More than half of the 256 NFL regular season games are in the book. There are some compelling, absolutely engrossing story-lines. Be it the undefeated Chiefs, Drama Dez does Dallas, Peyton Manning’s record breaking production or the Meltdown in Miami. Then there’s just the gross: enter the Jaguars and Buccaneers, two teams still in search of their first win (update: both teams now with 1 win each, but they’re still horrible). We take the temperature of each team and layout the best-case/ worst-case scenario for the rest of the season (ROS): (teams ranked in reverse power-ranking order, because we can):
32. Jacksonville (Current Record: 0-8; Projected Record: 1-15)
In the same damn annoying vein as the ’72 Dolphins, do the ’08 Lions have Champagne on ice until the last win-less team finally wins?! A weekly double digit dog, the Jaguars seemingly have no bite. Defensively they can’t stop anyone. Offensively they have some nice young pieces on the outside in Shorts and Blackmon. [Editors note: Justin Blackmon is doing his damndest to drink himself out of the league. Somewhere, Matt Jones is proud]. However, they don’t have a competent signal caller to feed these guys the rock. The Owner is publicly questioning why this team hasn’t been blown apart yet. It seems likely that Gus Bradley will join the exclusive fraternity of coaches that survive a 2-win (or less) season.
Best Case ROS: Denard Robinson is given a long look at tailback and flashes big time potential. The team guts out a win or two, but still finishes with the worst record, securing the top signal caller in the 2014 NFL Draft (I get excited just typing that!).
Worst Case ROS: Really?! Could it get much worse, really? Here is a microcosm of the Jaguars season: a week after trading starting LT Eugene Monroe for a draft pick (wise move), LT Luke Joeckel (your 2013 No. 2 overall pick) goes down with a season ending injury.
2014 Draft Considerations: There are about 7 QB’s coming out this year that would be a vast improvement to anything on the Jags current depth chart. Could Teddy Bridgewater have the best selling jersey in London this time next year? I’m sure Darren Rovell will let us know.
31. Tampa Bay (Current Record: 0-8; Projected Record: 2-14)
Everyone knew the Jags would suck this year, I mean they did roll with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at QB. But Florida’s other win-less team is a bit more shocking. There were relatively high expectations for the Buckaroos at the start of the season, and for good reason: Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson had developed good rapport the previous season; Doug Martin had the makings of a 1500+ all purpose yardage back; a healthy Carl Nicks would solidify the offensive line; they pulled perhaps the biggest off-season move in trading away the No. 13 overall pick for Darrelle Revis and added top safety free agent Dashon Goldson. Well, I guess we all discounted the Greg Schiano iron-fist crazy factor (not Ginger King, he was beating on the douche bag drum since last years victory formation blitz!), because he promptly chased Freemen out of town, ran Doug Martin into the ground, and perplexingly placed the leagues best man-to-man cover corner in Cover-2 zone.
Best Case (ROS): The “Mike James Jumppass” becomes the next offensive “fad” and the Bucs continue to jump (pun intended) out to 21-0 first quarter leads. The defense should continue to get better, and the Bucs have admitted that Revis wasn’t quite as healthy at the start of the season as we were lead to believe. Gee, who would have thought Darrelle MEvis would put himself before his new team just so he could trot out there against his old team in Week 1?! (Answer: Ginger King!)
One of these does not belong.
Worst Case ROS: Everyone on the team contracts MRSA and they are forced to forfeit the remainder of the season and blow up Raymond James Stadium and rebuild the entire organization, literally! Would that really be so bad though?
2014 Draft Considerations: Jadeveon Clowney will be extremely difficult to pass up, but this team HAS to draft a QB. Perhaps they can move down a spot or two with another big off-season/draft day trade.
30. Minnesota (Current Record: 1-7; Projected Record: 3-13)
As a football fan it is depressing watching Adrian Peterson’s (not to mention Jared Allen’s) best years being pissed away by this franchise. AP has received handoffs from Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, and Josh Freeman this year. If this franchise is smart and/or serious about winning, he won’t receive any from these guys next year.
Best Case ROS: Someone, anyone, emerges from the three-headed QB suckfest competition to help back the eighth (and ninth) defender out of the box. Maybe Cordarrelle Patterson goes on a record setting spree by returning a kickoff in 8 consecutive games (because he sure as hell isn’t getting it done at WR). [Editors note: nice touchdown last night, CP!]
Worst Case ROS: Adrian Peterson misses time.
2014 Draft Considerations: The Vikings were the darlings of the 2013 Draft, with draftniks falling over themselves to give the Vikings a post-draft A+ grade because they, well simply because they landed 3 first-round draft picks. So how’s the A+ draft working out? Well, Xavier Rhodes has been a liability in coverage and has been dinged up; Shariff Floyd has flashed some potential and Patterson looks completely lost on offense. It’s still extremely early and naïve to classify what kind of players they’ll develop into, but when it’s all said and done I hardly believe the Vikings will go down as the “winners” of the 2013 Draft. As for next year, this team could go in just about any direction (except RB): OL, DL, DB, LB, QB.
