Hope springs eternal following the Super Bowl. At least a quarter, and maybe half of all NFL fans think their team has a shot to win it next year. That said, so frequently teams that are good one year, end up being bad the next.
Before we close the books on the 2016 season, here are a few teams that are over-rated heading into next year, and likely won’t live up to the hype. Don’t forget lessons learned from this season: veteran teams like the Bengals and Cardinals got old and injured and were quickly out of contention, and teams without elite quarterbacks have trouble in the long run.
Here are my top three choices.
They aren’t old but they aren’t ready either. Don’t get me wrong, Dallas has a terrific offensive line, and talented young skill position players. However, they went 13-3 in 2016 before losing their first playoff game. That says a lot. The ‘Boys were 7-2 during the regular season in games decided by one score, a number that is likely closer to 5-4 or 4-5 in any other season.
They’ll be picking at the end of each round of the draft, and have the worst salary cap situation in the league. Though young players will improve, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to dramatically enhance the roster, and the division is packed with teams only getting better.
Coach Jason Garrett has one playoff win in seven seasons. The Cowboys may win 10 games next year, but a lot more than that seems unlikely.
Adam Gase was a home run hire for an organization that lacked stability and direction for a long time. The Dolphins rallied from an early 1-4 record to win 10 games and earn a playoff berth. However, when they faced legitimate competition in big games, they got crushed. The Ravens beat them 38-6 during Week 13, New England punished them 35-14 to end the regular season, and the Steelers got by Miami 30-12 in the playoffs. The Dolphins had the worst strength of victory among playoff teams by a wide margin.
Miami’s wins came against teams that combined for a .341 winning percentage. Ryan Tannehill had his best year under center before getting injured, but his ceiling is more a good, not great, quarterback.
Repeating double-digit wins is going to be a difficult task.
In three straight seasons, Bill O’Brien has led the Texans to a 9-7 record. In the last two, they won the AFC South. Their leading passer in those three seasons has been Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and Brock Osweiler. Either the overpaid Osweiler, or unproven Tom Savage will start the 2017 season. That puts a pretty low ceiling on how far Houston can go, particularly since the defense can not improve from their best in the NFL rating this season.
Meanwhile, the rest of the division will likely be better than last year. Jacksonville changed coaches, the Colts have a new GM, and Tennessee is improving. The Titans have two first round draft picks, a ton of cap space, and Marcus Mariota to build around. O’Brien has done a really good job to finish with winning records, but I just don’t see how it’s going to get better.
Photo Credit: By original: Keith Allison derivative: Diddykong1130 (Dak Prescott) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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