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COLTS TURN TO BURROW
Coming off a two win season, first year IFL Coach Charles Evans selected LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall selection in the 2021 IFL draft. Evans hopes Burrow will be a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. Rounding out the top five, Dallas selected quarterback Justin Herbert second overall. The Steelers selected dynamic wide receiver Justin Jefferson third. In somewhat of a surprise move, the Dolphins, despite having quarterback Jared Goff already on their roster, selected Tua Tagovailoa fourth overall. Defensive end Chase Young went fifth overall to the Bills.
ROUND ONE BY THE NUMBERS
Thought I'd share this, in case anyone was interested. All these numbers refer to this year's R1 selections and positions as designated by DKS.
The most selected position this year was WRs. Seven (7) were taken; the same number as last year, but still two less than 2015 when 9 were taken, the most times any one position has been selected in R1 in IFL Draft history (at least since I've been keeping track...2012). Over those 10 years, 53 WRs have been taken, for an average of 5.3 per year in R1.
The second most selected position was RBs. Six (6) were taken; tied for most ever taken in R1 (also done in 2018). The 10-year average is 4 RBs taken in R1.
Four (4) QBs were taken. Five (5) is the most ever taken in R1. That has been done three times - 2012, 2019 and 2020). Four were also selected in 2013. The 10-year average is 3.5, so the number this year is pretty much on par.
Here's how the rest of the positions fleshed out:
OT - 3
OG-OT - 2
CB, DE, DL, DT, LB, ILB, OC and S* - one each
*I counted Jeremy Chinn as a S, though his LB-S position designation by DKS is a first (at least since I've been keeping track).
Summary: Seems WRs and RBs were in big demand, a little over their 10-year averages. CBs were behind the curve. An average of 2.7 were selected in R1 over the last 10 years, but just 1 was selected this year. DEs were a little behind too - 1.7 on average vs. just 1 selected this year. Every other position was pretty much on target.
Hope you enjoyed this little bit of nothing.
THE GURU SHARES HIS THOUGHTS ON THE IFL DRAFT
I want to welcome Mel Kiper Jr back for his 2nd year of doing the mock draft for the IFL league .
Thank You Mr Commissioner it is great to be back. I had a wonderful time last year mocking for the IFL. I look forward to this exercise and maybe shedding some light on what teams might be thinking and why.
Before I start the mock I want to do a quick overview of the stars of the draft and a position that is over drafted based on value every year, the QBs.
This year we have 4 QB that appear can be starters for the foreseeable future . Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow appear to be Franchise type QB that can carry a franchise for years to come.
Herbert seems to have the least amount of questions of any of the quarterbacks. He has the size, arm strength and poise in the pocket to be a generational QB. He has a chance to break most IFL Rookie throwing records. To me a no brainier top pick of this draft
Burrow has some of Herbert's qualities but is a one year wonder in college and is coming off an ACL tear. His arm is good but he is said to be working on his deep ball accuracy this off season. Still Burrow should turn into a fine QB who should earn an extension at the end of his rookie contract and deserves to be one of the top picks in this draft.
The other two QB Tua Tagovailo and Jalen Hurts come with more question marks
Tua is a much celebrated QB coming out of college but hip surgery has some questioning his durability which has led some to question his size and arm strength also his athleticism to escape a collapsing pocket. Tua has talent and I believe if he gets to team and a fan base that has some patience they have a chance be rewarded with a franchise QB.
Jalen Hurts started for 3 years in college and is a proven college commodity. earned a 41-3 mark at Alabama helping them win the national title in 2017 Helping being the key word as Tua came in for him in the national championship game and lead them to an OT win. Alabama never looked back it was Tua time. Hurts landed in Oklahoma and had an outstanding season as he was a Heisman Trophy runner up. Listen this is what I know in college Hurts was accurate and was a superb runner. Will this translate to the IFL game I don't know for sure but I do know he will be given an opportunity to be a franchise QB with whatever team picks him.
Now on to my mock and btw its nice to see McShay take some time to do some work after palling around with his IFL executive buddies at pro days all spring.