29. Houston (Current Record: 2-6; Projected Record: 5-11)
How bad was the first half of the season? It was head-coach-stroke-bad! Get well Gary; you’re going to need your health to endure the rigors of job searching next year.
Best Case ROS: This little bastard Case Kennum (whom they literally plucked out of their backyard) gets a chance to showcase his talents and he makes the most of it. I personally like Case’s mentality and in-game strategy: just chuck it in Andre’s direction. Perhaps they rally behind their fallen coach and put together a wild card run….
What would possibly go wrong?!
Worst Case ROS: ….or perhaps they give Wade Philips a heart-attack (seriously, it can’t take much…RIP Bum Philips). The fantasy community will spend a great deal of this off-season wondering if Arian Foster’s insane workload is catching up to him or if he’ll bounce back (at a reduced price) in a big way. My money is on the former, not the latter. Football is a young mans game and RB is a young mans position. Move on while you still can.
2014 Draft Considerations: A pass-rushing outside linebacker to compliment JJ Watt. Perhaps Barr or Mack (the pride of UB!)
28. Pittsburgh (Current Record: 2-6; Projected Record: 5-11)
Here is a franchise that has done it right for so long that it’s shocking to see them have the type of season that is unfolding this year. But, digging a little deeper into some of their recent draft classes reveals one thing; they’ve been undeservingly getting a free pass. Since Tomlin took control **cough inherited a Super Bowl ready team**cough , the Steelers selected their fair share of head scratchers (translation: busts) in the draft: 2008: R. Mendenhall (R1), L. Sweed (R2), B. Davis (R3); 2009: E. Hood (R1), K. Urbik (R3); 2010: J. Worilds (R2), E. Sanders (R3); 2011: C. Heyward (R1), M. Gilbert (R2); 2012: M. Adams (R2), S. Spence (R3). For a team that doesn’t bring in many free agents, missing on all these (top 100) picks is catching up to them in the form of a 2-6 record.
Best Case ROS: Honestly, these draft picks sap the overall talent of the team, but nothing has done more to destroy the direction of this franchise than replacing Bruce Arians with jackass Todd Haley. Best Case (for Steelers fans) should be the continued downward spiral that leads to this guys firing.
Worst Case ROS: See Best Case ROS.
2014 Draft Considerations: The Steelers offensive line depth is a joke. A stud tackle should be high on their priority list.
27. Oakland (Current Record: 3-5; Projected Record: 5-11)
Honestly, I had the Raiders as the worst team at the beginning of the year, so this is a mildly pleasant surprise. While they may be one of the most inconsistent teams week-to-week (quarter-to-quarter for that matter) they certainly can be entertaining. Terrelle Pryor has be an intriguing dual threat QB, averaging 205 yards passing, 69 rushing yard and about 1 TD per game. The interceptions are higher than you’d like with 9 in 7 games, however, given his penchant to run he surprisingly hasn’t lost a fumble yet.
Best Case ROS: They aren’t going to run down the Broncos or Chiefs this year. Best case is seeing continued strides in Pryor to the point you’re comfortable building the team around him and using the draft and free agency to address some of their (gaping) holes.
Worst Case ROS: They announce they will be moving to Los Angeles.
2014 Draft Considerations: Someone on defense that can actually cover AND tackle would be a nice change of pace.
26. St. Louis (Current Record: 3-6; Projected Record: 5-11)
This is a Jeff Fisher team through and through: mildly mediocre. They weren’t playing that great before their “franchise” quarterback went down. Now with Kellen Clemons pulling the trigger, it looks like it’s going to be double-digit loss type of season.
Best Case ROS: It looks like Zac Stacy has separated himself from the muddled tailback mess, as he has run like a man on a mission the last few weeks. If this defense, which has some playmakers, can step it up they could keep this team in a lot of ball games down the stretch.
Worst Case ROS: They continue to struggle finding creative ways to get the ridiculously punitive Tavon Austin the ball in space.
2014 Draft Considerations: First, they might want to re-evaluate their height/weight ratios by position. Second, the Rams will have to decide this off-season whether or not to continue will Bradford under center. My hunch is they bring him back and continue to hope that it all clicks for him AND that he can stay healthy.
25. Atlanta (Current Record: 2-6; Projected Record: 5-11)
They were supposed to win the NFC South, weren’t they? The team kind of crumbled with offensive injuries: Steven Jackson, Roddy White and Julio Jones (who was putting up Megatron type numbers before his injury) all missed significant chucks of the first half of the season, with Julio being lost of the year. The Falcons are like the Jonathan Martin of football teams: soft (too soon?)!
