Welcome to part 2 of the "A Few Good Mics" NFL preview. Earlier this week I gave you the 3 teams poised to breakout this season, and now I'll give you even more teams that are bound to fall short of their expectations this upcoming season. These predictions are all relative to last year's performances, paired with this year's expectations. As always feel free to share, and comment below your opinions. (Spoiler: Quarterback talk ahead).
1. Denver Broncos
The reigning Super Bowl champs went through a lot this offseason. Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning retired, and they decided not to bring back Brock Osweiler. The competition is between Mark Sanchez and 2nd year Northwestern alum Trevor Siemian and I don't think anyone can expect much from either option. Combine that with the losses of key members of the offensive line, the offense could sputter a lot even with their elite options at wide receiver. As for their defense, two defensive standouts Malik Jackson and Danny Trevaethan left for the Jaguars and the Bears, respectively and Vance Walker is lost for the season. I expect their defense to take a step back from their historic dominance last season, and their well below average quarterbacks and offensive line could cost the Broncos a playoff spot if their defense doesn't repeat last year's performance.
2. Indianapolis Colts
After 2 straight seasons of improvement with Andrew Luck, their season went into a tailspin last year. Most of it was due to the injury of Andrew Luck, but this year it looks like they have a lot working against them. The Jaguars and the Texans both significantly improved this offseason, while the Colts didn't make any major improvements. Their offensive line is still average at best, they're relying on Frank Gore to still be a productive back at 33 years old, and they're defense doesn't look that great at all. Last season they ranked 26th in total defense (24th passing, 25th rushing, 25th scoring), and this summer they didn't add the depth they needed to in order to improve those stats this year. Andrew Luck will need to once again carry this team if the Colts want to stave off the competition and get back on top of the AFC South.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Last season the Bengals were their usual selves, pretty good defense, and reliable on offense, but once again failed to win a playoff game under Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Andy Dalton had one of the best years of his career completing 66% of his passes, 25 TD's to only 7 interceptions, was sacked the least amount of times in his career, and posted a career high 106 passer rating. This year though, they are without Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson, along with their #2 and #3 wideouts Mohamad Sanu and Marvin Jones. Replacing them with rookie Tyler Boyd and perennial disappointment Brandon LaFell, it's hard to imagine that Dalton will replicate last year's production. On the defensive side of the ball they still have one of the better defensive line's in the league, but there's a lot of questions about their secondary. Pacman Jones is still a good option but he is getting pretty old and the defense as a whole ranked in the bottom half of the league in pass defense. For the Bengals to make the playoffs this year, they'll have to outperform on defense, and Dalton will have to prove that last year was no fluke.
4. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys last season were riddled with injuries. Romo broke his collarbone for the 3rd time and All-Pro wideout Dez Bryant missed a significant amount of time with a foot injury. They're back and healthy this year, but relying on them to stay healthy (especially Romo) is something I can't do. They're offensive line is still easily the best in the league and #4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott should be a workhorse from day one, but if Romo misses any significant amount of time they're in extreme trouble. On defense they have tons of issues. They're 2 best pass rushers are both going to miss the first 4 games due to suspension, and they didn't add any help to their secondary this offseason. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne have both been disappointments in their tenures with the Cowboys, and they'll have to rely on a rehabbed Orlando Scandrick to pick up the pieces.
5. New York Jets
The major story around the Jets this summer was the contract negotiations with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets eventually caved, but is Fitzpatrick a guy worth caving for? Personally I would have stuck it out with Geno Smith because he did improve from his rookie to sophomore season. Along with the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick has never brought a team to the playoffs and only posted his best season at 33 years old. The Jets also lost franchise left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson to retirement and replaced him with Ryan Clady who's missed 2 of the last 3 seasons to injury. The defense is the hallmark of this team once again and should be one of the top defenses in the league, but I can't trust Ryan Fitzpatrick to repeat last years performance.