We’ve learned that some NFL teams tank on purpose in an effort to land their preferred quarterback in the draft. There are a few teams that could potentially do just that in 2020.
But we’re focusing on a different group here. Instead of teams that might want to lose, we’re highlighting five NFL teams that will be running as hard as they can to get to the playoffs…only to fall flat on their faces.
These five teams could unintentionally stink it up in 2020.
New England Patriots
We’re about to find out just how much magic Tom Brady really used during his two-decades run as the quarterback of the Pats. Instead of featuring the G.O.A.T. under center in 2020, the New England offense will be led by either Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round pick last year, or veteran backup Brian Hoyer. All signs point to Stidham being the guy, and the Patriots have talked him up this offseason.
Neither option is all that enticing from a fantasy standpoint, though, and these guys could doom the Patriots in real life, too.
We know that Bill Belichick will have his defense playing at a high level. That’s a given. But if the offense sputters along and struggles to put points on the board, the Patriots could go from first to worst in stunning fashion this season.
There is a lot of excitement in Denver about the future of the Broncos. The franchise made it crystal clear this offseason that it views quarterback Drew Lock as the future of the organization. The dedication to bolstering talent around Lock through the draft and free agency showed that in a big way.
But what if Lock suffers a dreaded sophomore slump? That’s something we looked into recently. Bottom line: If he tanks in 2020, so will the Broncos. And with just five NFL starts under his belt, along with a truncated offseason heading into his second year as a pro, Lock could struggle in a big way this coming season.
The Chicago offense appears to be a rudderless ship. Certainly, it is a ship that needs a captain. Mitch Trubisky was so bad last year — and has been since his rookie campaign — that the Bears gave up a fourth-round pick for Nick Foles this offseason. This, despite the fact that other teams got better options at cheaper rates afterward.
Whether it’s Foles or Trubisky under center (we’re going with Foles), the Bears’ roster is a seemingly mismatched ensemble loaded with tight ends and chess pieces we’re not sure Matt Nagy really knows how to use.
The Bears have incredible talent on defense. We saw that last year, even in a frustrating, depressing campaign. But if the offense stays in neutral, Chicago will once again stay mired in mediocrity.
Las Vegas Raiders
It’s easy to get excited about what the Raiders might do in their first season playing in Las Vegas. The past couple of seasons, general manager Mike Mayock has shown his skill as a personnel evaluator and provided Jon Gruden with a roster capable of winning games.
The Raiders landed one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the nation, drafting Henry Ruggs III with the 12th overall pick in April. They also landed two more electric offensive players in Lynn Bowden Jr. and Bryan Edwards. Quarterback Derek Carr has no more excuses. He has to perform like the franchise quarterback he’s being paid to be.
But what if Carr and Gruden continue to butt heads? What if the defense isn’t quite good enough in 2020? The excitement that’s being created in Vegas right now ahead of the season may turn to depression quickly if the coach and quarterback don’t mesh and the offense doesn’t take off like it’s supposed to.
With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, the Falcons feature one of the best quarterback/receiver trios in the NFL today. If Todd Gurley can step into the starting lineup providing the kind of oomph he did during his best days with the Los Angeles Rams, the Atlanta offense could be unstoppable.
Two big issues immediately come to mind, though. First, Gurley has a bad knee. That’s a fact. He’ll have to be managed, and nobody should be surprised if he ends up needing to take games off due to knee issues. The second issue is one of protection: Matt Ryan has been sacked an absurd 90 times in his past 31 games.
The last problem is that we’re not convinced Dan Quinn is a good head coach. Furthermore, he’s never been able to show off his magic as a defensive-minded genius in Atlanta. And this year’s defensive roster looks tepid, at best. Playing in the NFC South, that’s a bad, bad combination.