Do you remember which teams made it to the NFL playoffs three years ago? While you think it over, let me hit you with some interesting nuggets of information. Of the 14 teams who made it to the postseason three seasons ago, seven did not make it back to the playoffs the following year. The following season the same happened.
Coincidence? No. Trend? Sure why not.
Every offseason teams seek to improve everywhere they can. From drafting key positional prospects to hitting the NFL free-agency market looking for the best bang for their buck, whatever can help them get a head start on their competition is welcome. And while all efforts are appreciated, the reality stands that only the best will make the cut.
With the 2023 season still time away, here are four teams who don’t look like they’ll be making it to the playoffs.
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1. Arizona Cardinals
It’s not an alphabetic coincidence that the Cardinals are first on the list. It’s the fact that they are on the road to being the worst team for the 2023 season. Between having a new head coach and a new GM and their overall conundrum when it comes to various positions within their roster, things are not looking for Arizona.
Who knows if Kyler Murray is going to be ready to go by Week 1? And if he makes it to NFL Week 1, what guarantees that he’ll be able to lead Arizona to a strong season? If you look at the financial numbers in his multi-million-dollar deal, the Cards aren’t stuck between a rock and a hard place. That ship sailed late last season after Murray suffered his torn ACL injury.
If Kyler Murray can’t go Week #1, is Colt McCoy really the best option for the Arizona Cardinals?
— Johnny Venerable (@JohnnyVenerable) May 19, 2023
For 2023, Murray is slated to make $39 million, $38.8 million in 2024, $32.6 million in 2025, $42.5 million in 2026, $36.3 million in 2027, and $46.3 million in 2028, the last year of his deal. Depending on what happens this season, who knows if the Cards are going to want to have Murray continue with the team? The financial hit is coming with or without Murray, so maybe it’d be best to prepare for all scenarios.
With the Cardinals having two first-round picks in 2024’s NFL draft and the possibility of being able to land USC star QB Caleb Williams, maybe sucking the most in 2023 doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For now, unless a miracle happens in the desert, Cards fans shouldn’t be getting their hopes up for 2023.
2. Miami Dolphins
The AFC is stacked. In every division there are at least two teams more than ready to get their postseason football on. Except for the South, that’s Jaguars territory from everywhere you look.
Over in the AFC East, with Aaron Rodgers joining the New York Jets, that divisional battle looks like a two-horse race between the Bills and Jets. So where does that leave the Miami Dolphins? In a season where, even while having a stacked roster, regression feels more like the road ahead.
I like Miami’s growth on offense and defense over the past few years. Last season if Tua Tagovailoa hadn’t gone through such injury perils, who knows, maybe the ‘Fins would have made it far in the postseason. But this season, with Tagovailoa holding Miami’s playoff aspirations in his hands, I can’t see Miami making a true run for the playoffs.
— Miami Dolphins Fans (@DolphinsViews) May 24, 2023
The roster looks ready to take on any challenge, but what happens if Tua goes down again? Second-year backup Skylar Thompson and former Jets backup QB Mike White don’t look like they can step up and lead the team in the way needed.
Miami will play good football. It will get fans rallied up. But when the time comes, don’t be surprised if the Dolphins end up dropping pivotal games down the stretch that makes them miss the playoffs.
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3. Minnesota Vikings
Justin Jefferson is elite, one of the best if not the best wideout in the league. But that won’t be enough for the Minnesota Vikings to make it back to the playoffs. If you look back at Minnesota’s season, 11 of their wins were won by one score. If that doesn’t tell you that this is a team bound for regression, just like the Dolphins in the AFC East, then just wait and watch.
Take Minnesota and break it in half. What do you get? A good defense, with a shaky defense on the other side. With Jefferson and QB Kirk Cousins leading the pack, offensive-minded coach Kevin O’Connell shouldn’t have much of an issue getting points on the board.
“QB is the most important position in our sport and there are many avenues to address it”.. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.. yeah I am officially concerned about the direction of this team beyond 2023.. Kirk Cousins & Justin Jefferson are the only reason why the Vikings didn’t end 5-12 in… pic.twitter.com/zgLzRV0w2l
— Rick Sosa (@sosarick) April 13, 2023
Adding WR Jordan Addison through the draft to partner with Jefferson is a step in the right direction for the team. Tight end T.J. Hockenson should once again come through in the passing game, and until proven otherwise, Dalvin Cook continuing with the team will also be of pivotal importance.
But that defense though? Man, it’s going to be rough out there for the Vikes. If edge rusher Za’Darius Smith leaves, Danielle Hunter will need a pass-rushing partner badly. Minnesota’s secondary will also need some work, with second-year CBs Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr, as well as safety Lewis Cine expected to ball out from the get-go.
Just like Miami, the Vikings will play good football, and run games to tight scores, but if the defense doesn’t step up big time, a consecutive trip to the playoffs might not be in the plans.
4. New York Giants
Do you remember who knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs last season? Yes, the New York Giants. Does that make them a team that could be a contender for a spot in the playoffs this year? No.
The Giants didn’t play amazing football, not even good at times. What they did do is show an overachieving side to their game that nobody knew the team had, mainly because of coach Brian Daboll’s push.
New York’s offense wasn’t anything over the top once you take out Saquon Barkley finally playing enough games in a season to get a taste of what he used to bring before his injuries. Giants QB Daniel Jones will be expected to perform at a higher level than last season after his new contract was average at best. With 15 TDs passes to five INTs, his only saving grace was his running game with 708 yards and seven TDs.
Even after bringing in former Raiders TE Darren Waller, as well as Parris Campbell from the Colts and Jalin Hyatt through the draft, New York doesn’t have a difference-making receiver to compete in the NFC East. If injuries become an issue once again for this offense, that could well be the breaking point.
Having to compete against a Philadelphia Eagles squad looking to go back to the Super Bowl and a Dallas Cowboys team that needs to make it to the playoffs, betting on the Giants to go back to the playoffs is not a good idea.