1. Indiannapolis: Coming off a miserable 2-14 season Justin Herbert is exactly what this community needed to help get the arrow pointed in the right direction and give them some hope. Pick QB Justin Herbert
2. Dallas: For the second year in a row the Cowboys will be picking a QB and hope to get it right this time. There is nothing else to say except Minshew is not the long term answer. They have needs all over as they also went 2-14 but until they get the QB right they will not be able to move forward Burrow should prove to be the franchise QB they are looking for. Pick QB Joe Burrow
3. Pittsburgh: Well I know this front office well and they understand they need a QB of the future as Brady has at most a couple years left(insert a smiley face if you have heard this before) But right now he is still a top 10 QB in the league and deserves a weapon after the cupboard being bare the last few years of play makers this young man will inject some excitement in the Steel City. Pick WR Justin Jefferson
4. Miami: So Miami trades picks 1.13 1.27 and 2.12 plus a 5th to move up to this spot and are not coming up for a QB? They have holes at RB WR and a Pass Rusher plus needing help in the CB room. Some are questioning this move up however Coach Cox has proven he knows what he is doing and the Dolphin faithful motto is in Tony we trust after an undefeated IFL Championship in 2018. This could be a surprise QB pick as maybe they are not sold on Goff/Winston but they fill a hole and turn the card in for one of the best players in the draft . Pick DE Chase Young
5. Buffalo: The Bill got their Franchise QB last year now they need to protect him. They can find WR in the 2nd round this is a plug and play Tackle who will be their for a decade. Pick OT Tristian Wirfs
6. San Francisco: They literally have no one in the QB room they hope this young man comes to life and becomes the franchise QB that he is projected to be coming out of college. Its Tua time in the Bay. Pick QB Tua Tagovailoa
7. Denver: TODD TODD TODD TODD TODD...... a guard ? Their QB is Mitch Tribisky! They have 2 solid guards. The Broncos have a solid team but look they need a QB of the future and their is only one left on the board. Obviously I have a higher grade on Hurts then new school or old school but he does have a chance to be a franchise QB. You need to make the pick if he is here at 7. Pick QB Jalen Hurts
8. LA Rams: The Rams made an aggressive move up the draft board last year and they picked Daniel Jones to be their Franchise QB. The jury is still out on this QB as he needs to cut down on his turnovers but he has shown signs of being the answer for years to come. Where does Coach Heaton (Youngest) go from here to get his team back in the playoffs? I believe he opts for a WR here to help Jones. Cee Dee Lamb fits like a glove in this WR Room. Pick WR Cee Dee Lamb
9. Arizona: This is a tough call for coach Heaton (Senior) other than the fact they have the greatest QB on the planet they have needs at RB , WR and the OL. So players available are Jonathan Taylor RB, A Guard shooting up the board in Mike Onwenu or WR with a choice from Chase Claypool , Brandon Aiyuk , Jerry Jeudy , or Tee Higgins. They do have an injury prone Saquon Barkley at RB so I think they will address this later in the draft The OL needs to be improved but what this team is missing is a slot receiver for Mahomes to go along with their outside threats of Mike Williams and Christian Kirk. Pick WR Tee Higgins
10. Tennessee: Do they need a WR to go with Hopkins yes but they have a 31 year old Latavius Murray and nothing else. They have Jonathan Taylor fall to them at 10 and they get a young workhouse that can help setup the play action pass to go with WR Hopkins and last years 1st round pick TE Noah Fant . Pick RB Jonathan Taylor
11. Detroit: Another team that will need a QB soon as Injured Garoppolo has an uncertain future but they can pick a veteran up later in the draft and punt on the position until next year. They have a stout RB in Josh Jacobs and WR and OL are good their defense needs some help especially DB room. Pick CB Jarius Sneed
12. Atlanta: Phillip Rivers announced that this will be his last year and unless they make a massive move up to the top of the draft there will be no QB's here. This is a pretty veteran team with good players throughout the roster. They have needs at RB , WR and CB although they just pulled off a trade to bring in William Jackson to fill 1 CB need they will need more DB's but will this be the spot? I see this coming down between Claypool or Aiyuk or a young corner to pair with Jackson. I think with Larry Fitzgerald Mulling retirement I believe a WR will be the pick(based on an anonymous source with knowledge of the front office thinking) Pick WR Brandon Aiyuk
13 Kansas City: The Chiefs picked Drew Lock with the 3rd pick last year and they must be sold on him to trade out of a chance to pick Tua. Coach Sarcewicz gets a massive haul to move down 9 spots and they get a player at a need position to fall to them as they are in need of Interior Linemen . Pick OG Mike Onwenu
