NFL Predictions for Playoff Teams from Last Season
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 8/4/2011
On average, five NFL teams that reached the playoffs one season end up missing the postseason the following year. The reverse of that is that the NFL Playoffs will usually feature five teams who were not postseason-bound the year before.
With only 12 total playoff spots, that equates to plenty of turnover. So, which five playoff teams from January will have their seasons end on Week 17 and who will be the five new playoff newcomers? Here are my NFL predictions on the subject:
San Diego Chargers
It’s still hard to believe that the Chargers did not make the playoffs last season. Even though the Chiefs are the defending AFC West champs, the division remains San Diego’s to lose. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson will be available starting Week 1 this season and the addition of Takeo Spikes will bolster an already strong defense.
Every year it’s supposed to be the year the Texans finally break through. If it doesn’t happen this year, Houston may never reach the playoffs. Bringing Wade Phillips aboard as defensive coordinator may be the best coaching hire of the offseason. Snagging cornerback Johnathan Joseph is absolutely huge, especially when you play in the AFC South. Houston will have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, and thanks to Phillips and Joseph, they’ll have a defense that can let them hang in games.
New York Giants
The Giants were probably the best team not to make the playoffs last season. They were just never the same team after the Miracle at the Meadowlands II. But it is a new season and the Giants have the firepower to contend with the Eagles in the NFC East. First-round draft pick Prince Amukamara will have an immediate impact, as will the arrival of defensive tackle Gabe Watson from Arizona. Resigning Ahmad Bradshaw was huge, and even if Osi Umenyiora ends up elsewhere the Giants are still a legit playoff contender.
The spotlight is shining on the Philadelphia Eagles for once, and that bodes well for Dallas. The less attention around the team, the better it is. The failed partnership between Terrell Owens and Roy Williams is over, and Tony Romo’s new weapons are Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Jason Garrett takes the reins of the team for good from Wade Phillips and Rob Ryan comes over to improve a defense that ranked 23rd in the NFL last season. Marion Barber has been replaced by rookie DeMarco Murray and ninth-overall draft pick Tyron Smith could bolster the offensive line almost immediately.
Well, someone has to win the NFC West, and the Seahawks are doing their best job to disqualify themselves as contenders. The Cardinals finished last in the NFC West last season at 5-11, but if you think about it that was only two games out of first place. Ken Whisenhunt is too good of a coach not to take advantage of an awful division. The Kevin Kolb trade was expensive, but needed. Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald can be a dynamic duo. Arizona remained busy after the blockbuster trade, bringing in tight end Todd Heap, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey and linemen Daryn Colledge and Floyd Womack. First-round draft pick Patrick Peterson and newcomer Richard Marshall will have people not missing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie one bit.
This one is just obvious. First of all 7-9 will not win the NFC West like it did last season. However, regardless of that fact, the Seahawks will not even approach seven wins. Someone in the Seattle front office was so infatuated with Tarvaris Jackson (24 career touchdowns, 32 career turnovers) that they jettisoned playoff proven quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and handed Jackson the keys to Qwest Field. They signed kicker Jeff Reed, who is well past his prime, and now on his third team in two seasons.
Kansas City Chiefs
Roster-wise the Kansas City Chiefs were not the most talented team in the AFC West last season, but they took advantage of San Diego’s down year and won the division and reached the playoffs. Good for them. They took advantage of the opportunity but that opportunity will not be there again this season, especially with the loss of veteran leadership from Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters. After Dwayne Bowe the receiving corps is still suspect, and the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs schedule is tougher this season.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz has gone on the record to say how he thinks the Bears will be a better team this year. He is in the minority. The loss of tight end Greg Olsen has been overlooked, but that will hurt the Bears in the immediate future. There has been plenty of discussion inside and outside the locker room about the loss of center Olin Kreutz. The Kreutz loss hurts the offensive line and the overall chemistry of the team. This is Green Bay’s division to lose now, and the Bears, with their atrocious offense, will have a hard time trying to return to the postseason.
The Falcons won 13 games last season yet they were blown out in their only playoff game. They added Julio Jones in the draft, but they had plenty of other concerns that were not addressed. We know Matt Ryan can pass for big numbers, but so can opposing quarterbacks. The Falcons pass defense ranked 22nd last season. They bring in defensive end Ray Edwards, but the beleaguered secondary could use some help. The loss of guard Harvey Dahl will be felt, as no clear replacement has stepped up on the offensive line. The Saints could return to power in the NFC South at the Falcons expense.
On paper this makes no sense. The Steelers have the core of their team back that made a run to the Super Bowl. Their losses were limited to aging veterans who did not contribute much last season. But this prediction is all about the offseason. The Steelers are notorious for awful Super Bowl hangovers. They missed the playoffs after their two most recent Super Bowl appearances (and they won those Super Bowls). Throw in offseason issues concerning Hines Ward, Rashard Mendenhall and James Harrison, and the pursuit of Plaxico Burress that came up empty, and you have a recipe for a hugely disappointing 2011-12 season.
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