I did a post like this after Week 8 of the NFL season (NFL Midseason Snapshots) and figured it was only right to do another one at the end of the regular season.
Here is a quick look at all 32 teams and my brief thoughts – snapshots – on how they did, how they’re doing, or how they will do. Also, some unsolicited advice is sprinkled in where I deem necessary.
z – conference winner
y – division winner
x – wild card spot
x – Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
The Cardinals were 7-1 when I told you there was something I didn’t trust about them. Losses to the Seahawks (twice), Bears, and Lions, overshadow their win on the road against the Cowboys. A first round playoff exit is coming.
Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
The NFC South is the Buccaneers’ for as long as Tom Brady is in the league. The Falcons need to find the heir apparent to Matt Ryan and build up their depth in order to be ready to challenge for the division again in 2-3 years, or whenever Brady retires.
Baltimore Ravens (8-9)
Personally, I’m not a fan of going for a two-point conversion to win the game, instead of kicking the extra point and going to overtime. The Ravens did it twice this season and were unsuccessful both times. If they went to overtime, do they win those games? No idea.
y- Buffalo Bills (11-6)
I’m only worried about the Bills because I don’t think they played enough good teams this season. They split the season series with the Patriots, beat the Chiefs on the road, and then lost to the Titans and Buccaneers. Their other opponents did not make the playoffs. I said after Week 8 that I wouldn’t want to play a road game at Buffalo in the winter, but it’s the Patriots who get first crack at it and I will never doubt Bill Belichick.
Carolina Panthers (5-12)
They started out 3-0 and Sam Darnold was leading the league in rushing touchdowns and then it all came crashing down. Just like the Falcons, they need to have a roster ready to win the division when Brady retires.
Chicago Bears (6-11)
Maybe I’m naive, but I feel like if they have the same “lightbulb moment” the Eagles had this year where they realized they should run the ball more, then we could see a 9-8/8-9 Bears team next season. Chicago ran the ball 46.7% of the time this year (8th most in the NFL). Let’s kick that up to about 54% and have a defense that can keep games tight. Lean on the run until Fields develops as a passer and you bring in more wide receivers.
y – Cincinatti Bengals (10-7)
I’m so proud of the Bengals. They won the AFC North and host a playoff game against the Raiders. I said it after Week 8 and I’ll say it again: Joe Burrow will be a perennial MVP candidate.
Cleveland Browns (8-9)
Baker Mayfield suffered a partially torn labrum in Week 2 and played through it, as well as other injuries, all season. I respect that a lot and will admit, he won me over. With one year left on his contract, next season is a big one for him.
y – Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
The Cowboys are like a Ferrari that slows down, just to playfully mock the slower cars, before speeding away into the distance. If you’re a Ferrari, be a Ferrari. Don’t wait until the following week to prove you’re a Ferrari. That being said, I don’t like their matchup against the 49ers in the first round.
Denver Broncos (7-10)
Their offence is a franchise quarterback away from being deadly. Isn’t everyone’s, though? Unless they draft someone who has immediate success like Justin Herbert, the play here might be to try and get Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers, somehow. I would happily settle for Jimmy Garoppolo, or Kirk Cousins if they’re available. It’s inexcusable that Jerry Jeudy only has three touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL.
Detroit Lions (3-13-1)
Dare I be optimistic about the second-worst team in the league? For starters, they never gave up on their coach and fought until the very end. That was cool. They lost three games this season by two points, one game by three points, and also tied one. I know “close” doesn’t count for anything, but they were close to five extra wins and an 8-9 record. I’m just saying.
z – Green Bay Packers (13-4)
The Packers’ competition in the NFC playoffs consists of two dome teams (Cardinals and Cowboys), three warm weather teams (Rams, Buccaneers, and 49ers), and the cold weather Eagles. The road to the Super Bowl goes through Lambeau Field. The Packers have a climate acclimation advantage against all of those teams, except the Eagles, but that’s fine because they are much better than the Eagles. The Packers can’t possibly mess this up, right?
Houston Texans (4-13)
I’m still disappointed they didn’t trade Brandin Cooks to a contender at the trade deadline, unless he didn’t want to be traded.
