The beauty of the NFL is that every team has a shot to surprise. We’ve seen awful teams in the NBA, NHL, and MLB have decent 16 game stretches. So a team that perhaps shouldn’t be equipped for long term success can have a hot streak for half the season, and that could be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Everybody is mostly healthy right now too, so here’s a look at why every single team could be successful this season.
Arizona Cardinals – Defense Could Be Loaded
I think the Cardinals are a year or two away from becoming a competitor again, but there is some hope for this year’s squad. The defense could really improve; Patrick Peterson is still a top tier cornerback. Tre Boston and Budda Baker form a very good safety duo. Chandler Jones is still elite, and I expect big things from Haason Reddick. If Bradford and/or Rosen can avoid getting injured, there’s a chance they’ll be playing in close games.
Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson is Still Russell Wilson
Sure, the defense lost some pieces, and the offensive line is still a mess. But Russell Wilson is at worst the 5th best quarterback in football. With him at the helm, there’s no reason to count out this football team.
San Francisco 49ers – So Much Young Talent
I don’t think people understand how talented this roster is. The offense is more than Jimmy Garoppolo. The offensive line was adequate last season, and they add a stud in Mike McGlinchey. Pierre Garcon, Marquis Goodwin, and Dante Pettis could be a lethal trio of receivers. Garrett Celek and George Kittle form a balanced TE duo. Jerick McKinnon has been underrated for years. The defense is deep at every position. Richard Shermon, Ahkello Witherspoon and Jaquiski Tartt could all perform very well. I think rookie Tarvarius Moore could be a sleeper as well. Even if Reuben Foster ends up missing more than 2 games, Eli Harold, Fred Warner, Elijah Lee, and Korey Toomer are all very solid options at linebacker. Deforest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas lead a vicious defensive line. Watch out for the Niners.
Los Angeles Rams – The Roster AND Coaching Staff Are Stacked
The Aaron Donald situation needs to be situated, but look at this roster. Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Ndamukong Suh, and Brandin Cooks join a team that already proved to be elite last year. Wade Phillips is a top tier DC, and Sean McVay could be the next great coach in this league. This could be a huge year.
Chicago Bears – New Coach, New Weapons, Underrated Defense
This defense was pretty underrated last season, and now there will be less pressure since the offense is bound to be better. Matt Nagy is the opposite of John Fox, and there’s actual weapons to work with now. Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton could all play a huge roll in this offense. Javon Wims could also sneak in there. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard are a fantastic RB duo. As long as Mitch Trubisky isn’t terrible, which I don’t think he is, this offense should be significantly better.
Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers is Back, And The Secondary Has A New Look
Aaron Rodgers. There, the offense is good. So let’s look at the defense. There are potentially three cornerbacks who could shine this season; Kevin King, Joshua Jackson, and Jaire Alexander. If even two of them live up to their potential, and the front seven remains solid, watch out. Kenny Clark could burst onto the scene this year. If this defense is even remotely above average, the league is in trouble.
Detroit Lions – The Offensive Line Just Needs to Be Average
I really like their receiving trio. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are both perennially underrated, and Kenny Golladay could have a huge year. Kerryon Johnson was a hot sleeper pick for a lot of people, and I was a big fan of tight end Michael Roberts coming out of college. Frank Ragnow, TJ Lang, and Taylor Decker could all shine on the offensive line. Can they find two other adequate fill ins? Can Tyrell Crosby live up to his sleeper potential? If so, this could be a brand new offense.
Minnesota Vikings – Kirk Cousins is Better Than Case Keenum
This roster is still loaded. Their defense somehow got better with the addition of Sheldon Richardson. They have one of the best receiving duos in the league. Dalvin Cook could be a star. I think people are underselling the fact that this is by far and away the best roster Kirk Cousins has ever played with. And he is by far and away the best quarterback this team has had since Brett Favre. This could be a fun team.
Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz Is Being Added to A Roster That Just Won The Super Bowl
They just won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles. Now they add the man who SHOULD have won MVP last season if not for the evil injury bug. Yea… I’m not joking, 19-0 is not out of the question.
Dallas Cowboys – The Defense Just Needs to Be Adequate
I’m not super concerned about the receiving corps. They still have Zeke and one of the best offensive lines in football, which added a top prospect in Connor Williams. Their secondary is pretty loaded; Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Byron Jones are all due for good seasons. Sean Lee staying healthy would be a nice bonus, but I’m curious to see Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch this season. David Irving, Tyrone Crawford, and Demarcus Lawrence are studs, and Taco Charlton could really improve as well. This team should be alright.
New York Giants – Eli Manning Is Not As Washed As You Think
This offense should be significantly better next season. Nate Solder and Will Hernandez will make this offensive line… not terrible. Saquon Barkley will provide matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. Odell Beckham returns, and Sterling Shepard is evolving into a very nice player. The defense was not the problem last year, if this offense can be average, this will be a very balanced team.
