J-Ross: I Found “That Team” In The NFL This Year
With the start of the NFL season here, it gives every team hope.
Hope and 2020 don’t seem to go hand in hand, but every new beginning brings opportunity.
This year in the NFL should be no different. Over the last 5 seasons their has been at least one team per year that has made the playoffs after winning 6 or less games the previous season.
Last season we experienced three of these occasions. In 2018 the Bills were (6-10) but last year made the playoffs with an impressive (10-6) mark. Two years ago the Green Bay Packers went a disappointing (6-9-1) only to follow it up with a #2 seed in the NFC after going (13-3). The largest turn around came with the San Francisco 49ers when they went from (4-12) to (13-3) in just one season. It happens and it happens a lot. Over the last five seasons teams like the Rams, Cowboys, Giants, Panthers, Ravens, Texans, Colts and Jaguars have all done it.
So who will it be in 2020?
First you have to evaluate the teams eligible for this. Again, you have to acknowledge those that won 6 games or less last season. On that list you have, Arizona, Detroit, New York Giants, Washington, Carolina, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami and Jacksonville. Looking at this list I see a couple of strong candidates. I think the Arizona Cardinals have a strong chance of bouncing back in year two with Kyler Murray and Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury.
The Cleveland Browns had all sorts of hype last year based on an upgrade of talent. That talent is still there, the pressure is not, so look for Cleveland to be a strong candidate for “that team” this year.
The team I have set my eyes on this year to be “that team” is… the Detroit Lions.
WHAT? Yes, the Detroit Lions.
Detroit won just three games last year. The (3-12-1) record is a bit misleading but can’t be ignored. They were bad. They were (3-3-1) before losing their final 9 games. In those nine games, they played 8 of them without Matthew Stafford. They competed, they lost close games but they did lose.
I like the combination of the same quarterback and head coach returning for another year when pre-season games aren’t being played. I do have a question with Matt Patricia and his defense over his first two years in Detroit. This was supposed to be his calling card. This is why he was hired for what he did in New England. The draft day decision to take Jeff Okudah 3rd overall should boost the secondary a ton. If that defense can get on track to go with a healthy Matthew Stafford then this could be “that team.”
The subtle addition of Adrian Peterson will help in a backfield that has some weapons. DeAndre Swift and Kerryon Johnson with AP should be enough to keep the ground game a factor. The passing game will be strong. The wideout trio of Golloday, Jones Jr. and Amendola along with Tight End T.J. Hockenson will pose problems for a lot of teams.
The division has good teams but I am not sure they have great teams. It will be a challenge to get ahead of Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay but all three of those teams do have flaws. Minnesota has been the most consistent over the last five seasons but both Green Bay and Chicago have had years were they showed dramatic slippage.
2020 has proven to be a mystery year and without a pre-season and a true baseline to judge, I think we can expect the un-expected. That is why I am calling the Detroit Lions as this seasons “that team.” I see a surprising year, an NFC North title and a trip to the playoffs.
I will stop there, but that still would be a huge year for Lions fans.