Indianapolis Colts (9-8)
To quote my midseason post: “They’re staring a 9-8 season right in the face, unless they find a way to beat the Bills, Buccaneers, or Cardinals.” I only needed them to win one of those games to secure a 10-7 record on paper and they went ahead and won two of them! Unfortunately, they lost to the Jaguars on the road and missed the playoffs. Make it make sense.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)
Please hire Byron Leftwich as your next Head Coach. The reasons are too obvious for me to type out.
y – Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
It was a rocky start, but the Chiefs turned it around to win the AFC West. They don’t seem as invincible as they have been in previous years, but they’re not exactly a team you want to face in the playoffs, either.
x – Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)
Even when they were leading the division at 5-2, I didn’t think they’d make the playoffs. But then they go win the final game of the regular season, also known as the greatest football game I’ve ever seen, and sneak in before the door closes.
Los Angeles Chargers (9-8)
I know everyone says, “Same old Chargers”, as they have a star QB and still can’t get anywhere, but I think this will be their final setback before being a fixture in the playoffs for years to come. Justin Herbert is just too good.
y – Los Angeles Rams (12-5)
The Rams went 5-4 in the second half of the season, lost Robert Woods, signed Odell Beckham Jr., lost Darrell Henderson, and got Cam Akers back only six months after he tore his achilles. It feels like they are just trying to hold on, but the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl at home has been slowly slipping away.
Miami Dolphins (9-8)
The Dolphins were the first team in NFL history to have a 7-game winning streak and a 7-game losing streak in the same season. That’s…something? I think if they find a better option at QB, they’ll move on from Tua Tagovailoa.
Minnesota Vikings (8-9)
I said it at the midway mark, their four losses were all by 7 points or less, which put them behind the eight ball with a tough schedule ahead. They went 5-5 against that tough schedule. The Vikings surrendered almost as many points as the last place Jaguars this season, so that needs to change.
x – New England Patriots (10-7)
Where there’s a Bill, there’s a way. What else is there to say? Do you want to face the Patriots in the playoffs? I don’t.
New Orleans Saints (9-8)
They’re in the same position as the Falcons and Panthers in the NFC South. Build now and have your team ready to take over the division as soon as Brady retires.
New York Giants (4-13)
I don’t think they can give up on the arm strength and mobility of Daniel Jones just yet – he’s only 24 – but I guess that’ll be up to the new General Manager to decide.
New York Jets (4-13)
For a 22-year-old rookie QB, Zach Wilson faced a pretty tough gauntlet of opponents. He didn’t throw an interception in his last five games, so I’m going to take that as a big positive going forward. Give him some help and some time. He’ll be good.
x – Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
Oh boy, the Eagles are in. They need to crank the “no one expects us to win” PR messaging to a 14 this week and almost lure the Buccaneers into a false sense of security. Then they need to run the ball, eat the clock, and don’t let Tom Brady on the field. Take the points when they can and sneak one out. The game within the game should’ve started yesterday.
x – Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)
Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL career began when I was in Grade 8. It almost came to an end two days ago, but the Raiders didn’t want to tie the Chargers and send the internet into further pandemonium. I don’t like their chances against the Chiefs, but anything can happen.
x – San Francisco 49ers (10-7)
I really like the 49ers. If you take away their passing game, they’ll still find a dozen ways to get their best players the ball and room to run. And they run hard. All of them – Samuel, Kittle, Aiyuk, Mitchell. Everyone is finally healthy, so look out.
Seattle Seahawks (7-10)
It has been reported that the Seahawks have no plans of trading Russell Wilson in the offseason and Wilson, himself, has said he wants to win more Super Bowls in Seattle. That’s all fine and dandy, but what happens if a team makes them an offer they can’t refuse?
y – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)
I don’t like the vibes around the Buccaneers this year (and that was before the Antonio Brown exit). Kay Adams basically said the same thing this morning on Good Morning Football, so if she’s feeling it too, there must be something to it. I’ll never doubt Tom Brady, but something is off with this team.
z – Tennessee Titans (12-5)
I was wrong. I said the Titans were over-confident in thinking they could play the same style without Derrick Henry. Well, they did play the same style and it earned them the top seed in the AFC. I’m a big fan of Mike Vrabel.
Washington Football Team (7-10)
The Football Team will be getting a new name on February 2. Internet sleuths figured it out because the WFT weren’t exactly careful with blurring out pieces of paper that had the new logo, when showing a video of the coach reacting to it. I won’t say it here, but I like the new name!