Within the NFL, the groups that make their means deep into the playoffs are sometimes groups which have gotten wonderful luck. In fact, there are groups that make their very own luck — just like the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs — by overcoming accidents and difficult losses with the intention to win a Tremendous Bowl.
However many groups don’t get better from a catastrophe state of affairs coming to life. The Pittsburgh Steelers, for instance, noticed their offensive ability gamers fall to accidents, which appeared to be their demise on the season. Typically, that catastrophe isn’t even a product of luck. It’s poor teaching, decision-making or participant efficiency (or all of the above). The Los Angeles Chargers noticed their protection regress, which made it not possible for them to make the playoffs in a troublesome NFC West. The Chicago Bears’ offense imploded round Mitchell Trubisky, and Josh Allen seemed completely misplaced on the playoff stage.
It occurs. It might occur to your workforce. So we determined to think about the worst: What might go mistaken? Really although, right here’s what might go mistaken (excluding the plain: an harm to every workforce’s QB1).
Buffalo Payments: What if Josh Allen’s completion proportion stands nonetheless?
Earlier than the Patriots signed quarterback Cam Newton, Josh Allen appeared to be the one factor standing in the best way of Buffalo overtaking New England. Now, it’s in all probability a bit extra difficult. If Newton returns to type, then Allen can have a fair smaller margin for error. Up to now, Allen’s completion proportion jumped from 52.8% in 2018 to 58.8% in 2019. That was a product of proscribing his decision-making as a product of play-calling. If the Payments unleash Allen, will he step up? Or will he regress?
Miami Dolphins: What if the offseason additions are busts?
The Dolphins made a serious push for expertise this offseason. They drafted three gamers within the third spherical whereas giving large cash to cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson. Due to that large inflow of expertise on what seemed to be a well-coached workforce — Brian Flores appeared to be sensational with an terrible workforce final yr — Miami is able to being fairly good.
Until that expertise doesn’t pan out.
If Tua Tagovailoa isn’t the quarterback of the longer term, their franchise will stall out and skid. If Austin Jackson isn’t a future beginning deal with, it’ll delay Tagovailoa’s growth. If Jones isn’t spectacular, they’ll be in large hassle. If Van Noy’s success was a product for the Patriots system, that’ll be tough for Miami.
This offseason must be a actually good one.
New England Patriots: What if Julian Edelman will get zero assist at receiver?
Julian Edelman was the one choice at wideout through the 2019 season, and it made the Patriots’ passing offense so one dimensional that they completely imploded, with a loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 17 after which a wild-card loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Patriots hoped somebody would step up: Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry or Jakobi Meyers. Nobody did. The Patriots added tight finish Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, who might assist out of their rookie seasons. But when New England’s quarterback goes to succeed, he’ll need assistance from Harry or one other one of many Patriots receivers.
New York Jets: What if Adam Gase continues to be … Adam Gase?
The coach’s inventory has taken a tumble. As soon as thought-about a superb offensive thoughts, Gase might proceed to show he’s unable to steer a franchise — and may’t get quarterback Sam Darnold to take the subsequent step.
Baltimore Ravens: What if defensive coordinators work out Lamar Jackson?
Jackson was the MVP for a motive: he’s electrical and seemingly unstoppable. The offense is constructed completely round him, and solely he can run it. However in principle, somebody might work out the best way to cease him — and, in flip, Baltimore’s offense. I suppose it’s potential, proper?
Contemplating his deadly mixture as a passer and runner, he would be the hardest riddle to resolve in your complete AFC. However possibly somebody like Invoice Belichick, whose protection has gotten youthful and sooner, has certainly spent hours — and even perhaps draft picks — to plan a plan in opposition to Jackson.
Cincinnati Bengals: What if OT Jonah Williams finally ends up being a bust?
The left deal with spent all of his 2019 season on injured reserve after the workforce drafted him with the eleventh total choose. The Bengals haven’t actually gotten a have a look at him, however they appear dedicated to utilizing him because the beginning left deal with to guard Joe Burrow’s blindside in 2020.
What might go mistaken? (Whispers: It’s the Bengals, so … all the things.)
Cleveland Browns: What if Kevin Stefanski fails to save lots of Baker Mayfield?
There was real optimism about Mayfield on the finish of his rookie season. After which 2019 occurred. He was a multitude. Freddie Kitchens’ supposed offensive genius was, to a point, defrauded. And Mayfield’s breakout season by no means got here collectively, not even with Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
It might be devastating for Cleveland if, but once more, a promising quarterback prospect fails to develop right into a franchise quarterback.
Pittsburgh Steelers: What if JuJu Smith-Schuster is not more than a WR2?
Smith-Schuster was unable to step up with out Antonio Brown within the constructing. Smith-Schuster had a horrible season. There’s room to argue that the receiver’s lack of success was a product of Ben Roethlisberger’s harm. There’s additionally room to argue Smith-Schuster merely wasn’t adequate to beat the NFL’s prime cornerbacks. However with Roethlisberger returning, his prime receiver wants to start out taking part in like a prime receiver — or else this offense is in large hassle.
