One of the most wonderful times of the year; march madness in college basketball. As a fan of many sports, I can confidently say there’s not much like the first weekend’s onslaught of games seemingly non stop.
So, to give myself extra rooting interest in every game that I watch, I decided to pick every single game of the first round against the spread. This idea has been done before so I am no pioneer, but it makes for fun engagement and as previously mentioned it gives me a little bit of rooting interest.
Here is the disclaimer though; I am not placing actual wagers on these matchups, and a strategy of betting every game in a sport usually doesn’t work well. My goal is to get either 50% of these picks correct or break even on my bankroll.
Deciding who to pick in each game of a 67-game tournament is exceedingly difficult, but I have created an interactive dashboard that displays offense and defense efficiency for each tournament team. I highly recommend checking it out near the end (it’s FREE).
You can use this tool to decide which teams could be on upset alert, which games are evenly matched, and/or which top tier teams have what it takes to win it all. By being able to filter based on team, the analysis possibilities are endless with this dashboard.
To use, simply scroll below, select two or more teams from the left-side filter, and interpret the data shown on the graph. Here is an example of what can be done, viewing the top five teams according to kenpom.com:
This unique comparison likely won’t be needed until the final four, however it’s still evident that Gonzaga & Arizona are not just among the best with their offense, they run their offenses extremely fast. Remember, higher score is better for offense, but lower score is better for defense, similar to an actual basketball game. That would indicate how dominant Gonzaga has been – their gap between offense and defense is noticeably wider than anyone else in the top five, so they’d be able to match the pace of Arizona while limiting more of their opportunities.
(Keep in mind it looks messy at first until you select two teams. To select multiple teams on Windows, hold ‘control’ as you select each team. On Mac, hold ‘command’ as you select each team. On mobile, swipe each team name box to the right (towards the graph) to add to the visual.
Mason Rudolph? Marcus Mariota? Jimmy Garoppolo? Jameis Winston? Or a rookie…
QB Ben Roethlisberger gave 18 hall of fame seasons to the Steelers, and replacing him will likely be the hardest replacement ever for the franchise. The realistic options for next year’s starting QB job in Pittsburgh are as follows and NOT in any order:
Here is how some of these QB’s compare in their last ten games started (Mason Rudolph’s sample size):
This list has some talented QB’s and some not so talented QB’s. The craziest thing is that I think the best player for the job is one of the lesser talented names on the entire list… Factoring in everything that the Steelers front office should (like contract, familiarity, and draft capital) the best QB for the Steelers in 2022 is…
This will make someone rage click off this page I’m sure of it. But hear me out; Rudolph has one of the best things an NFL team could ask for – a QB on a rookie deal. The resources saved by locking in Rudolph as next years starter could and should be used to acquire smaller pieces for a roster that desperately needs better pieces.
Not only that, but the Steelers (and most teams) will not be jumping at the opportunity to take more risk than they have to. Rudolph has shown the staff and fans everything that he can and cannot do on the football field with the current offense, which should make it possible to game plan around his strengths and weaknesses. Whereas bringing in anyone will require somewhat of an adjustment and the QB performance might be negatively affected as a result.
2- Mitchell Trubisky (+1600)
Again, I’m probably not making a bunch of sense right now. But hear me out again; Trubisky just sat one year behind arguably the most talented QB in the world right now. The graph at the beginning shows one thing; his statistics look better than the others, namely his combination of rush yards per game, total touchdowns, completion percentage and touchdown percentage.
Based on current contract values, Trubisky will be cheaper than M. Mariota, J. Winston, A. Dalton and T. Bridgewater. He satisfies Tomlin’s desire for a mobile QB while actually improving the overall effectiveness of the offense, compared to Big Ben or Mason Rudolph.
3- Jameis Winston (+900)
Probably the most expensive name on the free agent list, I believe Winston can build off of his productive half-year in New Orleans. The stats don’t lie, and they tell us that Winston is truly the ‘all or nothing’ type of QB with a great ability to score touchdowns…and also the ability to ‘waste a pass’ (interception or incompletion).
