Now that –unfortunately, enter extreme sad face — the 2017 NFL season has come and gone, it’s time to give a brief recap of how each team did this season.
So, without further adieu, here we go!
The Cardinals’ season was hindered by untimely injuries to key players. The Cards loss both running back David Johnson and quarterback Carson Palmer to season-ending injuries. In a division that’s really on the rise, the Cardinals face an uphill battle that’ll result in a rebuilding year for seasons to come. Oh yeah, they loss former head coach Bruce Arians to retirement as well. There’s a new wind brewing in the desert, and it’s going to be hot for awhile.
We’ll never know if the 28-3 jokes are ever going to end for a franchise so painfully close to winning their first Super Bowl. The Falcons took a back seat to the New Orleans Saints, who emerged as division champions. The Falcons’ season came to an abrupt end in Philly when Julio Jones failed to make a catch he makes in his sleep. With Matt Ryan and a pretty good defense on the end around, the Falcons will be a playoff team for the next few seasons at least.
A lot of teams experienced heart-breaking losses this year, and their loss to the Bengals to knock them out of the playoffs is right up there. The Ravens were such an up and down team that it was hard to pinpoint how good they were. But their season came down to a win-and-in scenario, and Ravens fans will never forget Andy Dalton smashing their dreams on fourth down.
Speaking of the Ravens … It was their loss that propelled the Buffalo Bills into the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Led by a stingy defense, and sometimes consistent quarterback play from Tyrod Taylor, the Bills gave their fans the best gift of all: a fan putting another fan through a table. Bills Mafia, y’all.
The Panthers bounced back after missing the playoffs in 2016, led by QB Cam Newton’s arm and legs. Newcomer Christian McCaffrey added a new dimension for them in the backfield along with Jonathan Stewart. The Panthers definitely took a step in the right direction in 2017, but they entered as a Wild Card and had to win on the road in the Super Dome. Nope.
Hey, here’s an idea: let’s invite the guy you just signed to be your long-term starter to a draft party in which you draft a quarterback to take your spot at a moments notice. It’s not like Mike Glennon would be replaced by Mitchell Trubisky, would he? Would he? He did. The Bears need to focus on offense in the upcoming draft to continue to develop Trubisky’s talent. Because have you seen some of his games? Not pretty.
The Bengals were once upon a time amidst a divisional race with the Steelers and Ravens, but it never amounted to anything. After rumors of head coach Marvin Lewis finally stepping down from the team, he was awarded a contract extension, because reasons. Andy Dalton is regressing, and it might be time to look elsewhere at the quarterback position. Perhaps Kirk Cousins? Probably not.
At least you tried.
Dak Prescott was supposed to take the next step after having a surprising rookie year with the Cowboys. Throw in one of the greatest O-Lines in recent memory and running back Ezekiel Elliott, and the Cowboys looked like NFC East favorites. But, it didn’t happen. Prescott played okay, but no where near as good as last year. Elliott was surrounded by legal trouble, and the defense took a major step back. They were not good. Hopefully Skip Bayless isn’t reading this right now…
After a 2-0 start led by quarterback Trevor Siemian and a rising defense anchored by linebacker Von Miller, the Broncos looked as if they were going to put it together. However, after a million losses, their season came to an abrupt end by Week 6 or so, and they never recovered. GM John Elway believes they are a franchise quarterback away from returning as contenders in the AFC. Maybe Cousins is the answer?
Matthew Stafford, at the time, was the league’s highest paid quarterback, at $135 million for five years. That’s an absurd amount of money for a quarterback who hasn’t always delivered. That was evident again when the Lions fell out of the NFC North to the Minnesota Vikings. With no run game, questionable talent at the wide receiver position and a defense that struggled to get off the field, the Lions need to spend money on pieces elsewhere.
Green Bay Packers
After a thrilling comeback against the Dallas Cowboys to improve to 4-1, the world came crashing down for cheeseheads everywhere when Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone against Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr that sidelined him for eight weeks. With head coach Mike McCarthy turning to backup quarterback Brett Hundley, the Packers faded fast from contention, and Hundley failed to throw a touchdown pass at home.
The future looks bright in Houston after drafting DeShaun Watson to finally fix their quarter woes. Watson went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and Russell Wilson and had the Texans up there with the Jaguars, but an unfortunate ACL tear ended his season. With a healthy Watson and JJ Watt, the Texans looked primed for success in the AFC South.
When will Andrew Luck play again? Seriously, that’s the only thing worth talking about when it comes to the Colts. Luck was drafted to be Peyton Manning’s replacement, and for the most part, he has delivered. But it’s been two seasons since we last saw Luck, and you have to be concerned with his health moving forward.
More like Sacksonville, amirite?!? Seriously, the Jags shocked everyone with their stellar play throughout the season. Blake Bortles cut down on his turnovers, and a defense starring Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell, the Jags, if they can keep it together, can start to turn the tide in the AFC. I know many people want Bortles to be replaced, but give the man another shot. He definitely earned it.
Kansas City Chiefs
It seems to be the same old story when it comes to the Chiefs. They have a good to great regular season, and become one-and-done in the playoffs. It’s amazing that with the level of talent on both sides of the ball, the Chiefs haven’t been a more dominant force in January. Now Alex Smith is gone, and it’s the Patrick Mahomes show.
