Top 5 NFL Teams Who Will Get Way Better in 2018
All sports teams do everything they can to improve in their respective offseasons. Whether they’re looking to build on an already solid team or if they just want to get out of their league’s cellar, teams are always looking for ways in which they can be better than they were in the season before either, be it through drafts, trades, or free agent signings. Now that we’re about midway through the NFL offseason, let’s take a look at 5 teams who have done the most to improve upon their rosters so far.
cleveland browns (o-16 in 2017)
Ignoring the fact that it’s literally impossible to be worse than they were last season, the Browns have made some really nice moves so far this offseason in an effort to no longer be the laughing stock of the NFL. Cleveland has had a notoriously difficult time with quarterbacks over the last few decades, and their acquisition of Tyrod Taylor gives them a legitimate starting quarterback option from the get go. They also used the 2018 draft to pick up Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick in the hopes that he’ll be their long term solution at the quarterback position. Mayfield has a ton of talent, but he’s a bit of a risk considering that it could be difficult for him to transition from the college game to the pros. In an effort to help their quarterback situation out, the Browns also went and got wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Dolphins, providing whoever their QB might be with a fantastic option in the slot. Couple Landry with a revitalized Josh Gordon and you have what could very well be an elite wide receiver duo. Their draft additions of cornerback Denzel Ward and running back Nick Chubb could prove to be really nice as well. We shouldn’t necessarily expect the Browns to be amazing next season, but they should improve upon their 2017 by a whole lot.
indianapolis colts (4-12 in 2017)
When your franchise quarterback is out for the season, you’re bound to take a huge step back. That was unfortunate reality faced by the Colts last season, as Andrew Luck sat out for the entirety of 2017 with a nagging shoulder injury. Jacoby Brissett held down the fort decently enough, but Luck is among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks when he’s healthy, so the Colts’ offense grew rather stagnant in his absence. With Luck back on the field, wide receiver TY Hilton should regain his position as a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL. In addition, Indy took arguably the best offensive lineman in the 2018 draft class when they nabbed Quenton Nelson 6th overall, who the team hopes will help prevent Luck from suffering any further injuries. Long story shot: Andrew Luck is back on the field, and the Colts will be way better for it.
green bay packers (7-9 in 2017)
Just like the Colts, the Packers will get their franchise quarterback back next season. When Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone in Week 6 of the 2017, Green Bay all but lost their season. Rodgers came back in December to try and salvage their playoff hopes, but didn’t look like himself in the loss to the Panthers and was shut down for the rest of the season. Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and Green Bay was 4-1 on the season before he got hurt, only to go 3-8 the rest of the way. The addition of tight end Jimmy Graham might not make up for the departure of Rodgers’s favorite target in wide receiver Jordy Nelson, but he should provide an excellent red zone target for Rodgers to look to during Green Bay’s many red zone drives. When Rodgers is on the field, the Packers are consistent Super Bowl contenders, so we will likely see Green Bay back atop the NFC standings in 2018.
houston texans (4-12 in 2017)
Houston was another one of those teams who suffered mightily from the injury bug, and just when they thought things were looking up. Defensive end JJ Watt is one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, but he played only 5 games in 2017 before suffering a season-ending leg injury. Watt is a folk hero in the Houston area, especially given his relief efforts during Hurricane Harvey, and his absence was a huge one. Hope remained alive, though, as rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson was lighting up opposing defenses and was en route to potentially having the greatest rookie season by any quarterback in NFL history. Over 6 starts, Watson tossed 1,699 yards for 19 touchdowns while also rushing for 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground, making himself to look like Houston’s quarterback of the future. However, an ACL tear suffered during a non-contact practice drill before Week 9 ended Watson’s season, and Houston only won a single game from that point on. With Watt and Watson back on the field and elite wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins likely only going to get better, expect the Texans to take a huge step forward in 2018.
san francisco 49ers (6-10 in 2017)
The 2017 season was a wild one for the 49ers. Through Week 12, San Francisco had accrued a miserable 1-10 record, with their only victory coming at home against a terrible New York Giants team. And then came Jimmy Garoppolo. The Niners traded a second round 2018 draft pick to the New England Patriots for Jimmy G, and man does that look like a bargain now. Garoppolo won all 5 of his starts with San Francisco, throwing for 1,542 yards while completing 67% of his passes and looking like everything the 49ers needed from their quarterback of the future. In fact, San Fran believes so heavily in their new QB that they signed him to a record deal worth $137.5 million over 5 years and also drafted a monstrous offensive lineman in Mike McGlinchey with the 9th overall pick the the 2018 draft. The 49ers defense should also take a big step up with the addition of future Hall of Fame cornerback Richard Sherman and (hopefully) a full season from up and coming linebacker Reuben Foster. Now, don’t expect Jimmy G to go undefeated throughout all of 2018-19, but it’s safe to assume that the 49ers could be strong contenders in the NFC next season.