The NFL is by far the easiest major sport to go from worst to first in a season (or vice versa). Many teams receive media speculation about a turnaround (like the Browns), but many teams are ready for big years in 2019 that aren’t being talked about. Let’s take a look at the 5 teams who appear most ready to shock the sporting world with a monster 2019 campaign.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs started last season red hot, with Fitz magic in full force and an offense that was firing on all cylinders. However, once the magic wore off, a QB carousel and a disgustingly bad defense caused a collapse. The good news for Tampa Bay, no major offensive weapons are leaving, which means this team will have Mike Evans, OJ Howard, Cameron Brate, Chris Godwin, and DeSean Jackson (providing he doesn’t get cut). Ronald Jones wasn’t really given a fair shake in 2018, nad could be a major weapon moving forward. The Bucs are a good defensive draft haul away from seriously competing in one of the toughest divisions in football.
4. Oakland Raiders
OK hear me out before you dismiss my entire article. The Raiders were miserable last season. This was largely a result of Gruden dismantling the team in an effort to rebuild. The Raiders have a stupid amount of early round draft picks this year and a massive amount of cap space. Derek Carr has shown that he cares about the organization and is going to do everything he can to turn around the fortunes of the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders. If Oakland chooses to trade some of these draft picks, they can get some immediate difference makes that can quickly turn this team around. If they choose to hold on to them, they are bound to hit on some of them. The Raiders need a face lift on both sides of the ball, but with an OK offensive line, solid QB, and criminally underrated TE, Oakland has a chance to make a big jump in the standings with a few good rookies.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Perhaps dealing with more attrition than any team in the league, the Bengals were forced to play many games without starting QB Andy Dalton, star receiver A.J Green, sophomore sensation Joe Mixon, and a large chunk of their defense. Some may remember that the Bengals started this year red hot at 4-1. They will be an afterthought in many fan’s minds heading into 2019 due to their constant mediocrity. However, provided they can stay healthy and draft some defense and given the fact that they will be playing in an AFC North presumably no longer dominated by the Steelers (thanks to the loss of AB and Bell), the Bengals could very well sneak their way into a playoff spot and maybe even a division title.
2. Denver Broncos
I don’t like the trade for Joe Flacco. AT ALL. Despite this, he’s not really a downgrade from Keenum, probably sacrificing a little bit of throwing ability for a bit more clutch and heady play. What is going for Denver is a rookie class that had a huge year and a dangerous defense. 6 of their 10 losses last year were decided by one score, showing that Denver had the ability to compete (including close losses against KC and the Rams). With the jettison of the incopotent Vance Joseph and the signing of defensive mastermind VIc Fangio, this Denver team has the potential to play like their Super Bowl winning squad just a few years ago. A suffocating defense combined with an intelligent quarterback has the potential to do anything. Should be fun seeing them play Kansas City’s high flying offense twice next year.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags had a huge falloff in 2018 compared to 2017. The toxic personalities in the locker room tore the team apart very early in the season, and the putrid QB play sunk the ship even more than anyone could have imagined for this seemingly talented team. However, this defense remains one of the most talented in the league. Should the front office decide to grab Foles or draft either Haskins or Murray, they are instant playoff contenders. If they can grab a few receiving weapons for the new QB, they are Super Bowl contenders. The way a team with as much personality as Jacksonville works is if they win early, the swagger carries them to even greater things than one would imagine they are capable of and if they start out bad the locker room will tear itself apart. We saw each of these in the last two seasons. With a real QB, what we saw in 2017 should repeat itself.