There’s arguably more parity in the NFL now than ever before, which means there’s no shortage of teams with at least a sliver of a chance of making the playoffs.
Of course, another way of saying there’s a lot of parity is to say there’s a shortage of elite teams. That almost certainly will be the case in a 32-team league. And while there might not be a ton of really good teams, there certainly are some bad ones.
The NFL season begins this week, and there’s no more optimism across the league than there will be now. For seven teams, though, there really is no hope.
The Jaguars should make this list every year until they can prove they might not totally suck. Unfortunately for them, that hasn’t been the case for quite some time now.
Even when the Jaguars do something that makes sense, it tends to blow up in their faces. Take this year’s draft, for instance, when they took talented linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. with the No. 3 overall pick. Good call, right? It took about a month for Fowler to suffer a season-ending knee injury.
That’s just Jags life.
It won’t get any better, either. They have a difficult schedule, with the AFC East, including a Week 3 trip to New England, on tap. Just more of the same for Jacksonville in 2015.
You basically can say the same things about the Jaguars as for the Raiders. They’re not very good, because they don’t have much talent, and they don’t have much talent because they haven’t done a very good job of building a competent football team.
That starts at quarterback, of course, and while the Raiders might have a good one in Derek Carr, they still feel like they’re a few years away. Drafting Amari Cooper is a nice start, but there are so many question marks up and down the roster. The Raiders also play in a division, the AFC West, in which all three other teams could be in contention for playoff berths this season.
There are train wrecks, and there are the Redskins. This team has been the NFL’s biggest joke in recent years, and the preseason didn’t do a whole lot to change that opinion. If anything, it made things worse.
Look no further than the Robert Griffin III debacle. The Redskins gave up a boatload of draft picks for this guy, and now he could be looking at the No. 3 quarterback job — if he isn’t traded in the meantime. The Redskins better hope Kirk Cousins is the QB they (or at least coach Jay Gruden) seem to believe he is, or this ongoing rebuild will be reset yet again.
Of all the teams on this list, the Bears would seem to have the best chance of making the playoffs — which isn’t saying a whole lot when it’s a list of teams we deem have no chance. But still.
Jay Cutler can win the Bears a game here or there, but he’ll also lose three or four along the way. For better or worse, the Bears also cut ties with Brandon Marshall in the offseason. The real issue, though, remains the defense, which was a sieve last season. Not much was done to inspire more confidence in that unit for 2015.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Perennial losers often have one thing in common: lack of stability at quarterback. The Bucs have been a prime example of that in recent seasons, and they have a growing run of futility to show for it.
This year, the Bucs drafted what some folks believe will be a franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston. However, the former Florida State star has his detractors. Even if Winston is the franchise QB the Bucs hope he is, there still are holes — far too many to picture Tampa Bay returning to the playoffs this season or next.
San Francisco 49ers
A season ago, the 49ers wouldn’t even be in consideration for this list. Boy, have things changed.
Jim Harbaugh literally went back to school, accepting the head-coaching job at Michigan. Linebacker Chris Borland retired at age 24. Patrick Willis and Justin Smith also retired. Frank Gore signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Aldon Smith was arrested (again) and released. Other than that, things went swimmingly this summer in San Francisco.
Let’s not forget Colin Kaepernick is coming off the worst season of his young career, too. This is a rebuild waiting to happen.
How does the old sports saying go? If you’re not selling wins, you’re selling hope? Well, for the last few years, the Titans have been selling neither.
That appears to be changing, as Tennessee did some nice things this offseason, first and foremost drafting Marcus Mariota. He’s obviously the future cornerstone, and if he doesn’t live up to expectations, the Titans are screwed. Regardless, it will take some time to learn the answer.
The Titans beefed up on defense, too, bringing in longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coordinator Dick LeBeau and signing linebacker Brian Orakpo. Both are nice moves, no doubt, but this still is very much a work in progress. Until Mariota proves he’s a viable quarterback and the Titans put some offensive talent around him, it will take a Music City miracle for Tennessee to make the playoffs.
Thumbnail photo via Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY Sports Images
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