NFL Playoff Teams That Won’t Return to Postseason Next Year
Super Bowl 53 odds come via TopBet and are accurate as of March 7. Though these lines won’t shift much in the coming months, still be sure double check them before placing a wager—particularly whenever trades go down, and especially leading into and after April’s draft.
Atlanta Falcons (+2500)
Beware of the Atlanta Falcons. Seriously. They barely skated into the playoffs this season; they snagged the final spot in the NFC bracket. Once they got there, despite tallying a win, they did nothing to convince us they are headed anywhere special.
Though the offense picked up towards the end of the year, it ultimately fizzled out in the postseason. The Falcons finished 15th in points scored per game one year after fielding one of the most potent attacks ever. It seems more likely they’ll repeat 2017’s happenings than 2016’s accolades. They still have Julio Jones to pick apart defenses with in conjunction with quarterback Matt Ryan, but their wideouts after him are iffy, and they don’t employ a premier tight end.
To complicate matters even further, the Falcons have already cut ties with a bunch of defensive players, and they have a few more who remain free agents. Stopping power became their calling card; they were eighth in points allowed per game. Any slippage on that side of the ball will do them in—particularly with squads like the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys all hoping to enter the postseason fray this time around.
Buffalo Bills (+10000)
Removing the Buffalo Bills from the 2018 playoff picture shouldn’t take much coercing—mostly because they didn’t belong in last year’s bubble.
Sure, they finished 9-7. But there was nothing special about them. The AFC in general was merely bad, and the AFC North, outside of the New England Patriots, was even worse.
This team ranked 22nd in points scored and 18th in points allowed, and it hasn’t gotten appreciably better over the offseason. If anything, with running back LeSean McCoy another year older, they may be on the visible decline. Chris Ivory will help lighten some of his workload in the backfield, but only if he stays healthy.
Beyond that, the Bills’ wide receiver situation is weird. Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews are two solid options, but is either one of them No. 1 material for a playoff-level offense? Probably not.
Carolina Panthers (+3500)
Additional competition in the NFC will make for some tough playoff cuts. We started with the Falcons, and we’ve now moved on to the Carolina Panthers.
Getting rid of veteran running back Jonathan Stewart puts a lot of pressure on sophomore Christian McCaffrey to show out. That seems fine on the surface, because he turned in a nice rookie campaign, but he excelled as a pass-catching option, not a north-and-south ground pounder.
The Panthers’ salary-cap situation is also troubling. They don’t project to have a lot of room after baking in contracts for rookies and, potentially, a new deal for Julius Peppers. That doesn’t bode well for an offense that, despite ranking 12th in points per game last season, needs a punch in the wide-receiver section.
It’d be great if the Panthers could add someone like Allen Robinson in free agency. A mid-tier option like him would solidify their place among postseason near-locks. But they can’t even afford him, so they’ll instead rely on in-house leaps—a risky proposition given that their best incumbent option may be the ever-shaky Devin Funchess.
Kansas City Chiefs (+3000)
Bluntly speaking, every one of these included teams are being overrated by sportsbooks. Their Super Bowl 53 odds shouldn’t be this favorable. But the Kansas City Chiefs are more egregiously overrated than any of their other peers.
Trading Alex Smith triggers some sort of a rebuild. It has to. It doesn’t matter how high the Chiefs are on Patrick Mahomes II. He has one career NFL start under his built.
Playing alongside veterans like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, along with a young juggernaut on the ground in Kareem Hunt, will help expedite his learning curve. The same holds true for a Chiefs defense that should rate more favorably than the 15th-place finish it secured last season.
Still, grace periods for young, inexperienced quarterbacks tend to last at least a full season, if not more. Even if the Chiefs are better than expected, they are not built like the 2016 Cowboys. They cannot carry a rookie QB to the playoffs if he’s not passing like a veteran.
Team To Be Wary Of
Jacksonville Jaguars (+2000)
The Jacksonville Jaguars could easily be included alongside the other four teams. But following their performance during last year’s postseason, definitively removing them from the playoff picture profiles as a little too disrespectful.
Jacksonville could still have the best running game in the league next year. It could also continue to deploy one of the two best defenses in terms of points per game. But replicating both of those success stories will be difficult, and their margin for error remains slim with the the recently extended Blake Bortles continuing to set up shop under center.
Throw a presumably healthy Andrew Luck, burgeoning Tennessee Titans team and juiced up Los Angeles Chargers team into the AFC equation, and this year’s playoff field will be ready-made to displace two to three (or more) previous inclusions.
And depending on how the rest of the offseason plays out, the Jaguars could be one of them.
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