Houston Texans: What if Invoice O’Brien fails to switch Deandre Hopkins?
Invoice O’Brien has been a reasonably succesful coach regardless of his questionable maneuvering in recent times. However his atrocious loss to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs within the playoffs may need been a low level for the coach. He invited deeper skepticism by parting methods with Hopkins, who’s prone to tear it up in Arizona of their air raid offense. If the Texans’ offense is a multitude with a gaggle of brittle receivers (Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills), O’Brien goes to look unhealthy.
Indianapolis Colts: What if the secondary’s potential falls flat?
There’s no scarcity of pleasure surrounding the Colts’ front-seven, which incorporates DeForest Buckner after a commerce with the San Francisco 49ers. However the secondary? There’s much less buzz.
Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie arrived in free company from Minnesota and Cleveland, respectively, the place they every posted a tough season in 2019. After which there’s Rock Ya-Sin, whose identify is improbable however play was simply common in his rookie season as a nickel again.
Jacksonville Jaguars: What if nobody ever desires to play for the Jaguars?
Jalen Ramsey needed out. Yannick Ngakoue and Leonard Fournette adopted go well with. Will the Jaguars ever be capable of inventive optimistic relationships with their top-end expertise? Maybe Gardner Minshew, completely lovable, will assist Jacksonville flip into a greater taking part in atmosphere. However maybe not.
Tennessee Titans: What if Ryan Tannehill stinks?
He might return to being unhealthy. He had a sensational run to complete out the season after the Titans benched Marcus Mariota. However we’ve seen runs like that earlier than. Nick Foles, for instance, seemed actually good for one season — after which all of it fell aside. It’s so darn straightforward to think about the identical factor occurring to Tannehill, who can’t probably sustain what he’s been doing for Tennessee. And if he regresses, the Titans might remorse his mega contract (4-years, $118 million).
Denver Broncos: What if the younger offensive ability gamers look too younger?
It’s one factor to be younger and filled with potential and it’s one other factor completely to win soccer video games with that youthful expertise. Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler seem to be the sort of unit that might have the Broncos scoring large level totals within the years to come back. However this yr, what if they simply aren’t prepared?
Kansas Metropolis Chiefs: What if the season will get cancelled?
I don’t see the rest stopping the Chiefs. Do you?
Las Vegas Raiders: What if Jon Gruden is the issue?
I imply, he reportedly pretended to have COVID to play thoughts video games along with his gamers. Perhaps Gruden isn’t the big-brained coach that he’s cracked as much as be. And possibly he’s not going to get probably the most out of a gifted forged the GM Mike Mayock has assembled.
Los Angeles Chargers: What if Justin Herbert cannot win the beginning job?
As stable as Tyrod Taylor might be, this yr figures to be a rebuilding interval for the Chargers. Nearly as good as their protection is on paper, they couldn’t carry out at a excessive sufficient degree to recover from .500 final season. So it will take an amazing resurgence for the protection to be adequate to hold Taylor after failing to assist out Rivers. So when the inevitable occurs and the Chargers lose a bunch of video games, they need to flip to Herbert to make sure he will get the mandatory taking part in time to assist his growth for 2021.
Dallas Cowboys: What if Mike McCarthy is similar man as Jason Garrett?
Our personal Steven Ruiz made a convincing case that the Cowboys modified coaches however didn’t really make an enormous change by hiring McCarthy. Dallas might discover that they’ve employed a Jason Garrett clone.
New York Giants: What if Joe Decide is simply one other failed coach from Belichick’s tree?
It’s a bit of alarming how shortly New York media members have turned on Decide for his questionable observe methods and his unusual proclivity to keep away from each participant by identify. It’s quite a bit like how the Detroit media turned on Matt Patricia for his Belichickian methods.
If Decide will get caught within the pitfalls of being like Belichick (whereas additionally failing to win video games), then he may comply with the trail of different Hoodie disciples, which might imply one other tough season for the Giants.
Philadelphia Eagles: What if their revamped secondary continues to be unhealthy?
The Eagles received a serious improve to their secondary once they traded for Darius Slay. In addition they signed Nickell Robey-Coleman for the slot whereas inserting Avonte Maddox again on the sphere as CB2. Nearly as good as Slay is, he doesn’t clear up all Philly’s secondary points. Maddox and Robey-Coleman must play nicely, and there must be a wholesome dose of skepticism in terms of their capabilities.
Washington Soccer Crew: What if their possession group by no means adjustments?
Severely, the Snyder household has carried out sufficient to make this workforce as problematic on the soccer subject (they haven’t received a playoff sport since 2005) as they’re off it (their identify was the Redskins). It appears that evidently, as long as Dan Snyder owns and operates this soccer workforce, Washington will proceed to underperform.
Chicago Bears: What if Cam Newton and Jameis Winston have sensible seasons?