14. Houston: This team could use a RB as Mixon is injury prone they need a true OT as everyone on their line is better suited on the interior , and more DB's are needed . I can see them using this pick on the line and going with a player that projects as a franchise LT . Pick LT Mekhi Becton
15. Washington: What do we get a team that needs OLB help and Safety help . How about a player that can do both at a high level. Pick LB-S Jeremy Chinn
16. Detroit: Listen if I am Detroit I would double up at CB with this pick and bring in either AJ Terrell or Trevon Diggs and lock up a couple of young corners at an important position. Pick CB Trevon Diggs
17. Chicago: Coach Nordberg probable needs to build in the trenches after moving up for Darnold 2 years ago and drafting an edge rusher in the 1st last year in Maxx Crosby. This to me comes down to what does this team feel it needs most OL or DL choices between a talented Derrick Brown as Starter McLendon has reached 35 years old or go wiith OG Damien Lewis to help protect Darnold. I know this is not what McSeay picked but for me I believe Brown has more upside. Pick DT Derrick Brown
18. LA Chargers: Fitzmagic is in town get your tickets now because its usually a short show. Yes they need a QB of the future but they will kick that can down the road what they need is a slot receiver to play in between Julio and Amari Cooper who can run a few Jet sweeps also . Pick WR Laviska Shenault Jr
19. Arizona: They get their Slot Receiver earlier in the 1st round now they get their LT of the future . Pick LT Jedrick Wills Jr
20. NY Giants: So the Giants can grab themselves a workhorse RB and he can catch passes out of the backfield. Sign me up . Pick RB James Robinson
21. Oak...Las Vegas: A position of need is interior line and one of the best in the class falls to the Raiders here at 21 . Pick OG-C Damien Lewis
22. Baltimore: This team is in desperate need of a stud RB luckily for them this draft is full of RB1 types. Antonio Gibson has the chance to put a lot of points in the paint and is my choice for the Ravens.
Pick RB Antonio Gibson
23. Jacksonville: The Jags need some talent in their front 7 . while they could use a RB or a second WR to go with DK Metcalf they also need a potential big time play maker on defense . I believe this player with his speed and coverage ability can turn into that play maker and after having just traded for S Devon McCourty they definitely have a defensive frame of mind . Pick LB Isiah Simmons
24. New Orleans: Coach Rice needs help at CB and another DL and LB . I lean towards a young CB. Pick CB AJ Terrell
25. Tampa Bay: Another big time need that matches an available player and you can bring him on the blitz also. Pick S Antoine Winfield Jr
26. Cincinnati: Well we got to the commish's team. Listen they just traded for a 35 year old LT so this is a clear need for the future unless they feel Christian and Pipkins will develop into reliable options next year, they also just traded their 3rd CB William Jackson They could use an upgrade at LB and DL is an area of need they have 2 of the next 3 picks But a WR has unexpectedly fell into the Bengals lap who will give them some run after catch ability . This pick will help keep Aaron Rodgers mentally in the fold for the upcoming year. Pick WR Jerry Judy
27. Kansas City: Lane Johnson has had some injury issues and they have their choices of a couple of Tackles here Robert Hunt , Jonah Williams and Andrew Thomas are still all on the board . And although Jonah Williams has had some injury issues himself he is in my opinion the best fit for them at LT and appears to have the best upside of the 3. Pick LT Jonah Williams
28. Cincinnati: The Bengals love their DL and Javon Kinlaw has slid to this spot and cannot be past up. Pick DL Javon Kinlaw
29. Carolina:Making it to the Super Bowl last year this team is in win now mode. They need a Center who can step in and help facilitate the running game of Derrick Henry while he is in his prime. Pick C David Andrews
30. Denver: The Broncos need RB despite trading for McCaffrey but I believe they will wait until later to address this issue they need a LT to help protect the blind side of their new Rookie QB Jalen Hurts . Pick LT Andrew Thomas
NEW SCHOOL VERSUS OLD SCHOOL
Todd McShay offers a different perspective on how the IFL Draft could turn out....
Can't argue with Musberger's first four picks...
1. Indiannapolis: Burrow might be the better long-term choice, but QB Justin Herbert is here and now. The trick will be filling in the holes of this block of Swiss cheese.
2. Dallas: With Minchew, the Cowboys don't need QB Joe Burrow to produce right away, but he will for 10 games or so and give a glimpse of what will be in Da-Da-Land.
3. Pittsburgh: Just what Coach Alberry (the senior one) wants as QB Tom Brady rides into the sunset...whenever he decides it's time for the the sun to set...all-powerful deity that he is. WR Justin Jefferson heads to the black-and-gold Heinz Stadium at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.