Washington Redskins – Alex Smith Is Always A Winner
Alex Smith always wins. He’s always consistent. He’s not Brady. He’s not Rodgers. He’s not Brees. But he’s proven year in and year out that he can get the job done. He has benefitted from good coaching/rosters, but this Redskins roster isn’t bad by any means. They don’t have a star receiver, but there’s plenty of depth. Mr. Irrelevant Trey Quinn could actually make some noise. Jordan Reed is still a star, Vernon Davis is a solid vet, and even if they both get hurt, Jeremy Sprinkle is a nice young option for them. Chris Thompson and Derrius Guice will form a very nice RB duo. The offensive line is also above average. The defense lacks elite star power, but Ryan Kerrigan is as close to that as you can get. I can see big years from Ryan Anderson, Matt Ioannidis, and Jonathan Allen as well. They play in a tough division, but this is a very balanced roster with a quarterback who has always been successful.
New Orleans Saints – Young Players Should Only Improve
When you have a Hall of Fame Quarterback, a top-tier offensive line, a star-studded arsenal of weapons, and a defense that isn’t terrible, you’re bound to make noise. Marshon Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams and Trey Hendrickson should all build off of their impressive rookie seasons. I’m never a fan of trading up early in the draft if it isn’t for a QB, but Marcus Davenport could provide an extra spark to this defense.
Atlanta Falcons – There’s No Reason To Think This Team Won’t Improve
The offensive line? Still golden. Matt Ryan? Still very good. The receiving corps? Somehow better. Tight End? Nothing special, but they’ll get by. Running backs? A couple of well rounded stars. So yea, this offense will be great. The defense should also shine. Deion Jones could enter a new level, Grady Jarrett is still a stud, Keanu Neal is working out his game, Vic Beasley could reach his potential. This defense is full of speed. The Falcons are Super Bowl contenders.
Carolina Panthers – The Roster is Very Balanced
This isn’t the 2016 roster, but it’s still pretty talented. The offensive line isn’t elite, but there’s solid talent there; I’m excited to see what Taylor Moton can do in his second year. Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel could provide some great versatility for the offense, and Greg Olsen is still an upper echelon tight end. The defense still has Kawann Short and Luke Kuechly, along with some solid depth everywhere else.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Youth Everywhere Could Improve
Another team with a great trio of receivers; Chris Godwin could really break out this season. OJ Howard is bound to improve this season, and Cameron Brate is another great TE option. Ronald Jones was a great snag, and Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith could both improve this season. I really like their defensive line; Vita Vea was a steal, and Beau Allen was a solid signing to add with Gerald McCoy. Vernon Hargreaves and Kwon Alexander could both be in for nice seasons as well.
Los Angeles Chargers – The Chargers Finally Have Depth
This team is already in midseason form, losing Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett before the season evan began. Luckily, they have a lot of depth. This offensive line should be significantly better with the addition of Mike Pouncey and the return of Forrest Lamp. Even if Mike Williams does turn out to be a bust, they still have a dynamic trio of receivers with Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Travis Benjamin. Virgil Green is a nice fill in for Hunter Henry. They possess one of the best pass rushing duos in football, and their secondary is as deep as it gets. Derwin James and Kyzir White both add a new dynamic to their defense as well. This team has talent at every level for the first time in a while.
Denver Broncos – Case Keenum Is Better Than… Who Started for Denver Last Year?
Trevor Siemian? Paxton Lynch? Who cares, Case is better. This offensive line could improve too, especially Garret Bolles. They added DaeSean Hamilton and Courtland Sutton to an already loaded receiving corps, and Jake Butt could have a nice bounce back season after missing the last with an injury. The defense was already great, and then they went and added Bradley Chubb. Can Case Keenum be decent? If so, this team could thrive.
Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr Is Still Really Talented
I wasn’t a big fan of their draft class. I’m not a huge fan of their roster. And I have no idea what to think of Jon Gruden. But Derek Carr is still an unbelievable QB. And unlike Seattle, the Raiders still have a good offensive line, even if it isn’t what it was a few years ago. They have a shot.
Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes is The Savior
Mahomes is going to be special. He’s not perfect, but he has a trait to him that you can’t teach. Give him a stable offense, and he will thrive. The defense might not be elite, but they still have playmakers, including Eric Berry, Chris Jones, and Kendall Fuller. This could be a very fun season for them.
Pittsburgh Steelers – They’re Still Loaded
Until proven otherwise, I’ll believe the team with a Hall of Fame QB, a great offensive line, the best receiving corps in the NFL, and a top 3 running back will continue to succeed on offense. The defense was actually very impressive last year as well. They’re gonna be good again.
