7 NFL playoff teams last year that might not make the postseason in 2017

Movie quote of the day:

“Memory can change the shape of a room, the color of a car. Memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation…they’re not a record. And they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.”

– Leonard, “Memento” (2000)

Real quick, yes, I changed the name of my blog. “Expressing My Own Ignorance” didn’t feel like the best title for a blog now that I’m looking for a job, and potential employers could be reading. Anyway, NFL preseason has started, training camps have been going on for a few weeks now – which means it’s time to start looking ahead to this upcoming season. Football is my favorite sport, and I couldn’t be happier that its return is just around the corner. In this first blog post of the football preseason, I’m going to break down which NFL playoff teams from last year might struggle to get back to the postseason this year, and I’m going to give one big reason why I think so. Take a look:

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan reacts during the third quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium.

Atlanta Falcons
2016 record: 11-5
Playoff finish: Lost in Super Bowl
Key additions: DE Jack Crawford, DT Dontari Poe, WR Andre Roberts
Key departures: FB Patrick DiMarco, LB Paul Worrilow
2017 draft class: Edge Takkarist McKinley (Round: 1 Pick: 26), LB Duke Riley (Round: 3 Pick: 75), G Sean Harlow (Round: 4 Pick: 136), S Damontae Kazee (Round: 5 Pick: 149), RB Brian Hill (Round: 5 Pick: 156), TE Eric Saubert (Round: 5 Pick: 174)
One big reason this team could miss the postseason in 2017: NFC South teams don’t fare well the year after making a Super Bowl appearance

That’s right, I’m not going with a Super Bowl LI hangover, or the loss of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as the reasons for a possible Atlanta setback this season. I think the bigger problem for the Falcons is that NFC South teams don’t tend to play well the year after appearing in a Super Bowl. This has been a trend since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002 and went to eight four-team divisions – which started the NFC South division. Since then, there have been four teams from the NFC South (excluding Atlanta last year) that have made Super Bowl appearances (Buccaneers, 2002; Panthers, 2003; Saints, 2009; Panthers, 2015) and only one of them made the playoffs the following year (Saints, 2010). That’s not a good track record for the Falcons. Then you factor in a potential Super Bowl hangover, the loss of Shanahan, they play in a tough division, and they have some long road trips against tough opponents this season, I’m having a hard time believing the Falcons can get back to the postseason this year.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott runs with the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium.

Dallas Cowboys
2016 record: 13-3
Playoff finish: Lost in divisional round
Key additions: CB Nolan Carroll, DT Stephen Paea
Key departures: QB Tony Romo, TE Gavin Escobar, G Ronald Leary, T Doug Free, DE Jack Crawford, DT Terrell McClain, CB Brandon Carr, CB Morris Claiborne, SS Barry Church, FS J.J. Wilcox
2017 draft class: Edge Taco Charlton (Round: 1 Pick: 28), CB Chidobe Awuzie (Round: 2 Pick: 60), CB Jourdan Lewis (Round: 3 Pick: 92), WR Ryan Switzer (Round: 4 Pick: 133), S Xavier Woods (Round: 6 Pick: 191), CB Marquez White (Round: 6 Pick: 216), DT Joey Ivie (Round: 7 Pick: 228), WR Noah Brown (Round: 7 Pick: 239), DT Jordan Carrell (Round: 7 Pick: 246)
One big reason this team could miss the postseason in 2017: First place schedule

Not having Ezekiel Elliott for the first six games is going to hurt, but I don’t think it’ll hurt that much since Dallas has three games during that stretch against teams with question marks surrounding its quarterback situation (Denver, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco). The main reason why I think the Cowboys could miss the playoffs this season is because their schedule is going to be a first place schedule since they won the NFC East division last year. Nothing against Dak Prescott and Elliott, they did tremendous things as rookies, but they were playing a last place schedule last season. The Cowboys only played three teams last year that had 10 wins or more, they played just eight Pro Bowl quarterbacks, and had an overall strength of schedule of .471 – sixth worst in the league last year. This season, Dallas will play six teams that won 10 games or more last year (three on the road), nine Pro Bowl quarterbacks (five on the road, and three during Elliott’s suspension), and will have an overall strength of schedule of .531 – which puts the Cowboys in the top 10 this preseason. On top of a tougher schedule and Elliott’s suspension, teams now have had a year to prepare for Prescott, and the Cowboys lost four starters from last year’s already mediocre defense (three in the secondary). I think things will be much tougher this season in Dallas this season, but I won’t be shocked if the Cowboys can get to 10 wins.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford drops back to pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Detroit Lions
2016 record: 9-7
Playoff finish: Lost in wild card round
Key additions: T Ricky Wagner, DT Akeem Spence, LB Paul Worrilow, TE Darren Fells, G T.J. Lang
Key departures: LB DeAndre Levy, T Riley Reiff, G Larry Warford, WR Andre Roberts, LB Jon Bostic, WR Anquan Boldin
2017 draft class: LB Jarrad Davis (Round: 1 Pick: 21), CB Teez Tabor (Round: 2 Pick: 53), WR Kenny Golladay (Round: 3 Pick: 96), LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Round: 4 Pick: 124), TE Michael Roberts (Round: 4 Pick: 127), CB Jamal Agnew (Round: 5 Pick: 165), Edge Jeremiah Ledbetter (Round: 6 Pick: 205), QB Brad Kaaya (Round: 6 Pick: 215), Edge Pat O’Connor (Round: 7 Pick: 250)
One big reason this team could miss the postseason in 2017: In the same division as Green Bay and Minnesota

