At this point in the season, we have a pretty good amount of tape on everybody. We know what NFL teams are good at and how to attack them. Everyone has lost — we know their weaknesses and how to exploit them. Obviously some teams have bigger issues than others, but all of them have something.
Here is each NFL team’s most glaring flaw.
Los Angeles Chargers: Offensive line
Almost across the board, the Chargers’ line has struggled. When it comes to run blocking, it ranks 29th in adjusted line yards. Despite a good running back in Melvin Gordon, the Chargers get stuffed 28 percent of the time — the second-worst in the league. In pass protection, they rate well in sack metrics, but that’s mainly because quarterback Philip Rivers gets the ball out quickly. However, their 33.8 percent pressure rate is 24th, per Football Outsiders. To make it even worse, right tackle Joe Barksdale missed the last game and may not play on Sunday against New England.
Los Angeles Rams: No. 1 receiver
The Rams don’t have a bad receiving corps, but they don’t have a No. 1 receiver. Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods are all very capable, but none of them commands attention from defenses. Perhaps Los Angeles thought Watkins could be that player when it traded for him. But he’s been the worst of the three, only going for over 100 yards once. A true star wideout would turn this offense into one of the best in the league.
Tennessee Titans: Cornerback
The Titans made big investments at corner this offseason, bringing in Logan Ryan during free agency and spending a first-round pick on Adoree’ Jackson. Ryan hasn’t been terrible by any means, but at 7.1 yards per pass, according to Football Outsiders, he’s far from the star the Titans paid for. As for Jackson, the rookie has been a work in progress. He has a 59.8 PFF grade and tackling has been a real issue. Tennessee is 24th in pass defense DVOA, a number that needs to get better if they are to keep pace in the AFC South.
San Francisco 49ers: Quarterback
Brian Hoyer wasn’t the answer, so the Niners turned to C.J. Beathard. In his first start last week, San Francisco was unable to move the ball downfield and scored just 10 points at home against a bad Dallas Cowboys pass defense. Given that the 49ers are expected by many to sign Kirk Cousins during the offseason, this may not be a long-lasting problem. However, the quarterback position is derailing their 2017 campaign.
Chicago Bears: Quarterback
The Bears managed to win last week despite quarterback Mitch Trubisky throwing just seven passes. That is not a sustainable model. Even after benching Mike Glennon so Trubisky could take over, the Bears don’t seem to have any confidence in the rookie. It seems like almost every throw is a designed rollout — head coach John Fox doesn’t want Trubisky in the pocket, which is a little alarming for the second overall pick in the draft. It was always going to be a developmental year for Trubisky, but we’d like to see the Bears be a little more liberal in terms of using him.
Cincinnati Bengals: Red zone offense
The Bengals are scoring just 4.18 points per red zone trip, which ranks 28th in football. Despite changing offensive coordinators several weeks ago, this hasn’t gotten much better (as we predicted). They’re also 26th in red zone offense DVOA, per Football Outsiders, with bad splits in both passing and rushing. If Cincinnati has any chance to turn things around after a 2-4 start, this is the thing that needs to change.
Buffalo Bills: Wide receiver
Buffalo’s leading receiver is tight end Charles Clay, who has played just five games and is currently out with a meniscus tear. He has 258 receiving yards. Second place is running back LeSean McCoy, with 220 receiving yards. Then third place — finally — is an actual wide receiver. Jordan Matthews has tallied just 172 receiving yards. Behind him is the backup tight end, Nick O’Leary. It’s fair to say that this is a problem, and a big one.
Denver Broncos: Right tackle
Menelik Watson, Denver’s starting right tackle, has just been terrible. Watson has a 38.7 PFF grade on the year. It seems like every time you flip to Denver, he’s giving up a sack. From Khalil Mack to Jason Pierre-Paul, every defensive end who goes up against Watson posts multi-sack games. It’s almost uncanny. Watson might get quarterback Trevor Siemian sidelined before the season is over.