4. Miami: Yummy, yummy, yummy. DE Chase Young is going to love eating up QBs in South Beach.
OK, here's where Musberger and I differ somewhat. We both agree that the Bills need help on the offensive side of the ball, but rather than give QB Kyler Murray a toy to play with, I see the Bills going the protection route:
5. Buffalo: OT Tristan Wirfs will bookend nicely with Ronnie Stanley for years to come and protect Murray from all those big, mean defenders like Chase Young, who now resides in the AFC East.
6. San Francisco: With the QB room empty, the Niners have got to find somebody to throw the ball to Stefon Diggs and Co. The question is whether to go with who's available or pass on a QB (figuring Alex Smith will surely be around for their second pick) and use this pick to find another foundation stone...maybe along the D-line? Maybe a trade back is in order here. Since I can't trade in the mock, I'll go with Musberger: Tua Tagvailoa, QB.
7. Denver: With Wirfs taken two slots ahead, Denver fills the void with versatile Michael Onwenu, OG-OT.
8. LA Rams: Coach Heaton (one of the younger ones) doesn't want QB Daniel Jones throwing the ball too much, so again, I'll go with Musberger: Jonathan Taylor, RB will team with Miles Sanders for a terrific one-two ground attack.
9. Arizona: Conversely, Coach Heaton (the eldest one) does want his QB to throw the ball. Mahomes gets a new toy and is happy that WR CeeDee Lamb fell into his lap.
10. Tennessee: As Musberger notes, Tennessee has a history of great WRs. Claypool could be that guy, but I think Coach Brunskill will go with WR Brandon Aiyuk instead.
11. Detroit: The Lions actually have a decent O-Line. There's not much depth behind it, but the 11th overall pick is not to be used for depth. Their defense, on the other hand, needs some help. The D-Line is stout, but aging. The LB corps and secondary are thin. Coach Merlenback will probably give Chinn some serious consideration, but I see CB L'Jarius Sneed as a good fit here.
12. Atlanta: Like Musberger, I see new coach Paul Alberry (the younger of the Alberrys) giving the old grizzled Phillip Rivers someone to throw to for his last hurrah. Unlike Musberger's choice of Tee Higgins, I think WR Chase Claypool will be available here.
13 Kansas City: This pick is a question of need vs value. DT Derrick Brown is a tremendous value at this pick, but the Chiefs have six DL and only one LB. I see Coach Sarcewicz taking versatile LB-S Jeremy Chinn and keeping his options open for his second pick later in the round.
14. Houston: The Texans have quietly assembled a solid team - good QB, good RBs, good WRs, a versatile O-Line, good D-Line, good ILB and good DBs (though thin). Could maybe use a little help at OLB, but none stand to help his unit like OT Mekhi Becton.
15. Washington: With Chinn stolen from him two picks before, Coach Heaton (the other young one) gives his Prescott/Bridgewater QB tandem a target - WR Jerry Jeudy.
16. Detroit: The Lions use their second pick of the round to stick with defense and take LB Isaiah Simmons over the WR Musberger said they'd take (Jeudy). Can't have enough D in the black-and-blue division.
17. Chicago: Like the Rams with Daniel Jones, GM/Coach Nordberg, who swapped cities with the Detroit franchise this year, doesn't want QB Sam Darnold putting the ball in the air too much. Though Musberger has da Bears taking RB Antonio Gibson, I see da Bears backfield as already pretty strong with Pollard and Fournette. I see da Bears selecting that road-grader, OG-OT Damien Lewis, to give them highways to run on.
18. LA Chargers: While Coach Banko needs a QB-of-the-future, I don't think he's sold on Hurts. Fitzmagic could buy him some time, but he needs someone to throw to. WR Tee Higgins is a nice solution that let's Coach Banko look for short-term help at QB in the next round.
19. Arizona: I think Musberger is right on this. OT Jedrick Wills Jr should still be available and Coach Heaton will use the pick to protect the franchise jewel, Mahomes.
20. NY Giants: Two in a row! I agree with Musberger. As tempting as it is to take QB Jalen Hurts and put him in competition with residing QB Carson Wentz, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire would be a great fit on a solid Giants squad.
21. Oak...Las Vegas: Coach Keith Jackson can't believe his fortune! The dice rolled and came up DT Derrick Brown. What a D-Line these guys are going to have!