Detroit is capable of getting back to the postseason this year. The Lions have a Pro Bowl quarterback, decent weapons on the perimeter, and they’re well coached. However, playing in the same division as Green Bay (an NFC powerhouse that has won the NFC North five of the last six seasons), and Minnesota (a team with an extremely talented defensive personnel) will make things difficult. I like some of the moves this team made in the offseason like signing guard T.J. Lang and tackle Rick Wagner to help bolster the offensive line, and drafting linebacker Jarrad Davis in the first round. However, this team still doesn’t have a quality run game (which won’t fare well against Minnesota), and its pass rush and secondary are still subpar (which won’t help when facing Aaron Rodgers). The schedule isn’t too tough though. The Lions will travel the fourth fewest amount of miles this year, but they also face nine Pro Bowl quarterbacks (five on the road, and seven in their first eight games). I have a feeling this team will take a step back this year.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to pass the ball against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

Houston Texans
2016 record: 9-7
Playoff finish: Lost in divisional round
Key additions: S Marcus Gilchrist
Key departures: CB A.J. Bouye, S Quintin Demps
2017 draft class: QB Deshaun Watson (Round: 1 Pick: 12), LB Zach Cunningham (Round: 2 Pick: 57), RB D’Onta Foreman (Round: 3 Pick: 89), T Julie’n Davenport (Round: 4 Pick: 130), DT Carlos Watkins (Round: 4 Pick: 142), CB Treston Decoud (Round: 5 Pick: 169), C Kyle Fuller (Round: 7 Pick: 243)
One big reason this team could miss the postseason in 2017: Uncertainty at quarterback

There’s too much uncertainty surrounding Houston’s quarterback situation for my taste. The Texans made a good move by trading the dumpster fire that is Brock Osweiler in the offseason, and then traded up to get Deshaun Watson in the draft. It looks like the starter for this season will be between Watson (an unproven rookie), and three-year veteran Tom Savage (who didn’t throw a touchdown pass in three games played last year). Nothing against Watson, but my money is on Savage to win the job since he’s been in the system longer – but I think Watson will be the starter by week four. Despite poor quarterback play last year, Houston still won nine games, won the AFC South division, and advanced to the divisional round of the postseason. It’s hard to imagine quarterback play will be much worse this year with Osweiler gone, which should give Texans fans hope. However, the AFC South got A LOT better this offseason, especially by two teams that have better quarterbacks than Houston – Tennessee and Indianapolis. The schedule is favorable though. Houston doesn’t have a lot of travel, and only has to play four teams that won 10 games or more last year (two on the road), seven Pro Bowl quarterbacks (three on the road), and has an overall strength of schedule of .455. I won’t be totally shocked if the Texans can clinch another postseason bid for a third consecutive season (which has never happened before in franchise history) but I think the AFC South is going to be much better this season, which will make it difficult for Houston.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith exhales during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City Chiefs
2016 record: 12-4
Playoff finish: Lost in divisional round
Key additions: DT Bennie Logan, RB C.J. Spiller, TE Gavin Escobar
Key departures: WR Jeremy Maclin, DT Dontari Poe, RB Jamaal Charles, RB Knile Davis
2017 draft class: QB Patrick Mahomes (Round: 1 Pick: 10), DL Tanoh Kpassagnon (Round: 2 Pick: 59), RB Kareem Hunt (Round: 3 Pick: 86), WR Jehu Chesson (Round: 4 Pick: 139), LB Ukeme Eligwe (Round: 5 Pick: 183), S Leon McQuay III (Round: 6 Pick: 218)
One big reason this team could miss the postseason in 2017: Key players are aging

Kansas City has a good roster and is well coached, but one of the reasons I feel like the Chiefs might not make the playoffs this year is because some of their key players aren’t getting any younger. Alex Smith turned 33 in May, Eric Berry turns 29 in December, and Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali will turn 35 and 34 in November. Those are some key players that have helped made the Chiefs a playoff-caliber team since Andy Reid took over as head coach in 2013. They have more problems than just that: Justin Houston can’t stay healthy, they have a mediocre offensive line, a revolving door of a running back rotation, and a subpar front seven defensively. This team also has a tough schedule this season. They play six teams that won 10 games or more last year (they’ll play Oakland twice), and they’ll face seven Pro Bowl quarterbacks (Derek Carr twice, and five of those games will be on the road). Kansas City won 12 games last year, but I’ll honestly be shocked if they win more than 10 games this season.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler during training camp at Baptist Health Training Facility. Cutler was signed by the Dolphins recently to take over quarterback duties after Ryan Tannehill’s knee injury.