Best Case ROS: It appears they’re getting healthy at just the right time. Perhaps this offense can regain its mojo and make a playoff run. I wouldn’t put it past them….
Worst Case ROS: …although their schedule isn’t all that favorable, with matchups against Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans and Carolina (who just beat them down) still left.
2014 Draft Considerations: A youth movement on both sides of the ball is needed.
24. Washington (Current Record: 3-5; Projected Record: 6-10)
I’m convinced Mike Shanahan is simply researching for his next book, titled “How to Ruin Your Franchise Quarterback in Two Seasons.” Forward by Norval Turner.
Best Case ROS: Daniel Snyder caves and changes the team name.
Worst Case ROS: Daniel Snyder caves and changes the team name.
23. Baltimore (Current Record: 3-5; Projected Record: 6-10)
We’ve had some pretty epic Super Bowl hangovers ourselves, but come on, this is borderline ridiculous.
Best Case ROS: Well, they are trying to run down Cincinnati and Cleveland, two franchises that historically have mastered the fine art of losing-streaks.
Worst Case ROS: Hey Joe, you’ve just won the Super Bowl and signed a $120M deal, what are you going to do next?! Oh, star in McDonald’s commercials of course!
22. NYG (Current Record: 2-6; Projected Record: 6-10)
What’s wrong with the Giants you ask? Well, they can’t run the ball; they can’t hang on to the ball; they can’t cover anyone; they can’t get pressure; they can’t stop throwing it to the other team; they can’t block and they can’t score touchdowns. But other than that the G-men are right where they want to be! Yeah, that’s it! They thrive in the underdog roll (just ask any of their fans, they’ll be more than glad to tell you this)!
Best Case ROS: The best thing that the Giants have going for them is that they play in the NFC EAST. No shame in being the skinniest kid at fat camp, isn’t that right Ginger King?! The Giants finally found a way to get David Wilson to stop fumbling: put him on IR.
Worst Case ROS: Lose 6, win 2.
21. Miami (Current Record: 4-4; Projected Record: 6-10)
Lawrence Taylor thinks Richie Incognito is a pussy. If LT were playing in this era he’d be leaving those messages on Roger Goodell’s phone. I’m not sure what more I can say that hasn’t already been said here and here. This is either going to be the rallying cry that bonds the team and propels them down the stretch or the nuclear bomb that blows them apart. I leaning (and rooting) towards the latter.
20. Buffalo (Current Record: 3-6; Projected Record: 6-10)
Time will tell if Buffalo got it right with QB EJ Manuel. When he’s played he has flashed some potential. But that’s the problem; injuries plagued him in college and have marred his rookie campaign. One thing that does appear to finally be resolved is a coach (and coaching staff) that knows what the hell they’re doing. Outside of the Saints game (in the Superdome) the Bills have been in every game.
Best Case ROS: Getting EJ Manuel and CJ Spiller back to form should help the offensive get its punch back.
Worst Case ROS: The Bills show you why it’s next to impossible to win with your 4th string QB at the helm.
2014 Draft Considerations: As mentioned, the jury is out on Manuel. However, Robert Woods and Kiko Alonso look like legitimate NFL starters with Pro Bowl upside.
19. Philadelphia (Current Record: 4-5; Projected Record: 6-10)
So we’ve got two incredible offensive performances, and 7 shitty ones in between. Not exactly the revolution you had in mind, huh?
Best Case ROS: I’m not one to beat a dead horse with a ball pen hammer, but: the NFC East. The Buccaneers would still be alive in this division.
Cheese-steak vs. BBQ
Worst Case ROS: I for one am really looking forward to the inevitable Chip Kelly/Eagles divorce (within the next 2 years). Back to the college ranks for you Chip Spurrier.
18. Tennessee (Current Record: 4-4; Projected Record: 7-9)
This team seems to do a lot of things good, but nothing great.
Best Case ROS: Chris Johnson is finally back! Long live CJ2K!
Worst Case ROS: Shonn Greene is finally back! Long live SG450!
2014 Draft Considerations: I’m guessing they won’t take an offensive linemen with their first pick.
17. Cleveland (Current Record: 4-5; Projected Record: 7-9)
7-9 is pretty ambitious for a team that traded away their starting running back in Week 2 and is trotting out their third string QB. However, Cleveland’s front seven is nasty. And when you mix in a healthy, lock-down Joe Haden, their defense is a handful for most teams in the league.
Best Case ROS: Jason Campbell is able to game manage; the defense and special teams continue to play at a high level and the Browns put some pressure on Cincinnati for the division crown.
Worst Case ROS: LeBron James goes three-peat and doesn’t return to the Cav’s next year.
2014 Draft Considerations: I’m guessing they won’t invest a first-round pick on a running back!