An end of the year check on the NFL's winners and losers
Remember me? I was in the wonderful world of finals the past month, so surely my absence is excusable...anyways I’m too lazy to think of a new topic so I will be taking a look at the biggest winners and losers from the NFL season (as per my previous article) and evaluating where there are now and whether or not they still qualify as winners (or losers).
Kansas City Chiefs
Ugh. Right when you thought Alex Smith was a Super Bowl quarterback and Andy Reid had found his groove in KC...Any season is a lost one when you’re competing with the Chargers for a playoff spot. Though we’ll still see the Chiefs in the playoffs, they certainly aren’t the team we saw in the first half of the season, and if Kareem Hunt and Alex Smith can’t get back to their much above-par form of earlier on, I don’t see this Chiefs team going far.
I mean, Nick Foles is not bad, am I right? Dude owns the third best QBR in NFL history! Either way, Wentz meant so much more to that team than just what we saw, which will leave a big gap in the locker room. Now, will that galvanize the group or depress them? A 12-2 record says this team still rules the NFC.
Los Angeles Rams
Honestly, not a lot has changed for this team, besides Todd Gurley II somehow getting slightly better. They are still the offensive team to beat, Jared Goff is still proving this season is anything but a sophomore slump, and the Rams are cruising to an NFC West title (though they better watch out for Jimmy G and the 49ers next week…) If there is a lesson to be learned from all this, it’s that a move to LA is a win for any sports franchise ;)
New Orleans Saints
Pretty similar to the Rams, the Cajun Crushers have continued to build upon a strong, albeit surprising first half. Drew Breesus just ‘passed’ the 70,000 yard mark, and Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram form arguably the best backfield in the NFL (especially with Tevin Coleman having been injured). If the defense can hold up, the Saints could pull away from the Panthers and make a deep playoff run.
Case Keenum has proved he’s legit, and Adam Thielen couldn’t be happier. Ya, I’m sure my team could lose their QB1 and 2 plus their RB1 and still lead the division, but something about the way the Vikings are doing it makes you believe it’s sustainable. They’ve beaten bad teams, they’ve beaten good teams, and Mike Zimmer’s eyes have never looked better. Watch out for Minnesota, eh?
I mean, the Bills are still kinda maybe in the playoffs, but other than that this division has really fallen off since I lavished it with praise so long ago. Jets now have 10 losses, Dolphins aren’t far behind at nine, and the stupid Patriots are going to win the stupid AFC East for the freakin’ tenth year in a row. I couldn’t be more disappointed in you guys. I mean, Nathan Peterman?!?!??!?!? I thought T-Mobile was the most underrated quarterback in the League! Oh wait…
AFC South (except minus the Texans)
Yeah, Deshaun Watson is still injured (as is Tom Savage, Kyle Shanahan’s second favorite quarterback prospect from the 2014 Draft) so the Texans are still losers. As far as the other teams, the Titans and Jaguars have provided some great back and forth this year, from the Titans smoking Jacksonville in Week 2 to Jimmy G taking down Tennessee in San(ta Clara). That loss plus another this past week to the Rams actually has the Titans sitting in hot water, but the AFC is very forgiving (ala the Eastern Conference in the NBA). The Jags have a fierce d coupled with either a beastly Leonard Fournette or a streaky Blake Bortles (you can only have one), and the Colts found a somewhat suitable replacement for future free agent Andrew Luck, as well as a future Hall of Famer in stud FORMER 49ERS RUNNING BACK Frank Gore.
San Francisco 49ers
As an ESPN article said, “Why do they need their top pick? They have Jimmy G.”
Rosen is giving you the Eli Manning treatment (funny how he prefers the Giants as well. What is it with them and rookie quarterbacks?) and you STILL have yet to win. Following the 49ers’ path, they have locked up a GM and head coach for the next few years in hopes of providing some stability to honestly the worst sports franchise ever. Deshone Kizer has “shone” that he is definitely incapable of leading (or even playing for) an NFL team, though he is a rookie. Josh Gordon is back and hasn’t relapsed since July (✓) and the rest of the team is really a blur...Sorry Jamie Collins.
New York Giants
At least you got a top 2 pick coming your way...Steve Spagnuolo is definitely not the long-term answer at head coach, so they’d better hope he doesn’t pull a Vic Fangio on them when they start looking for a new head coach. The team doesn’t seem that bad, they just don’t play well...Next year will almost certainly be a better one for East Rutherford (but the Jets…)
Green Bay Packers
Well, my faith in Brett Hundley was misfounded. Dude doesn’t seem to have learned anything under Rodgers (whether that’s his fault or not) and the rest of the team is definitely deflated. Oh well. They’ll be back in the playoffs next year.
Darn, I really thought they would make more of a playoff push. They’re lucky the Seahawks and Cowboys had down years. Though they’ve been lost behind the Panthers and Saints, they are still a very talented team who won the NFC last year, plus they have Julio Quintorris Jones. Man is an animal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yikes. Now Jameis has more on his plate than just another horrifically inconsistent season (I’m looking at you misconduct case from FSU). Dirk Koetter and his klub earned themselves a spot on Hard Knocks only to...well, do what every other team that goes on Hard Knocks does. The whole team has just flopped, and they’d better hope nicer things are ahead.
They sure made it interesting, didn’t they? Of course, we knew the Chargers would never actually win the division crown, but they might sneak into the playoffs. Oakland was having a down year, and that loss to the Nick Foles-led Eagles really stuck the nail in their coffin. Hopefully Derek Carr can get back to healthy form next season (and they find a running back to replace the good but soon-departing Marshawn Lynch).
I don’t even know what to say...not because their performance this season but due to the fact that I really don’t know anything about their team. They’ve had such a blah season that’s actually subpar for them that no one’s really paying attention (besides Bengals fans of course). Andy Dalton has some figuring out to do lest he let A.J McCarron grab the starting role (in Cleveland).