Cleveland Browns: Quarterback
For the 18th year in a row, the Browns have a quarterback problem. Rookie DeShone Kizer struggled, so he was benched for backup Kevin Hogan. Hogan predictably, struggled, so he was demoted to third string and Kizer was given back the job. Then Kizer threw two interceptions in 20 pass attempts against the Titans and was benched for Cody Kessler. Now, it’s Kizer’s job again because Kessler was bad as well. Not only is everyone playing badly, but head coach Hue Jackson — heralded as a quarterback guru — seems to have no faith in any of them, despite the fact that he was involved in scouting and drafting them. This cycle of misery may never end.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Run game
Lost in all the Jameis Winston questions is the fact that Tampa’s run game has been completely abhorrent. Jacquizz Rodgers and Doug Martin, the only two backs with over 15 carries, are averaging 3.6 and 3.7 yards per carry. The Bucs rank 30th in total rushing yards and 20th in rushing DVOA. Some blame can be placed on a young offensive line that has yet to develop. However, Doug Martin hasn’t looked like a consistently effective football player since 2015. As for Rodgers, the end of last season was the first good stretch he’s had in the NFL (ever), and it’s starting to look like a fluke.
Arizona Cardinals: Quarterback
In the wake of Carson Palmer’s broken arm and subsequent trip to IR, this is a very easy choice. The prospect of Drew Stanton getting that much time at quarterback is a likely death blow to Arizona. When Stanton started eight games in 2014 — on a team whose defense was among the best in the league that was undefeated until Palmer went down — the offense ceased to be effective in any way. Now, it’s three years later, the Cardinals are nowhere near the same team, and Stanton is 33 years old. It is not going to be easy for Arizona to win games.
Kansas City Chiefs: Interior offensive line
This has largely been an injury issue, as Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has been out since Week 5 and Mitch Morse since Week 3. But if you’re looking for a place to attack the Chiefs, this is it. Zach Fulton has struggled since sliding over to center. Cam Erving and Bryan Witzmann have been complete disasters at guard, with 35.4 and 46.6 PFF grades. If you can disrupt Kansas City on the inside, you can slow down their offense.
Indianapolis Colts: Offensive line
T.Y. Hilton blamed the offensive line for last Sunday’s loss and — though it looks terrible to say it in public — he wasn’t wrong in the slightest. The Colts are 27th in adjusted line yards and 28th in stuff rate. They rank dead last in adjusted sack rate and pressure rate, per Football Outsiders. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is the only starter with a PFF grade above 65. This unit is a complete and utter disaster. It’s far from the only struggling positional unit on the 2-5 Colts, but it’s the worst by far, too.
Dallas Cowboys: Run defense
The Cowboys’ pass rush has crushed expectations, thanks largely to Demarcus Lawrence. Their run defense, however, has been as bad as anyone could have expected. Dallas ranks 31st in run defense DVOA. Impossibly, not only are they last in power success, but they have not once stopped a team on third or fourth down with two or less yards to go from running for a first down. The Cowboys are 28th in adjusted line yards on defense and 31st in second-level yardage. They have no chance to catch the Eagles in the NFC East if their run defense stays this terrible.
Miami Dolphins: Quarterback
If you thought the Dolphins’ passing game might get better with Matt Moore under center in the wake of Jay Cutler’s injury, Thursday night didn’t provide the most encouraging signs. Miami was shut out by Baltimore, dominated in every fashion. Moore threw for just 176 yards on 44 attempts. If you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s 4.0 yards per attempt. The cherry on top: two interceptions. Looks like the Dolphins may have to wait for next year — and the return of Ryan Tannehill — before they have a capable quarterback.
Philadelphia Eagles: Left tackle
After Jason Peters went down for the year with a torn ACL and MCL on Monday night, this is an easy call. The backup, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, is a complete disaster. He has a 46.1 PFF grade in 188 snaps this year and had perhaps the worst game of any lineman in 2016 against the Redskins. Now, Philadelphia has to start him at the most important offensive position outside of quarterback. Carson Wentz best watch his back. Literally.
