Recently, I talked about 5 teams that are primed to improve in 2020. If 5 new teams are to make the playoffs, 5 must leave the playoff picture. It may sound unlikely that nearly half of all playoff teams won’t make it next year, but it certainly is plausible. 5 teams that made the 2019 playoffs failed to qualify in 2020, and 6 teams that made the 2018 playoffs didn’t make them in 2019. Change is inevitable, so here are 5 teams that made the playoffs in 2020 that are most likely to miss them in 2021.
5. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks were inches away from winning the NFC West, but a tackle by rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw saved the crown for the 49ers. Russell Wilson emerged as a top 3 quarterback and DK Metcalf has lots of potential, but will Seattle be able to contend in the brutal NFC West? The Rams are one year removed from a Super Bowl run, the 49ers just went to the Super Bowl, and Kyler Murray and the Cardinals are on the rise. The Seahawks are a good team, that’s for sure, but they will have to navigate a tough schedule in 2020.
#4: New England Patriots
After starting 2019 8-0, the Patriots went 4-5 in their last 9 games, including a playoff defeat at the hands of Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans. Tom Brady’s future in New England is unsure, and even if he returns, his supporting cast will likely be sub-par. The one reason New England isn’t further down on this list is the fact that Bill Belichick is the head coach. If there’s anybody that can right the ship, it’s him, but for the first time in a while, the Patriots dynasty could finally be over.
#3: Tennessee Titans
The Titans were the most difficult team to place on this list due to the offseason questions that linger. Will they resign Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill, and Logan Ryan? Will Tannehill regress to his Miami form in 2020? Can Tennessee challenge the Texans for AFC South supremacy? Will they finally not finish 9-7? The future is very uncertain for them, as they could finish 7-9 or 12-4. Tennessee has the lowest floor of any team on this list, but also one of the highest ceilings.
#2: Buffalo Bills
The Bills are a prime candidate on this list for many reasons. For starters, they have an inconsistent offense and rely on defense to win games. We all saw how that worked out for the Bears in 2019. Also, their schedule is one of the five hardest for 2020; they have to play the 49ers, Chiefs, and Seahawks, not to mention the 2 divisional games against the Patriots. The road to the playoffs will be tough for Buffalo, but there’s still a chance.
#1: Minnesota Vikings
Personally, ranking the Vikings this high may be wishful thinking, but it is easily justified. The offense will likely regress without offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and Dalvin Cook can’t seem to stay healthy, as he has yet to play a full season. With the exception of two “gimme” games against the Lions, Minnesota has a tough schedule in 2020. It is highly unlikely that they will top the Packers for the NFC North throne, and beating the Bears is never guaranteed, as they have lost their last 4 against Chicago.
All of this would be enough to place the Vikings in the top section of this list, but what really sets them apart is their extreme financial problems. Currently, they have less than $1 million in cap room, and that’s after releasing Everson Griffen, who they expect to resign. GM Rick Spielman will have to get creative to free up more room, but that will be difficult given that Kirk Cousins is due $31 million.