On average, four NFL playoff teams do not manage to make it back to the postseason in the following season. We actually believe there is more potential for upheaval this season. Read on to discover five teams who earned playoff berths last season who could easily slip into mediocrity in 2019.
5. Seattle Seahawks
It’s tough to bet against a team with Russell Wilson at the helm. On the other hand, the Seahawks seem determined to run the football more than any team outside of Baltimore this season. By the very nature of that strategy, they are neutralizing their team’s most profound offensive weapon.
I’m also very concerned about the strength of the NFC West. Obviously, the Rams will enter the season as the prohibitive favorite. It’s hard to imagine Sean McVay and company slipping all the way out of the playoff picture. That will leave the Seahawks battling with the 49ers for a wild card slot.
Would anyone really be surprised if Kyle Shanahan’s offense found a way to finish ahead of Seattle? That would obviously require Jimmy Garoppolo to stay healthy for a full season, but San Francisco’s roster has a lot of high-end talent. Oddsmakers aren’t fooled on this one, Seattle’s over/under win total for the season sits at 8.5. That’s a mediocre number for a team that a lot of people believe is playoff bound. Look for Seattle to miss out on the postseason this year.
4. Indianapolis Colts
This projection is almost all tied up in the questions about Andrew Luck’s health. The Colts aren’t going to be awful if he’s forced to miss a significant stretch of action, but it will push them back into the middle of the pack.
The current over/under for Frank Reich’s team stands at 9.5, but it hasn’t moved appreciably since questions popped up about Luck’s health. With all due respect to backup signal caller Jacoby Brissett, this team isn’t going above .500 if he’s the starter. The Colts are on this list with an asterisk at the moment, but it’s a situation that absolutely bears watching over the next several weeks.
3. Chicago Bears
The Monsters of the Midway are a prime regression candidate this season. Their defense is talented, but they produced turnovers at an outrageous rate in 2018. They could finish No. 1 in the NFL in turnovers this season and still see their interception total drop by double-digits.
If you believe the defense is going to take a step back, it means that Mitchell Trubisky and the offense will have to take a step forward to keep this team on schedule. Matt Nagy is a brilliant play caller, but Trubisky is, at best, an average quarterback. Everything about Chicago screams that they’ll take a tumble in the NFC North. Take the under at 9.5 wins.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens enter the 2019 season as arguably the most difficult team in the league to predict. They’re trying to build a dynamic offense built around the ground game while everyone else in the NFL gravitates towards the pass. We’re actually optimistic they can build an above-average attack, but it’s their defense that lands them on this list.
Losing C.J. Mosley from the middle of their linebacking corps is really going to hurt John Harbaugh’s defense. Za’Darius Smith was never a consistent starter, but losing him in free agency takes away from the team’s depth at edge rusher. Losing Terrell Suggs also harms Baltimore in that area.
Proponents in the Charm City will point to the acquisition of safety Earl Thomas as a cure-all. The reality is that Eric Weddle was a good player at the same position last season. Thomas is an upgrade, but he’s not the tonic that will elevate this unit to a top-5 ranking in the NFL.
It’s also worth noting that the Ravens start the season with the third best odds to win their own division. The losses to the Browns and Steelers are going to push Harbaugh and company out of the postseason.
1. Houston Texans
Inexplicably, the Texans front office failed to do the one thing required to solidify their football team in the offseason. They needed to find a way to protect quarterback Deshaun Watson. I’m not sold on the paltry moves they made to make that happen. That puts Watson at serious risk of suffering a serious injury on a weekly basis.
If Watson goes down, things are going to head south quickly for Bill O’Brien and company. They could go from first to worst in the AFC South. Oddsmakers are definitely pricing a potential Watson injury into Houston’s over/under. A mark of 8.5 is a clear sign they are expected to fall out of the postseason mix.