Since the NFL adopted the current playoff format in 1990, an average of four teams who qualify for the playoffs the previous season miss the playoffs the following year. This begs the question: Which four teams are most likely to take a step back and miss the playoffs?
- Washington Redskins: 2015 Record 9-7 (4th Seed In The NFC)
Of all the 2015 playoff teams the Redskins are the most likely team to regress in terms of regular season success. Not only did the team overachieve by winning nine games, but they also benefited from playing in arguably the worst division in football- a division that included the injury plagued Dallas Cowboys, the inconsistent New York Giants, and the dysfunctional Philadelphia Eagles.
On paper the Redskins are the third best team in this division. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will be back for the Cowboys after dealing with injuries all last season and the Giants will likely improve after a peculiar stretch of seven games in which they blew a lead in the final two minutes.
Outside of the addition of Josh Norman, the Redskins did little to improve their roster as a whole. They’re relying on Kirk Cousins, who although played extremely well last season (leading the NFL in completion percentage), will likely take a step back. Outside of last season, Cousins has been pedestrian at best. His production relies heavily on the health of Jordan Reed, which is something that cannot be counted on. Reed has missed at least two games in each of his three seasons.
- Minnesota Vikings: 2015 Record 11-5 (3rd Seed In The NFC)
The Vikings shocked the world last season, finishing first in the NFC North, ahead of the vaunted Green Bay Packers. With that said, the Vikings are a prime candidate to disappoint in 2016.
Although I love the additions of Andre Smith and Alex Boone on the offensive line and their first-round-pick Laquon Treadwell at wide receiver, the Vikings lack of explosion on the offensive side of the football could be their Achilles heel. Adrian Peterson is 31 years old, and if history is any indication of what is to come, than we should expect somewhat of a regression from Peterson.Teddy Bridgewater has been far from spectacular at the NFL level. Despite leading them to 11 victories last season, Bridgewater was among the worst quarterbacks in terms of efficiency. If the offense doesn’t improve, than a step back is more likely than not for the Vikings.
Their schedule doesn’t make it any easier. Unlike last season, this year the Vikings will be playing a first place schedule.
- Denver Broncos: 2015 Record 12-4 (1st Seed In The AFC)
It would not shock me if the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos become the first team since the 2006 Steelers to miss the playoffs following a Super Bowl victory.
Not only are there a number of questions surrounding their starting quarterback, but suddenly their impenetrable defense looks much more vulnerable than ever before. Von Miller is currently in a contract dispute with the team; Aqib Talib is likely facing a suspension following an incident in which he was shot while intoxicated; DeMarcus Ware is dealing with an abundance of injuries. These aspects in conjunction with the losses of Mailk Jackson and Danny Trevathan almost guarantee that this defense will see some sort of regression.
- Kansas City Chiefs: 11-5 (5th Seed In The AFC)
Under head coach Andy Reid; the Chiefs have qualified for the playoffs in two of his three seasons. He’s done a tremendous job at turning this franchise around. From rebuilding the roster to changing the offensive scheme, Reid has revitalized the franchise.
With all that said the Chiefs’ 2016 roster appears eerily similar to their 2015 roster. This past offseason they did very little in terms of player acquisitions. Usually continuity equates to positive results, but for the Chiefs those results might not be positive. Not only is their best defensive player, Justin Houston recovering from knee surgery, but also their best offensive player, Jamaal Charles is coming off of his third ACL surgery. Their quarterback Alex Smith is about as average as a Tom Cruise movie, and very seldom do average quarterbacks make back-to-back playoff appearances.
Spark Sports NFL Analys