With a gentle quarterback market in free company, the Bears elected to commerce a fourth-round draft alternative for Nick Foles, who’s taking part in on a three-year, $24 million deal. It’s wasn’t the worst commerce of the offseason — nevertheless it was fairly unhealthy. Newton, Winston and Andy Dalton — all arguably comparable or higher gamers than Foles — signed contracts well worth the veteran minimal. Newton’s deal will get him extra money with incentives.
It’s straightforward to think about that with Mitchell Trubisky and Foles at quarterback, Chicago might be filled with FOMO whereas watching Newton, Winston and/or Dalton this season.
Detroit Lions: What if Jeff Okudah cannot fill Darius Slay’s function?
Maybe the Lions are underrating simply how exhausting it’s to discover a shutdown cornerback within the NFL. They appear completely happy changing Slay, who went to the Eagles after turning right into a locker room most cancers, with Okudah, a standout at Ohio State and the No. 3 total choose within the 2020 draft. However good protection is essential — it’s a very powerful a part of having NFL protection. So if Okudah can’t deal with the job, the Lions are in hassle.
Inexperienced Bay Packers: What if Aaron Rodgers holds a grudge over the Jordan Love choose?
If the Packers offense can’t assist Rodgers, he has each motive to be annoyed with Inexperienced Bay over choosing Love — and never a receiver — within the first spherical of the 2020 draft. Positive, selecting Love is in the perfect curiosity of the franchise for years to come back. However Rodgers is attempting to win Tremendous Bowls now. It might be ugly if Rodgers holds a grudge.
Minnesota Vikings: What if Justin Jefferson is not really a pro-ready prospect?
Jefferson appeared to be the proper prospect for the Vikings. After buying and selling away Diggs, Minnesota wanted somebody to assist the offense. Goodness is aware of that Kirk Cousins isn’t going to raise the play of his teammates. He’ll want them to raise his play. So a pro-ready prospect like Jefferson was excellent. He’s speedy and may excel within the slot, very similar to Diggs. It’s the proper match on paper. If it falls aside on the sphere, the Vikings are in hassle, as a result of Adam Thielen is probably not prepared for elevated defensive consideration. After which Cousins shall be out of choices.
Atlanta Falcons: What if their offseason acquisitions aren’t sufficient?
The Falcons didn’t have a lot room to spend, however they put collectively a decent group of additives: TE Hayden Hurst, RB Todd Gurley, DE Dante Fowler and LB Deonne Buchannon. However they’re within the NFC South, the place the Saints and the Buccaneers appear much better. If these acquisitions weren’t sufficient, the workforce might shortly fall behind within the standings, which can certainly outcome within the firing of Dan Quinn.
Carolina Panthers: What if Matt Rhule is not prepared for the NFL?
Rhule is one more flashy offensive guru, who appeases the lots. He’s a simple promote to followers. It’s fashionable proper now to nab a school coach whose unfold system is unguardable. That received Kliff Kingsbury, who received fired simply weeks earlier than the Arizona Cardinals, a head teaching job.
However this development has to wear down, proper? What if Rhule turns into the coach that reveals NFL GMs and homeowners are attending to set off completely happy by bringing on this younger, spread-happy coaches?
New Orleans Saints: What if Drew Brees reveals apparent indicators of decline?
The Saints offense did what it might to assist Brees look youthful than 40 years previous. However he turned 41, and he might proceed to point out indicators of age. New Orleans added Emmanuel Sanders, who is definitely a stellar addition to assist Brees assault the intermediate ranges of the sphere. However what if that’s not sufficient? What if Brees is … previous?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What if Tom Brady can be declining?
The Patriots offense was a multitude on the finish of 2019. The truth that Brady, a famously sound resolution maker, threw a pick-six to finish his Patriots profession is emblematic of how unhealthy issues had been offensively. The Buccaneers have so many weapons to fight Brady’s indicators of age.
However once more: what if it’s not sufficient?
Arizona Cardinals: What if Kliff Kingsbury cannot do protection?
There’s little question his offensive shall be sensational. However protection is fairly essential, too. There appears to be sufficient expertise for the Cardinals to be aggressive in 2020, but when Kingsbury doesn’t get his protection well-prepared, he’s not profitable video games in opposition to the Seahawks and the 49ers.
Los Angeles Rams: What if Sean McVay cannot adapt?
Earlier than Tremendous Bowl LIII, Sean McVay was the prince of the NFL. Now there’s some query as as to whether he may need been one thing of a one-hit marvel. He must adapt his offense (and maybe ditch Jared Goff, however that’s an entire totally different problem).
San Francisco 49ers: What if Jimmy Garoppolo would not get any higher?
Garoppolo seemed restricted in his Tremendous Bowl efficiency. He was effective. That’s not often what a quarterback desires to be in his greatest sport of the yr. However there are many quarterbacks who’ve been simply OK of their first large postseason run which have turned out to be stable gamers. (Brady, in fact, involves thoughts. He received his early Tremendous Bowls, however was simply OK throughout these video games.) But it surely was clear: if Garoppolo doesn’t get higher, this workforce received’t win a Tremendous Bowl. So, let’s see it.
Seattle Seahawks: What if the Seahawks really signed Antonio Brown?
Gosh, that’d be silly.