Atlanta Falcons: Offensive coordinator
Steve Sarkisian hasn’t just been a step down from Kyle Shanahan, he’s been a complete disaster. Running a jet sweep from the goal-line on fourth down last Sunday was one of the worst playcalls this side of Super Bowl XLIX. But it goes beyond even that. Sarkisian has taken out all of the stuff Shanahan did that made the offense so good. They don’t root out matchups anymore. There’s less pre-snap motion to do that. Matt Ryan isn’t playing as well because the scheme isn’t as good. The playcalling is just the cherry on top.
New York Giants: Head coach
Ben McAdoo has been a complete and utter disaster. The offense is predictable and anemic. The run game is nonexistent. And McAdoo has done next to nothing about it. The biggest red flag in the world of football is when an offensive coach wins games because his defense is really good. That’s what happened with the Giants last season and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback
Replace Blake Bortles with a merely average quarterback and the Jaguars are instant Super Bowl contenders. Any time Jacksonville is down by more than a touchdown and has to throw the ball, the game is practically over unless they get a pick-six. There’s just no chance that Bortles can engineer a drive. He has no pocket presence, no accuracy, no anything except a penchant to turn the ball over.That the Jaguars are managing to win games at all with Bortles under center is a testament to how amazing the other 21 starters are.
New York Jets: Quarterback
Josh McCown hasn’t been as bad as a lot of people expected, but he’s still Josh McCown. The 38-year old passer ranks 29th at his position in DYAR and 28th in DVOA. He’s thrown seven interceptions in as many games and is averaging just 5.41 adjusted net yards per attempt. Even the best version of Josh McCown is pretty far from a good starting quarterback.
Detroit Lions: Linebacker
Detroit has really struggled to find consistency out of the linebacker position this season. Rookie Jarrad Davis has shown flashes, but his PFF grade still clocks in at a middling 69.8. Tahir Whitehead has played better than most people — this scribe included — expected, but there’s been no supplement to him, especially when Davis has been out. Jalen Reeves-Maybin has been atrocious in limited snaps. Paul Worrilow has been in and out with injuries and struggling when healthy. The Lions just don’t have a third linebacker.
Green Bay Packers: Quarterback
It feels so strange to say that the Packers have a quarterback problem, but it’s pretty obvious that Brett Hundley is having some growing pains. Hundley completed less than half of his passes in his first start last week. Since Aaron Rodgers went down, the UCLA product has thrown four interceptions and just one touchdown. He’s also averaging a miserable 0.88 adjusted net yards per attempt. Green Bay still has a chance to make a run in the cluttered NFC North, where nobody but the Lions has a quarterback, but not unless Hundley makes some improvements.
Carolina Panthers: Receiving depth
The good news for Carolina is that Curtis Samuel was finally involved in a consequential play last Sunday. The bad news is the play itself: he dropped a lateral, which the Bears returned for a touchdown. Outside of Kelvin Benjamin, no Carolina receiver has really made an impact this season. Samuel has just five receptions and will clearly take some time to get adjusted to the NFL game. Devin Funchess has gotten targets, but he’s played like a slightly below-average No. 2 wideout. Running back Christian McCaffrey has picked up some of the slack, but his lack of impact in the run game has negated the good he’s done in the passing game. The Panthers miss Greg Olsen right now in a bad way.
New England Patriots: Linebacker
With the news coming down Thursday that Dont’a Hightower is out for the season, the Patriots are screwed at linebacker. Kyle Van Noy has reverted back to being Kyle Van Noy after an impressive 2016. David Harris — who many thought could make an impact as a classic Belichickian signing — has played all of 26 snaps. Elandon Roberts is dealing with an ankle injury. Even after a nice win last week, the Patriots are in crisis mode at linebacker. If they can’t make a trade and find somebody capable of at least being a poor man’s Hightower, the defense is going to keep struggling.