22. Baltimore: The Ravens nearly had their guy. Historically taking trench guys, they were licking their lips at the thought of a D-Line with Derrick Brown, Aaron Donald, Josh Allen (the DE one, not the QB one) and Folorunso Fatukasi! Alas, they're happy to welcome (real Raven) RB JK Dobbins into their needy backfield, leaving James Robinson and others wondering what the Ravens brass is thinking.
23. Jacksonville: RB James Robinson will wear the teal-and-black, just like real life, and share time with David Johnson in an explosive Jaguar backfield.
24. New Orleans: The skid stops here. Saints feel blessed to take DL Javon Kinlaw this deep in the draft.
25. Tampa Bay: The Bucs need a safety and a good one is available. Coach Chase selects S Antoine Winfield Jr, just like Musberger said.
26. Cincinnati: Despite the mis-information that GM/Coach John Storer provided to Musberger's interns, the Bengals can't follow the lead of the real Packers and not give QB Aaron Rodgers some help...can they?! I see the striped Cats taking WR Gabriel Davis and putting a smile on Rodgers' face.
27. Kansas City: Taking advantage of their first pick's versatility, KC goes with another LB, but it's not the one that Musberger thinks. Coach Sarcewicz takes LB Kenneth Murray, not Patrick Queen.
28. Cincinnati: Bengals double-down and broaden Rodgers' smile. WR Darrell Mooney is their second selection in three picks.
29. Carolina: Musberger and I agree again. OT Andrew Thomas to the Panthers.
30. Denver: After trading to acquire McCaffrey, the Broncos want to ensure he'll have a stout line to run behind once he's healthy. After taking Wirfs at 1.7, they stick with the O-line and take C Lloyd Cushenberry.
All-in-all, Musberger and I agree on a lot of selections (14 of 30!). Musberger thinks highly of RBs Antonio Gibson and Cam Akers, QB Jalen Hurts and ILB Patrick Queen, while I favor RB James Robinson, WR Gabriel Davis, ILB Kenneth Murray and C Lloyd Cushenberry. Let's see whether old school or new skool gets it right.
YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE.....................
at the IFL Indianapolis Colts draft room.
Hello everyone, I'm Brent Musburger and I have been allowed the privilege of mocking the 2021 IFL draft. I am here in Indianapolis where I spoke with first year IFL Coach Charles Evans with regard to the pressure of making the first overall selection. Charles agreed it is a critical selection that could determine the fate of the IFL Colts for years to come. He added the franchise is prepared and excited to make this selection. Now, on to the mock.
1. COLTS - Indianapolis needs a quarterback and there are at least two that merit consideration, Joe Burrow was the first overall selection in the NFL draft but suffered a season ending injury. The other candidate is Justin Herbert, who enjoyed a fine rookie season. As Phyllis points out the reports on Burrow's recovery are positive still I look for the Colts to go the safer route and select Herbert number one overall.
2. COWBOYS - Dallas is another franchise in need of potential franchise quarterback. The Colonel, Steve Hart already shipped Cam Newton out of Big "D" in preparation of the selection. Joe Burrow to the Cowboys.
3. STEELERS - With quarterbacks going with the first two selections, the Steelers have the opportunity to select what they feel is the best player at the other positions. The Greek believes the odds favor Pittsburgh taking LSU receiver Justin Jefferson over the best defensive prospect in the draft Chase Young. Jefferson to the Steelers.
4. DOLPHINS - In a proactive move, Miami traded up to the fourth overall spot. Ohio State defensive end, Chase Young would beef up a suspect Dolphins defense.
5. BILLS - After selecting exciting playmaking quarterback Kyler Murray number one overall last year, the Bills will give him another weapon with the selection of wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
6. 49ERS - San Francisco will go to the well again after giving up on former first round quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this past offseason. The 49ers will gamble that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will fully recover from a serious hip injury.
7. BRONCOS - Denver is giving said Mr. Trubisky another chance. To help increase his chance of success the Broncos will add building block left tackle Tristan Wirfs.
8. RAMS - Coming off an IFL Super Bowl Championship just two years ago, Los Angeles is still feeling the affects of losing their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck to retirement. Quarterback Daniel Jones, last year's first round selection, shows promise. Selecting the best running back available in Jonathan Taylor could help escalate Jones development.
9. CARDINALS - After trading up, Arizona will take advantage of adding to a thin receiving corps with the selection of Brandon Aiyuk.
10. TITANS - Historically Tennessee is known for having an exciting receiving corps with Beckham and Hopkins. The Titans hope receiver Chase Claypool adds to that legacy.
11. LIONS - Mike Onwenu was one of the better late round success stories in the 2020 NFL draft. He will help upgrade the Lions O-Line.