Los Angeles Chargers
An 0-4 start to the season is tough for any team to overcome, and the Chargers nearly did it, until a late loss in Kansas City that ended their season for good. Philip Rivers isn’t getting any younger, but he shows that he can still sling it with the best of them. A strong running game in Melvin Gordon, the self-proclaimed best receiver Keenan Allen, and defensive stars such as Casey Hayward, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram should keep them afloat in the AFC West. However, they can’t afford such a slow start in 2018.
Los Angeles Rams
Steve McVay was the butt of many harmless jokes at the NFL Honors Award show, but the man shows he can coach, even if he is only 31. Paired with rising sophomore Jared Goff and last season’s fantasy BEAST in Todd Gurley, the Rams have become a force to be reckoned with in the NFC West. They may have hiccuped against the Falcons during Wild Card weekend, but the experience of playoff loss is only going to fuel this team.
When Ryan Tannehill went down, head coach Adam Gase was desperate to replace his quarterback, but with who? Enter Smokin’ Jay Cutler. Cutler left the FOX booth before his first game and suited up for the Dolphins. With surprising wins against the Falcons and Patriots, the Dolphins showed on the rarest of occasions they can compete with the big dogs. However, it’s going to take a healthy Tannehill to get them where they want to go.
The Minnesota Miracle. Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs, and ballgame. It was one of the most unbelievable endings in playoff history. However, they SKOL’d their way into a buzzsaw at Philly the next week. The question they’ll have to answer is who’s going to be the quarterback moving forward? Will it be Keenum? What about Sam Bradford? Or Teddy Bridgewater?
New England Patriots
Tom Brady continues to defy expectation playing as a 40-year-old quarterback. As long as the Patriots have Brady under center, they’re almost guaranteed a spot in the AFC Championship or the Super Bowl. That’s how dominant they’ve been. Besides, you can’t really blame Brady for that Super Bowl LII loss, either. The AFC should continue to fear the Patriots for the next few seasons.
New Orleans Saints
When you give Drew Brees a defense, this is the kind of season you’ll get in New Orleans. Brees and the Saints were a play away from being in the NFC Championship, but a certain miracle happened. Brees is a free agent now, but it’s hard to imagine him leaving this team with the Saints on the cusp of NFC dominance. However. Brees isn’t a young Saint anymore as he’ll enter as a 39-year-old this upcoming season. Tick tock.
New York Giants
Another team just decimated by injuries up and down, the Giants also disrespected Eli Manning by ending his iron man streak at 210 starts. The man hasn’t always delivered for Big Blue, but when your quarterback starts that many games and avoids major injury, you can’t really ask for more. Well, you could ask for Super Bowl seasons, but now you’re being greedy.
New York Jets
Just like their Giants brothers, injuries and poor play halted any attempt of a decent season. Quarterback Josh McCown kept it interesting for a few games, but given the Jets’ roster consisted of nobodies, the rebuild will be in effect for quite some time.
When Derek Carr went down last season with a broken leg, the expectations were high for the 2017 season to challenge for top-dog in the AFC. However, at 6-6 late in the season, the Raiders never put it together and faded to the Chiefs in the AFC West. Exit Jack Del Rio and enter Jon Gruden.
Super Bowl LII Champion Philadelphia Eagles. It doesn’t get any sweeter when you win your first Super Bowl while taking down the Patriots in the process. Did I mentioned they won with backup QB Nick Foles? The Eagles emerged as a strong contender on both sides of the ball, and will look the part in 2018. Will they have a quarterback controversy on their hands when Carson Wentz returns? Doug Pederson said it’s his team moving forward, but we’ll have to see is Wentz is ready for the start of the season coming off his ACL tear.
The Steelers have arguably the greatest weapons at wide receiver and running back, with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. However, you do have to question if the Steelers looked past the Jags ahead of their match. A constant playoff contender, Pittsburgh has all the makings for a Super Bowl run. With Ben Roethlisberger contemplating retirement on and off, when will they put it all together?
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo got paid BIG TIME; Five years for $137.5 million. GM John Lynch believes their square-jawed stud is the answer at quarterback. After coming over in a late-season trade with the Patriots, Jimmy G won all six of his starts. Now, that was in the garbage time of their season, so we’ll have to see how he fares once he gets a 16-game schedule underway.
The Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time in the Russell Wilson era since … well never. This is the first time they’ve not qualified for the playoffs since getting Wilson under center. With the Rams on the rise, the Seahawks cannot afford to have late leads slip or slow starts plague their season. An improved O-Line to help Wilson and some sort of running game are areas of need. The Seahawks have a lot of missing pieces. The Legion of Boom has been hit with injuries the last few seasons. Is the window closing on the 12th man?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Maybe we don’t pump up our team by pretending to eat a W-shaped hand? Winston’s talent is there, but they need more pieces around to take them out of the basement of the NFC South.
Marcus Mariota led his team to a huge upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs during Wild Card Weekend. Even though they were trounced a week later, the Titans gained some experience. Though, Mariota finished the season with more interceptions than touchdowns. Not great.
Now starting at quarterback, Robert Grifiin III! RG3! RG3! OK … that’s not happening, but the Kirk Cousins era is officially over in Washington. After failing to reach an agreement on a contract, Washington decided it was time to move on from Cousins. Now Alex Smith will be leading the ‘Skins in a division that has pretty good quarterbacks. How will Smith do in his debut? We’ll have to wait and see.