By: Mark Harris
The NFL season is right around the corner, and every team has hope in the future. However, some teams have much more hope than others.
Most teams have an outside chance to win the Super Bowl this year. Of course there are the favorites like New England or Arizona, and then there are the middle tier teams that, if everything breaks their way, one could imagine them holding up the Lombardi trophy.
For example, teams like Atlanta and Houston probably will not win the Super Bowl this season, but Atlanta with quarterback Matt Ryan and Houston with a strong defense, both have a small chance to win it all.
So this list is reserved for the most futile of the NFL. Deep down, fans of these teams know that the best case scenario is just making the playoffs, or in some cases just going 8-8.
1. Cleveland Browns
It’s a new era in Cleveland, the city finally shed the 800 pound gorilla off its back when LeBron James and the Cavaliers ended the city’s championship drought. It’s not just the Cavs, the Indians are one of the contenders in the American League.
But the winning won’t pass on to the Browns. Cleveland probably has the worst quarterback situation in the NFL. It’s not 2012 anymore and Robert Griffin III is not a viable option at quarterback, assuming he stays healthy.
If Griffin doesn’t start then the Browns could turn to Josh McCown, played okay for the Browns last season. Even with RG3 on the roster, many in the Cleveland media think that McCown is the best option at quarterback. Choosing between RG3 and Josh McCown is similar to picking a menu item at McDonald’s, it may feel good in the moment, but you just know it won’t end well.
Cleveland’s defense can’t be relied on either, as it ranked 27th in yards allowed. Along with six games against the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers, the Browns’ outlook doesn’t look good in 2016.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
I doubt the Eagles end up as the worst team in the league, and I could see them competing in the division. In fact, the division could be so weak that the Eagles could actually win it and make it to the playoffs, kind of like the Texans did last season in the AFC East.
When it comes to the Eagles you have to look at their quarterback situation. Number two overall pick Carson Wentz could be good in the future, but he might not even play this season.
Sam Bradford is fine, but does anyone see Mr. Floppy Sleeves leading the Eagles to the championship. Bradford is not the quarterback of the future in Philly, even former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb thought it was “dumb” for the Eagles to give him a multi-year contract.
But it’s okay Eagles fans, if Bradford doesn’t work out he Eagles can turn to career backup Chase Daniel. Or they could just rely on their 30th ranked defense from last year. Or they could just sign turn back time and sign Randall Cunningham in his prime.
3. Los Angeles Rams
Number one overall pick Jared Goff probably will be a decent NFL quarterback, but he won’t be amazing this season.
The jump from college to the NFL is tough for quarterbacks. It should be tougher for Goff since he did not play in a pro style offense in college at Cal, instead he played in the Air Raid offense which is basically the exact opposite. Goff will have to learn to read an NFL defense and snap the ball from under center, not to say he can’t do it but he’ll experience some learning curves.
Furthermore, the Rams offensive pieces are nothing spectacular. Yes, they have Todd Gurley at running back, but the Rams had one of the worst offensive lines last season, and their best wide receiver is… Kenny Britt… Tavon Austin maybe? Plus the Rams lost tight end Jared Cook in free agency.
To be fair the Rams do have some defensive talent with Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, Alec Ogletree and Trumaine Johnson in the secondary. But their defense can be very inconsistent and it can’t carry them all season.
I don’t see the Rams as a bad team, I see them as a limited team with very little room for error on offense, and those teams generally don’t win Super Bowls.
4. San Francisco 49ers
It was not so long ago that the 49ers made it to three straight NFC Championship Games. Now they’re have their third head coach in three years.
Much like the Browns, the 49ers are in a tough spot when it comes to choosing their starting quarterback. Colin Kaepernick’s running ability makes him seem like a logical fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. However, Blaine Gabbert played considerably better when he replaced Kaepernick last year.
With Chip Kelly implementing his offense, the 49ers will at least be more interesting this season. Whether its Gabbert or Kaepernick under center, the 49ers don’t have a ton of offensive talent. Other than a great Monday Night Football performance in week one, running back Carlos Hyde was very underwhelming, so it’s a make-or-break year for him. The offensive line is weak and the receivers aside from Torrey Smith are forgettable.
Kelly’s coaching should reinvigorate the offense but the defense is a different story. In two years the 49ers defense plummeted from fifth overall in 2014 to 29th overall in 2015. The 49ers should hope that their last two first round picks, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, develop quickly so they can complement NaVarro Bowman and turn their defense around.
It isn’t tough to figure out: When Blaine Gabbert is a team’s best option at quarterback, the season won’t go so well. Pair that with a wobbly defense and Chip Kelly’s first season could be tumultuous.
Almost made the list
1. Buffalo Bills: The offense is limited, the defense has some talent. But Rex did take those Jets teams to two straight AFC Title games so I can’t totally count them out.
2. Miami Dolphins: Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Reshad Jones could make the defense viable. Ryan Tannehill is just good enough… but this season is big for him.
3. Chicago Bears: The defense is okay… Jay Cutler is okay… Alshon Jeffery is pretty good. They probably won’t be terrible.