Miami Dolphins
2016 record: 10-6
Playoff finish: Lost in wild card round
Key additions: TE Julius Thomas, DE William Hayes, LB Lawrence Timmons, G Ted Larsen, S Nate Allen, TE Anthony Fasano, S T.J. McDonald, QB Jay Cutler
Key departures: TE Jordan Cameron, LB Jelani Jenkins, TE Dion Sims, DT Earl Mitchell, DE Mario Williams
2017 draft class: DE Charles Harris (Round: 1 Pick: 22), LB Raekwon McMillan (Round: 2 Pick: 54), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Round: 3 Pick: 97), G Isaac Asiata (Round: 5 Pick: 164), DT Davon Godchaux (Round: 5 Pick: 178), DT Vincent Taylor (Round: 6 Pick: 194), WR Isaiah Ford (Round: 7 Pick: 237)
One big reason this team could miss the postseason in 2017: No Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill is done for the year due to a knee injury, and it’s now Jay Cutler’s team. In Tannehill’s 13 games last year, he threw for 2,995 yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and had a passer rating of 93.5. I feel like those numbers are well within Cutler’s capabilities, and he arguably had his best year statistically when Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator in Chicago, in 2015. However, we know what Cutler is and he’s high risk, medium reward, and not a leader. If the Dolphins aren’t playing well, we know Cutler isn’t going to help them out from a leadership standpoint – that’s where I think Tannehill will be missed. Plus, Miami’s schedule is tough this year. The Dolphins have to travel a total of 27,520 miles this season (fourth most in the league) – including a game in London. They also face eight Pro Bowl quarterbacks (six of those are on the road, and one is in London) this year. Miami’s defense is pretty good, but the Dolphins have already lost linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Koa Misi for the year. I think it’s going to be tough for Miami to get back to the playoffs.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. runs for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium.

New York Giants
2016 record: 11-5
Playoff finish: Lost in wild card round
Key additions: WR Brandon Marshall, G D.J. Fluker
Key departures: DT Jonathan Hankins, T Marshall Newhouse, WR Victor Cruz
2017 draft class: TE Evan Engram (Round: 1 Pick: 23), DT Dalvin Tomlinson (Round: 2 Pick: 55), QB Davis Webb (Round: 3 Pick: 87), RB Wayne Gallman (Round: 4 Pick: 140), Edge Avery Moss (Round: 5 Pick: 167), T Adam Bisnowaty (Round: 6 Pick: 200)
One big reason this team could miss the postseason in 2017: A lot of travel this season

21,883. That’s the total number of miles that the New York Giants have to travel this season (No. 9 in the league), and they don’t even play a game outside the country. The Giants have to play five games west of the Mississippi River (Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Oakland, and Arizona). NFL road games take a toll, especially when the team has to travel a long way. New York also will have to face nine Pro Bowl quarterbacks (five on the road), and face nine teams with stellar pass rushes – I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but the Giants’ offensive line is abysmal. On top of that, Odell Beckham Jr. is a circus right now and has been saying he wants to be the highest paid player the NFL, and I think that’s going to be a huge distraction. The Giants’ defense should be pretty good again this year, but if they can’t find some balance offensively and can’t keep Eli Manning upright, I’m having a hard time seeing the Giants clinch another postseason berth for a second straight year.

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53

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One thought on “7 NFL playoff teams last year that might not make the postseason in 2017

  1. Interesting thoughts.

    First I must say I’m an Atlanta Falcons fan. To say the Falcons will not make the playoffs based on Kyle Shanahan departure, and teams typically not playing well after Super Bowl loses…. Is a bit irritating.

    I must say I understand where you are coming from…. But you’re leaving out this most important part….. DEFENSE!

    Falcons have a lot more depth defensively particularly on the defensive line. Dontari Poe, Jack Crawford, Takk McKinley, returning Derrick Shelby, Adrian Clayborn returning from injury.

    The most importantly Falcons were without their premiere corner Desmond Trufant for the second half of the season. Robert Alford has stepped up his game, becoming a legitimate threat opposite Trufant…..

    With these guys returning i honestly believe Falcons could be poised for a great season defensively. That alone should lead them to the playoffs.

    Like

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