Oakland Raiders: Secondary
Oakland’s secondary was an issue last year and it’s gotten worse. When Sean Smith struggled in 2016, David Amerson stepped up and had a strong year. But this season, Amerson has been one of the worst cornerbacks in football with an atrocious 44 percent success rate, per Football Outsiders. Smith, on the other hand, is giving up 13.5 yards per pass — just 0.2 less than Amerson, per FO. T.J. Carrie isn’t a liability, but he’s far from a star. If Dexter McDonald or Gareon Conley can start playing well enough to siphon more snaps from Amerson and Smith, it would be a boon to the defense.
Baltimore Ravens: Quarterback
The quarterback position was a problem before Thursday night. Now, after Joe Flacco suffered a concussion on a dirty hit from Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso, the position is in crisis mode. We’ve seen Ryan Mallett go under center before and let’s just say it ain’t pretty. Luckily, the Ravens didn’t need much from him in their dominant victory over Miami — he only threw seven passes. However, if Mallett has to start next week at Tennessee, Baltimore will be in a world of trouble.
Washington Redskins: Wide receiver
The Redskins went from having arguably the best receiving corps in the league to having one of the worst. The Terrelle Pryor signing has gone awfully, as Pryor has just 223 passing yards thus far. Josh Doctson was supposed to be more involved this season, but he has just 14 targets and seven receptions. Jamison Crowder and tight end Jordan Reed are still getting catches, but they’re both averaging less than eight yards per reception. Somebody has to step up for the ‘Skins — and fast.
New Orleans Saints: Run defense
The Saints’ secondary has been a pleasant surprise this season. However, their run defense is as bad as ever. New Orleans is 29th in run defense DVOA, allowing an average of 4.75 yards per carry. They’re giving up a 75 percent power success rate and rank 25th in DVOA against third and fourth down runs, per Football Outsiders. If the Saints manage to improve a little in this aspect, however, they could run away with their division.
Seattle Seahawks: Offensive line
The Seahawks have started to figure out some workarounds, but the line itself hasn’t gotten all that much better. Center Justin Britt is still the only player of the five starters with a PFF grade above 50. The Seahawks rank 30th in pressure rate, per Football Outsdiers, along with 25th in adjusted line yards and 29th in stuff rate. Both tackle positions are complete disasters. No doubt Seattle will manage to survive as it has in years past, but the line will ultimately be the reason its season ends, be it in the regular or postseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Consistency in the passing game
It’s hard to find a specific area in which the Steelers are struggling right now. However, the reason they’ve lost two games is pretty obvious: Ben Roethlisberger’s inconsistencies. Roethlisberger has gone from being one of the best quarterbacks in the league on a week-to-week basis to struggling more often, especially on the road. With the Steelers’ next two games both coming away from Heinz Field — albeit against two very beatable teams that play indoors — it’s worth paying attention to whether Roethlisberger can look like himself on the road. If not, there could be trouble for Pittsburgh down the line.
Houston Texans: Special teams
It’s one of the amazing statistical anomalies of our time that the Texans have managed to be so consistently bad at special teams under Bill O’Brien. Since he took over in 2014, they’ve ranked 28th, 32nd, 31st, and — thus far in 2017 — 22nd in special teams DVOA. When ranking well below-average in a category is a marked improvement, there’s an issue. As good as punter Shane Lechler has been historically, it’s probably time to think about moving on given that punting has been the biggest area of concern in each of those years.
Minnesota Vikings: Quarterback
Case Keenum has played above expectation, but we should be careful not to mix that with thinking he’s played well. In his last two games — both wins — Keenum is averaging just 5.17 adjusted yards per attempt. He’s managing the game decently and avoiding interceptions, sure, but Keenum is also incapable of pushing the ball downfield. Once Minnesota starts playing teams whose offense can score on them, the Vikings have no chance of winning with Keenum under center.