12. FALCONS - With the great Larry Fitzgerald finally showing signs of slowing down, wide receiver Tee Higgins looks like a nice addition to Atlanta.
13. CHIEFS - Kansas City traded down from four to gain an additional first round pick and additional roster depth. It looks like a solid move so far as they select defensive tackle Derrick Brown.
14. TEXANS - I look for Houston to add mammoth offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
15. FOOTBALL TEAM - Washington could use help at outside linebacker and safety. Our resident defensive expert Irv Cross, believes the versatile Jeremy Chinn offers a solution at either position.
16. LIONS - With their second of two first round picks, Detroit adds to their wide receiver room with Jerry Jeudy.
17. BEARS - Running Back Antonio Gibson adds another dimension to the Chicago back field.
18. CHARGERS - With the quarterback room needing an injection of youth, Los Angeles selects Jalen Hurts.
19. CARDINALS - Another team making their second selection of the first round, Arizona hopes to improve Mahomes' protection by adding tackle Jedrick Willis Jr.
20. GIANTS - The New York Football Giants could use help in the back field. They have at least a trio of choices in Cam Akers, D'Andre Swift, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I lean toward Edwards-Helaire.
21. RAIDERS - At this point in the draft I could see Oakland, oops I knew I would do that. I mean Las Vegas of course, beefing up the interior of their offensive line by selecting road grader Damien Lewis.
22. RAVENS - Passing on home town product J.K. Dobbins would be shocking. The running back room is rather thin in Baltimore.
23. JAGUARS - One of the rising franchises in the IFL, look for Jacksonville to add dynamic linebacker Isaiah Simmons to the defense.
24. SAINTS - New Orleans adds depth to the defensive line with the addition of Javon Kinlaw.
25. BUCCANEERS - One of the more successful IFL franchises that seems to fall just short in the postseason. I think they will address a major need with the addition of second generation defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr.
26. BENGALS - Acquired from the Jets, Cincinnati traded cornerback William Jackson for offensive line help. I look for the Bengals to replenish their defensive back field by adding L'Jarius Sneed.
27. CHIEFS - Kansas City continues to add to the defense with the selection of linebacker Patrick Queen.
28. BENGALS - With their second selection of round one, Cincinnati adds to their receiving corps with Darnell Mooney.
29. PANTHERS - Carolina will take a chance on offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, who started slow but begin to justify his top five selection in the NFL.
30. BRONCOS - Denver closes out the first round of the IFL draft with the selection of running back Cam Akers.
IFL SUPER BOWL
In a battle of #1 seeds, Carolina (13-3) and New England (16-0) hooked up in the IFL Super Bowl for all the marbles. Carolina is led by their franchise QB Russell Wilson (3600 yards, 18 TDs only 3 INT), with support from running back Derrick Henry (1646 rushing yards w/17 TDs) and stud receiver Mike Evans (1210 yards 9 TDs). Meanwhile, undefeated New England sports a multi-dimensional offense led by QB Lamar Jackson (3350 passing yards, 27 TDs and 992 rushing yards) with help from RB Christian McCaffrey (1126 rushing yards and 24 TDs) and the receiving duo of Cooper Kupp and Courtland Sutton (17 total TDs).
Patriots win the toss and elect to defer. Carolina opens up with a quick Wilson to Amendola strike for 9 yards and a short run by Kenyan Drake for the first down. The drive stalled from there and the Panthers punt it away.
Jackson hits Sutton on the first play for 11 yards and a first down. A couple McCaffrey runs leaves the Patriots with a 3rd and 3. Jackson rolls out looking for a receiver but the coverage is excellent...........he checks down to McCaffrey but is INTERCEPTED BY MAURICE CANADY who runs it all the way back to the Patriot ONE YARD LINE! A huge early break for the Panthers! A false start penalty backs Carolina up, but Kenyan Drake runs it in from 6 yards out and Carolina is on the board first, 7-0.
Lamar Jackson wastes little time answering, rushing twice for 13 yards and completing 4 of 5 passes on the next drive, the last to Courtland Sutton for a 21 yard TD and the game was tied at 7-7 at the 5:26 mark of the first quarter.