That’s not exactly what the Steelers would sign him to be though, as he grew more patient and anticipated better throughout his time in New Orleans. He would only be brought in if other big upgrades were made to positions like WR and OL.
4- Malik Willis (+1400)
Here’s the first rookie, finally! The reason I don’t have any rookie higher than four is because I don’t think the better QB’s in the class will be available at pick 20, and I don’t see PIT trading up for any of them.
However if they did trade up, to get Willis, it would probably not be to sit him for a year, right? I would have to assume given his potential that they’re able to design an offense that he’s able to adapt to considering the offensive scheme they tried to run with the total opposite QB of Willis (Big Ben).
5- Sam Howell (+1800)
Oh another rookie? This rookie is (probably) the most pro-ready QB in the class, given his accuracy, experience and athleticism. Although I don’t like to put too much weight on this; Kevin Colbert and the scouting department have watched Sam Howell the most throughout the season/off-season. A real possibility could be the top five lineman are gone and the top two or three QB’s are gone, in either case might prompt PIT to draft Howell for safety and needs.
6- Marcus Mariota (+1300)
Mariota is probably dying to get the chance to start again, but even if he were to come to PIT, something tells me it would still be a battle between him and Rudolph for the entirety of preseason.
Although he could help boost the running game with his mobility, he hasn’t gotten the chance to do that in a while and his speed/elusiveness may be on the decline given his age. However, he has shown the ability to take care of the football and that could prove to be all a team needs from their QB.
7- Jimmy Garoppolo (+750)
Garoppolo has been discussed the most heavily in connection with PIT’s starting QB next season (at least among free agents). While he might have the innate ability to pull out wins and command a powerful offense, it isn’t as clear how much of that was because of him, rather than despite him. The price tag and expectations would far exceed the offensive productivity with him and the current scheme.
8- Matt Corral (+1200)
I won’t lie I think Corral would be fun to watch in PIT. He’d likely use his legs as much as he needed, and that in itself would give the offense a different type of style for the foreseeable future. Not sure how serious his injury is, but even if he’s fully healthy he doesn’t have the most prototypical frame of an NFL QB and will likely undergo A LOT of pressure if PIT drafts him in the first round. If it happens I wouldn’t surprise if Corral sat behind Rudolph to at least start the season.
9- Russel Wilson (+1200)
Well, Wilson is easily the most proven and valuable QB on this list, and adding an escape artist QB who throws one of the best deep ball passes in the game would instantly make the offense more explosive given their QB immobility last year and lack of deep ball success.
What’s important to keep in mind though is Wilson would cost at least two first-round picks and maybe even a player. The roster isn’t constructed to spend as much as possible on a QB when other pieces are needed yet would be forfeited with the acquisition of Wilson.
10- Kenny Pickett (+900)
Now this is NOT me saying Pickett is the worst QB on this list, please keep that in mind! As it stands now, I’m willing to bet that there’s a 99% chance Pickett gets drafted inside the top-15 and that would mean PIT sacrificing draft capital and/or players to jump up and select him.
I like the chemistry Pickett would have with offensive coordinator Matt Canada, however no amount of chemistry can fix the offensive line that would be in a state of unknown heading into next season, especially if a QB is taken in round one and not a lineman.
There are many paths for the Pittsburgh Steelers to find their next QB, whether it be for one year or the next ten. There are pros and cons to each of their options and a lot of the decisions will likely come down to cost and risk. Mason Rudolph should be the starting QB next year, because he is the lowest-risk option on this list and is also the cheapest while he’s still on his rookie contract.
With that being said, if the objective is to look at the odds and make money on this situation; my bets are going to be placed on Mason Rudolph ($5), Marcus Mariota ($1), and Sam Howell ($1). I wouldn’t take them though until more of the draft process gets going, as that will tell the fans a lot about who is focused on who.