We said it last year, and we’ll say it again in 2021: Your favorite NFL team probably sucks.
“Sucks” might strike a bit of a wide swath. You’re probably using words like “rebuild” and “retool” and “potential” as comfort phrases to help you through another, brutal, ineffective, losing season as an NFL fan.
“Next year” has been “next year” for the last 10 years. It’s fine. It happens. Rebellions are built on hope, after all. But bridges, buildings and other forms of infrastructure aren’t built on hope. They’re built with steel and other tangible things that like, actually matter and can support. Things you can touch and feel and mold.
So, you can hope as much as you’d like, but these teams have absolutely, positively zero shot at winning Super Bowl 56.
NFL POWER RANKINGS:
New York Jets
2020 record: 2-14
We promise this is not cut-and-paste from last year.
It’s a familiar listing, but don’t use “Same Old Jets,” though: With Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh leading the charge, it looks like the Jets of yesteryear are dead. Long live Adam Gase.
But no matter how strong the good vibes are with Gang Green, the fact remains: The roster is not very deep, Zach Wilson is a rookie and the head coach is an unproven commodity. Couple that with the fact that defensive end Carl Lawson, one of New York’s big-ticket free agents, is going to miss the year with a torn Achilles,
Saleh has done well to wash the Gase stench out of the turf fields in Florham Park, but that doesn’t amount to much until the games are played. The Jets will probably be more competitive this year, but more competitive won’t amount to anything close to a Super Bowl appearance.
2020 record: 4-12
There’s no way you can spin the 2021 Texans as anything other than an imminent disaster, and that might be putting it lightly when it comes to disasters.
Under the leadership of new GM Nick Caserio, Houston has gone a very, very big roster churn, but make no mistake, this is Year 1 of what may be a total rebuild, especially with the uncertainty surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Coming off the chaotic last few years of the Bill O’Brien era, Houston has a lot of work to do, and until there’s an on-and-off the field resolution surrounding Watson, it’s hard to see if the Texans are improved enough (spoiler alert: they’re not) to make noise or the Super Bowl.
David Culley has his hands full in Houston. It may be too much to carry in Year 1 of his Texans tenure.
2020 record: 4-11-1
Hurts so good? More like Hurts so questionable.
There seems to be more than a little trepidation surrounding quarterback Jalen Hurts’ standing as future franchise starter with Philadelphia. Coupling that with a first-year head coach that seems out of his depth at times, and an offseason mired in weird timing with the firing of Doug Pederson.
After trading off Carson Wentz, the Eagles seem to be in a rebuild-on-the-fly (Eagles fly) type deal, something that typically doesn’t work in the NFL.
If the offensive line plays up to its capabilities, maybe the Hurts-Devonta Smith hookup can give defenses fits. Hurts, though, is going to have to improve on his first-year passing to give Philadelphia any hope of competition this year.
Hey, Nick Foles is available, if they want to rub the genie bottle and squeeze out another Super Bowl wish.
2020 record: 1-15
First year quarterback, first-year head coach and coming off the release of Tim Tebow? Maybe they can overcome two things, but definitely not three.
The Jaguars are, from a talent-level, on the up-and-up. There’s are some pretty big question marks surrounding Urban Meyer and what he may be able to do coming from the college ranks. The past history of college coaches making the jump to the NFL isn’t entirely encouraging, either.
So far, Meyer’s tenure has been mired in head-scratching decisions and the Tebow circus, which ultimately doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But Jacksonville has a long, long way to go, even with an unbreaking quarterback prospect like Trevor Lawrence.
This year will be a lot about what Lawrence can do and what pieces will stick around Jacksonville, not about the Super Bowl.
2020 record: 5-11
The Panthers have an unproven quarterback and an unproven defense. That’s typically a very bad mix.
While Carolina’s defense is unproven, it’s also very young and is full of potential. The jury is still out, though, on Sam Darnold: For Darnold to turn around from being one of the worst quarterbacks in football since entering the league — regardless of situation — to being serviceable under center is going to be a Herculean task for Joe Brady, Matt Rhule and Co.
Darnold will have more skill position help with Carolina than he ever had with New York, but the offensive line is still shaky, which won’t help his PTSD.
The Panthers are still the fourth-best team in their division, so don’t expect them to emerge from the NFC South or even sniff the playoffs this year. Especially if Darnold is still New York Darnold.
2020 record: 5-11
Dan Campbell might have more headlines than the Lions have wins this year.
Don’t let the the kneecap biting threats distract you. Campbell and Detroit are a perfect fit, and new GM Brad Holmes and the rest of the Lions front office seems to have a good handle on the direction the team should be moving in.
With Matthew Stafford out, Jared Goff in, and a hungry Lions team looking to exorcize the demons left by Matt Patricia, there’s a good chance this group is vicious and hungry for wins. If there’s anything they can hang their hat on, it’s the offensive line, which is one of the better units in all of football.
Then you add the promising first-round selection Penei Sewell to the mix, the defensive line’s chances at winning drastically go down.
The Lions could be better than a lot of people think this year, but with limited offensive skill position talent and a defense that’s budding but not quite there yet, they’re still a year away from being a year away.
2020 record: 4-12
Arthur Smith’s hiring in Atlanta coupled with the draft selection of Kyle Pitts means Atlanta feels like a win-now squad. Unfortunately, the “win” part of that is very questionable.
The Falcons are in a very difficult spot as an organization: With an aging Ryan under center and Ryan’s No. 1 favorite target now with the Titans, it’s difficult to tell whether they’re coming or going. Calvin Ridley and can’t-miss Pitts will still make a veritable 1-2 punch for Ryan and the offense, but it’s everywhere else on the team that’s a bit concerning.
The Falcons’ offensive line could be improved, but it’s a big maybe: A lot of their success depends on if Kaleb McGary can continue to improve and if 2021 draft picks Jaylen Mayfield and Drew Dalman are instant contributors along the line.
They should still be competitive, but in a division that has the Super Bowl winners and a few other equal-footing teams, it’s tough to see how Atlanta makes their way through the division and a competitive NFC to grab a wild-card spot, let alone make the playoffs.
2020 record: 4-11-1
Year 2 of Joe Burrow and Zac Taylor is likely going to take a step forward, but no one is confusing the Bengals for Bowl-bound. Especially not in a division where the Browns, Steelers and Ravens still exist, and are varying degrees of good.
Drafting Ja’Marr Chase to placate Burrow was, certainly, a move: While Cincy’s tackle situation isn’t terrible (and the sack that cost Burrow his knee and his season came from the inside of the line), eyebrows were raised when they opted to reunite Chase with Burrow and not draft Oregon’s Penei Sewell to help shore up the line, instead.
With Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd out wide, there’s a good chance the Bengals offense could be better, but it’s difficult to see if they finish anywhere other than last for the fourth year in a row.
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