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Mixed Signals: NFL Teams Who are a Quarterback Away From Playoffs

Teams Ready to Contend With Upgrade Under Center

You need at least a decent quarterback to make the playoffs in today’s NFL. Of the 18 teams that failed to make the playoffs last season, a handful can make a run for the postseason in 2023. The NFL betting odds even have many of these teams as sizable underdogs on the outright market. So keep a close eye on them should they solve their quarterback issue.

Let’s check the latest NFL news, stats, injury reports, and NFL picks. We’ve got plenty of NFL lines for the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft Games.

Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers - Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP

A Quarterback Away …

  • Panthers

The Panthers finished the season strong thanks to better coaching and quarterback play from Sam Darnold. Yes, that Sam Darnold. He finished with a 105.4 passer rating in his five starts (not counting his final start, a meaningless game). He threw for seven touchdowns, scored two more on the ground, and committed just three turnovers.

However, Darnold did choke in crucial moments. He turned the ball over three times against Tampa Bay, which eliminated Carolina from playoff contention. Had Darnold been better, Carolina wouldn’t be on this list. Alas, either Darnold delivers when it matters or the team needs to acquire a new quarterback – again.

  • Saints

Andy Dalton #14 of the New Orleans Saints
Andy Dalton #14 of the New Orleans Saints – Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP

The Saints, much like their NFC South rival above, have a top-10 defense but no solid quarterback. Unlike the Panthers, the Saints have not aggressively looked for a better option than Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton. Since Drew Brees retired, the Saints’ offense went from above average to the bottom third of the NFL.

New Orleans also does not have as much time as Carolina. While the Panthers’ defense is mainly composed of young players, the Saints have aging veterans. The team remains a longshot bet online to make the playoffs unless it can improve its most important position.

  • Jets

The Jets’ QB situation makes Carolina and New Orleans look stable in comparison. This team played as many as four different quarterbacks. And what’s funny is that 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, the worst of the quartet, is the only one that had a winning record. Their accumulative passer rating was 75.0, the lowest in the NFL.

New York finished 2022 with the fourth-best defense. The team beat the Bills and Packers and was 7-4 in Week 12. But the Jets lost six straight games and managed just 15 points in its last three games combined. Jets fans watched Super Bowl 57 and thought “that could have been us” if they had a much better quarterback under center.

You Need More Than Just A QB …

  • Colts

After a disastrous season, the Colts need more than a quarterback to even consider making the playoffs. For one, this team ranked below average in almost every metric from offense to special teams. Shane Steichen comes over from the Philadelphia Eagles and will select his coaching staff, but he has his hands full.

Owner Jim Irsay has come out and said the team will finally stop acquiring washed-up quarterbacks. The team can start by selecting one in this coming NFL Draft. But it will be a while before Indianapolis can contend given its status. So avoid betting on the Colts in the sportsbook regardless of how long their odds are.

  • Broncos

What a difference a year makes. Almost one year ago, the Broncos stunned the NFL by making a blockbuster trade for superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. The move made the team a popular pick on NFL predictions as Denver was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. Flash forward to now and Wilson had his worst season in Denver, finishing as one of the six worst teams.

The team then traded for former Saints coach Sean Payton. The Super Bowl champion will indeed bring more structure to a team that quickly imploded last year. But even if Wilson can rejuvenate his play, the Broncos still need a better offensive line. Javonte Williams also needs to stay healthy as a running back. On the bright side, it can’t get worse than last season. Right?

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