Top 5 NFL Teams Who Will Take a Step Back in 2018
While every NFL franchise hopes to use their offseason to improve their team, some organizations can’t help but take a step back as their teams get worse from the year before. Last week, we spoke about five NFL teams who will be way better in 2018 than they were in 2017, but now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Here are five NFL teams who will be worse in 2018 than they were last season.
buffalo bills (9-7 in 2017)
Buffalo was bar none the worst team to make the playoffs last season, profiting off of a bad AFC East and a lackluster 2017 AFC as a whole. By the end of the regular season, Buffalo ranked 22nd in points scored and 26th in points allowed. By all accounts, this should have put them among the league’s worst teams. However, they managed to take advantage of their meager competition, with 7 of their 9 wins coming against teams which finished 2017 with records no better than 6-10. In addition, their average margin of victory in their 9 wins was about 8.44 points. Their average margin of losing, however, was a whopping 18.71 points. What this tells us is that Buffalo just barely won games but tended to lose games handily. This type of trend has zero longevity for any NFL team. Also, with quarterback Tyrod Taylor now with the Browns, the Bills are starting fresh with career backup AJ McCarron and 2018 7th overall draft pick Josh Allen. Allen has a ton of upside but his football IQ needs some serious work. He could lead Buffalo to success in the future, but it most likely won’t be in 2018.
tennessee titans (9-7 in 2017)
Although they were better than the Bills on paper (19th in scoring and 17th in points allowed by the end of 2017), the Titans still weren’t anything special last season. Third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota showed that he had made progress throughout the season, but he still hasn’t lived up to the hype which surrounds a second overall draft pick. Running back DeMarco Murray didn’t have as good a season in 2017 as he did in 2016, and Tennessee’s receiving core didn’t show much promise. Nonetheless, the Titans won games and found themselves in the playoffs. However, this was strongly due to the fact that two of their division rivals, the Colts and the Texans, were both without their star quarterbacks. Colts franchise QB Andrew Luck sat out all of 2017 with a shoulder injury and Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson was looking to break basically every first-year QB record in the book before tearing his ACL during a non-contact drill in practice going into Week 9. Assuming Luck and Watson come back in full force in 2018, Tennessee’s divisional competition will be way harder than it was last year, making their schedule far more difficult.
washington redskins (7-9 in 2017)
Washington wasn’t great in 2017, but they weren’t terrible either. While they were tied for 27th in points allowed by the end of 2017, they ranked 16th in points scored, which isn’t bad. However, their entire offense relied on quarterback Kirk Cousins, who left Washington in free agency to join the Vikings. The Redskins were all but positive that they were going to lose Cousins, so they ended up trading for Alex Smith before Cousins left, who will likely be a pretty substantial downgrade. Smith looked like an MVP candidate through the first half of 2017, but his play went downhill as the season wore on. What’s more, he’s proven himself to be a system quarterback, as he thrived under Andy Reid’s run-first, slowly-make-your-way-down-the-field offense in Kansas City after having a lackluster career as a San Francisco 49er. Smith is now 34-years-old and will likely be the focal point of Washington’s offense going forward, a role with which he rarely seemed comfortable. Regardless of Smith, though, Washington shares a division with the defending Super Bowl champions Eagles, as well as a Giants team who will have Odell Beckham Jr back to full health and a huge threat in rookie running back Saquon Barkley, and a Cowboys team who will have star running back Ezekiel Elliott for a full season. In short, the Redskins got worse and their competition got better, so 2018 will probably be a rough season in Washington.
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seattle seahawks (9-7 in 2017)
Before you light your torches and pick up your pitchforks, I’m not saying the Seahawks will be bad next season, nor am I saying that their semi-dynasty is coming to an end. I am, however, saying that Seattle has only gotten worse since the end of 2017. The Legion of Boom seems to be coming to an end, with Richard Sherman signing with the 49ers and Kam Chancellor dealing with potentially career-ending health issues. Perhaps Seattle’s biggest issue last season was the fact that they had one of the worst offensive lines in football, with quarterback Russell Wilson running for his life on seemingly every passing play. Unfortunately for Wilson, Seattle has done very little to improve upon that aspect of their team, and without a solid run game to back him up, Wilson’s life will continue to be super difficult. Add in the fact that the Rams are poised to make a Super Bowl run and San Francisco seems to have found their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo and you’ve got a lot of reasons to believe that Seattle won’t be able to stave off their competition for much longer. Don’t get me wrong, Russell Wilson is still an MVP-caliber player and Pete Carroll remains one of the NFL’s best coaches (except for, you know, that play call), but I do think the Seahawks’ 2018 season will be the worst they’ve seen in a while.
baltimore ravens (9-7 in 2017)
The Ravens are another team who I don’t think will be terrible in 2018, but they likely won’t be competing for the playoffs like they were last season. Not much has changed in terms of their roster and they seem to have a pretty nice running back tandem in Alex Collins and Javorius Allen, but Joe Flacco is just straight up not good anymore, and when your quarterback isn’t good, your team probably isn’t going to be good. Flacco had a very pedestrian 2017, through for 3,141 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, garnering the third-worst single-season QBR of his extremely average 10-year career. His contract with the Ravens is up after this season, and Baltimore clearly doesn’t see him carrying them into the future considering they traded up to draft quarterback LaMar Jackson 32nd overall in the 2018 draft. If Flacco has a poor start to the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jackson take over as the Ravens’ starting quarterback. If that’s the case, then Baltimore will likely lose some more games as Jackson gets acclimated into the NFL. Again, I don’t think the Ravens will be terrible next season, I just don’t see them as getting as close to the postseason as they did in 2017.
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