Patriots appeared to enter the game looking to stop Derrick Henry. This didn't work out well on the next drive as Russell Wilson connected three times with Drake out of the backfield for gains of 3, 26 and 24 yards to carry the Panthers deep into Patriot territory. After a 5 yard Drake run, Wilson found him for a FOURTH time on the drive for a 5 yard TD pass, and Carolina leads 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Patriots looked to answer but the Panther defense was up to the task, forcing a 3 and out. Russ starts to cook once again, finding Drake for 6 yards and Amendola for 18 yards.......down to the NE 38 yard line. Facing a 4th and 2 from the 30, Carolina calls on Josh Lambo who connects on the long field goal, and Carolina had a 10 point lead early in quarter number two. 17-7 Panthers
New England puts together a nifty nine play 75 yard drive in response, highlighted by completions to Hayden Hurst for 13 and Sutton for 16 out to the Panther 31 yard line. A 9-yard rush by Jackson was followed by a 19-yard TD strike to John Ross. 17-14 Panthers.
On first and ten Carolina looked to unleash their big dog Derrick Henry who cut inside and was hit by Logan Ryan, jarring the ball loose into the arms of rookie LB Devin White................who ran it all the way back for the TD! Patriots take their first lead of the game at the 6:52 mark of the 2nd quarter, 21-17.
Panthers looked to answer as Wilson hits Drake and Hooper for short completions to start the drive. TWO holding penalties killed the momentum however and Carolina had to punt it away. New England would have it at their own 23 yard line.
Runs by McCaffrey (2 yards) and Jackson (18 yards) preceded the two minute warning. On the next play, Jackson faded back but couldn't find a receiver.........but instead of forcing a throw as he did in the first quarter, Lamar headed into the open field for a 45 yard gain to the Panther 12 yard line! Two plays later, McCaffrey ran it in for the TD. A missed PAT by Tucker left the game at 27-17 Patriots heading to halftime.
The Pats offense started out the 3rd quarter rolling, with completions from Jackson to Sutton and Hurst for 10 and 28 yards respectively, down to the Panther 30 yard line. Three straight rushes left NE with a 4th and 1 at the 21 yard line. New England took the points as Tucker hit the FG, and the Patriots were up 30-17.
Two false start penalties on the next Panther drive dug them into a 1st and 20 hole which they could not escape. A Panther punt was returned by Nyheim Hines 26 yards out near midfield. Four plays later, Jackson hit John Ross once again for a TD, this one from 31 yards out, and NE was up three scores, 37-17.
A sense of urgency was setting in for Russell Wilson and the Panthers. After a Drake run went nowhere, Wilson went it alone and ran for a 12 yard gain and a first down. He then hit Mike Evans, thus far held in check by Richard Sherman, for 14 and another first down, across midfield. Drake was stuffed on the next run and the Patriots forced a 4th and 7 decision. Panthers decided to punt it away, but changed course when NE jumped offside. Wilson looked to hit Amendola on 4th and 2 but the ball was knocked away by Logan Ryan. Patriots maintain their lead 37-17 heading to the 4th quarter.
Lamar and Co. were on the move once again early in the 4th quarter, as Jackson hit Hurst and Kupp for 14 yards apiece. In between those completions, Lamar scrambled for another 19 yards. On first and goal, CMC ran it in from 7 yards out for his 2nd TD of the day. 44-17 New England.
Wilson drove his squad right down the field on their next drive setting up Henry for a 5 yard TD. Patriots lead was cut to 44-24 with 7:17 to play.
New England went to the ground game exclusively on the next drive. Carolina appeared a bit worn down as New England, highlighted by a 46 yard run by Lamar, ran it continuously all the way into the endzone as McCaffrey eventually scored his 3rd rushing TD of the game Carolina would add a late field goal but Patriots would prevail in the end. FINAL SCORE: NEW ENGLAND 51 CAROLINA 27
Lamar Jackson was the game MVP, as he shook off the early interception to throw for 237 yards and 3 TDs. Equally as important, Lamar was unstoppable with his legs, rushing for 171 yards on only 12 carries. Courtland Sutton led NE receivers with 6 grabs for 83 yards and a TD. Christian McCaffrey ran for a mere 57 yards on 15 carries, but 3 of those runs were to paydirt.
For Carolina, it was a disappointing end to a terrific season. Kenyan Drake caught 8 passes for 71 yards and a TD to lead the Panther offense. Derrick Henry was held to 65 yards on his 12 carries.
Each team turned the ball over one time resulting in a TD for the opposition. Carolina was stung by 8 penalties for 50 yards while NE was flagged 5 times for 47 yards.
Patriots navigate their way through the postseason by outscoring their three playoff opponents 134-48 to wrap up their perfect 2020-2021 season.
IFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Bengals 15 Patriots 45
Cincinnati travels to New England on a high after their remarkable comeback win last week against the Jets. Aaron Rodgers is always dangerous, and he has all of his weapons sharpened for this matchup. Meanwhile, New England dispatched Jacksonville with relative ease last week, and were hoping to run their unbeaten streak to 18.
Patriots would get the ball first. Completions from Lamar to Hurst and Ekeler had NE quickly into Bengal territory. A pair of Jackson runs for 10 yards each set up a Lamar to Kupp 12 yard TD pass. 7-0 Patriots.
Brandon Wilson was back to receive the kick, hoping for some more magic after last weeks dramatic KR TD which sparked the Bengals rally. Wilson fielded at the goal line and was off to the races.......................across the 30 near the 40 yard line.......... before getting blasted and coughing it up! A mad scramble for the ball....and NE would recover!
Starting at the Bengal 40, Lamar to CMC for 9 yards followed by a couple more CMC runs down to the Bengal 22. With the Bengals focused on CMC, Jackson hooked up with a streaking Courtland Sutton for the 22 yard TD. Before Aaron Rodgers could even get on the field, it was 14-0 New England.
Bengals go three and out, and the Patriots are on the move again. Jackson to Ekeler for 19 yards followed by another 19 yard completion to Kupp down to the 8 yard line. Consecutive runs by Lamar are met with force as the Patriots lose 6 yards on the two plays. Ultimately they would settle for a FG and it was 17-0 after one quarter.
The 2nd quarter begins with NE driving once again. Jackson to Kupp for 16 followed by a rushes from CMC and Ekeler have NE at the Bengal 15. On 3rd and 1, CMC rips off an 11 yard run to the Bengal 4 yard line. On the next play, Jackson runs it in and it's 24-0 Patriots.
Things would get no better for Cincinnati on the day. New England would finish the half with another long scoring drive capped by an Ekeler 1 yard TD run, and it was 31-0 at halftime.
Final Score: Patriots 45, Bengals 15
For NE, Lamar Jackson threw for 231 yards and 3 TDs. He also ran for 66 yards and a 4th TD. McCaffrey ran for 84 yards and a TD himself, to go along with 2 grabs for 24 yards.
Aaron Rodgers was not himself on this day. It wasn't until the 4th quarter before he had eclipsed the 100 yard passing mark, as Richard Sherman and the Patriot secondary kept DJ Chark, Alshon Jeffrey and the Bengal passing attack under wraps. A couple 4th quarter TD passes salvaged what had been a rough day for the future hall of famer.
Congrats to John on a great season. This one got out of hand quick after the costly fumble in the first quarter, and the Bengals just couldn't supply enough offense to keep up with the home team on this day.
Eagles 24 Panthers 30
Philadelphia and Carolina meet with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
The Panthers jumped out to the early first quarter lead with a Lambo field goal followed by Wilson hitting Drake on a 9 yard swing pass to take the early 10-0 lead.
The Eagles would respond though, at the start of the second, as Tannehill drove them down the field then ran in it himself from the 4 to bring the Eagles within a field goal 10-7. Carolina would roar back and after a 52 yard field goal by Lambo, Wilson would hit Hooper on a 4 yard pass to place the Panthers in great position, up 20-7. The Eagles were able to drive down the field and hit a field goal as time expired in the half to bring the half time score to 20-10.
The Eagles received the kick to start the third and promptly drove down the field and capped the drive with Tannehill connecting with Edelman on a 16 yard pass to draw the Eagles within a field goal 20-17. The Panthers offense then stalled on their next few drives and the quarter ended with the Eagles with striking distance.
The Panthers were able to distance themselves a little as Wilson hit Cobb on a 15 yard TD pass to push the lead back out to 27-17. They then added another field goal to lead 30-17 with 10 minutes left in the game. The Eagles would continue to play hard and Winston came in to QB and threw a 6 yard pass to Brown to draw within a TD 30-24. The Panthers got the ball back with 3 minutes left in the game and were able to convert a couple of first downs to seal the victory.
The difference in the game came down to turnovers. The Eagles had 3 and the Panthers none. Had that been more balanced, the Panthers would have been in trouble. Greg coached a great game and had a very good season.
Russel Wilson was the star for Carolina, throwing for 3 TD passes. For the Eagles, Brown had 116 yard receiving and a TD. Peterson added 103 yards on the game. The Panthers advance to their first Super Bowl.
IFL DIVISONAL ROUND