Cleveland Browns – They Actually Have A QB Now
Deshone Kizer was so atrocious last year that it overshadowed the fact that the Browns actually have a good roster. Not an average roster. A GOOD roster. Their defense is stacked with young talent. Larry Ogunjobi, Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, and Jabrill Peppers could all take another step this season. They drafted well, adding Denzel Ward and Chad Thomas to an already talented defense. The offensive line was already solid, and then they went and added one of the most versatile linemen in the draft in Austin Corbett. Even if Josh Gordon doesn’t play, the receiving corps has a ton of talent in Corey Coleman, Jarvis Landry, and Antonio Callaway. Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, and Nick Chubb are a dynamite trio of runners. And Tyrod Taylor is a massive upgrade over Kizer. It kills me that they took Mayfield and Ward instead of Darnold and Bradley Chubb, but still, Mayfield could thrive with all of this talent around him. If they weren’t the Browns, I’d legitimately see deep playoff aspirations for this team. This is an incredible roster.
EDIT – The Browns traded Corey Coleman for a 2020 7th round pick. I still believe in their offense, but that needed to be noted.
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco Finally Has A Chip on His Shoulder
Joe Flacco hasn’t been the same since he got his big contract. There are two reasons that could change this season. First, he has a wide array of new weapons. Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, Jordan Lasley, Jaleel Scott, Hayden Hurst, and Mark Roberts could all help this offense. Also, there’s a hot new backup behind him that you might have heard of. His name is Lamar Jackson. Could we see “Playoff Joe” all year? That’d be something.
Cincinnati Bengals – This Roster Is Underrated
Let’s just pretend for a second that Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis don’t exist. How do you feel about a team with the following: A young and exciting receiving corps, some very talented running backs, a ton of talent on the defensive line, solid linebackers, and a secondary that includes one of the best young corners in the league? I’d say that’s a pretty solid roster.
New York Jets – Sam Darnold Could Pull An Andrew Luck
I don’t know how I feel about this roster in general. But Sam Darnold is something else. This team massively overachieved last season, if Darnold is as good as I think he is, they could be a sneaky 9-10 win team.
Buffalo Bills – With A Talented Young Defense… Can One of the QBs Just Not Suck?
Ok… so this offense is probably not going to be very good. Maybe, just maybe, we see 16 straight weeks of the good Josh Allen? Maybe the defense can make some massive strides? This one is a little tougher.
Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill Isn’t Terrible
I’m not saying he’s elite, but he’s better than an apathetic Jay Cutler. Maybe he finally has that break out year? We haven’t been saying that for the last 4 years have we?
New England Patriots – Have You Been Watching Football For The Last 18 Years?
If not, why are you on this website? How did you get here? I’m sorry you’re reading this.
Indianapolis Colts – This is The Best Roster Andrew Luck Has Ever Had
That’s not saying much. But bear with me, Andrew Luck, who has won 10 and 11 game seasons dragging guys that look like they played on my intramural basketball team along the way, may actually have an offensive line. Anthony Castonzo is back, and the interior line has some nice depth with Ryan Kelly, Matt Slauson, Quenton Nelson, and Braden Smith. TY Hilton is now officially underrated, and Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines are some fun running backs that can line up all over the field. The defense isn’t great, but Malik Hooker, Tarell Basham, and Quincy Wilson could all improve, and I look forward to seeing rookies Tyquan Lewis and Darius Leonard play. Again, this roster doesn’t need to be great. Andrew Luck is so good, they just need to be adequate. Ballard has built an adequate roster, which is impressive considering the dumpster fire he inherited.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The Roster Only Improved
This was already one of the best defenses in the league, then they went and added Taven Bryan. Ronnie Harrison is raw, but he’s a hard hitter who could be a fun guy to watch this year as well. The offensive line could improve, especially with the addition of Andrew Norwell. If Cam Robinson can display improvement, this offense could be rolling.
Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson Is Due For A Bounce-Back Year
Did you watch Deshaun Watson play last year? Yea, he was awesome. Also, Keke Coutee was added to an already deep receiving corps. JJ Watt is also back, and they just added the dynamic Tyrann Mathieu. The Texans could be this year’s breakout team.
Tennessee Titans – This Roster Is Absurdly Balanced
I have no idea what to think of Tennessee. They have a great offensive line, a solid defensive front, a talented secondary, a quarterback that is at worst decent, and some talented running backs. But… they had all of that last year. They did add some new pieces, but it will all come down to how this new coaching staff operates. This team could look like the 2016 Cowboys if things go right. Corey Davis is bound to improve, and if Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry aren’t enough to get you excited, their UDFA running back Akrum Wadley could make some noise this year. I hope they reach their potential; we deserve to see more good football.
Photo Credit – https://ftw.usatoday.com/2018/02/nick-foles-reaction-super-bowl-lii-win-mvp-failure-comments-eagles-patriots-nfl