Seven Non-Playoff Teams With Best Chance To Improve In 2017

Posted by Eric Williams on Thursday,February 9, 2017 5:18, EDT in

If you’re an NFL football betting enthusiast that loved the phenomenal Super Bowl 51 matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons and you just can’t wait until the start of the 2017 regular season, then you’re going to love the expert analysis that you’re about to get on seven teams that failed to make the playoffs this season but could very well do so – and much more – in 2017. Let’s get started.

Seven Non-Playoff Teams With Best Chance To Improve In 2017

 

 

Denver Broncos

The Broncos (9-7 SU, 9-7 ATS) have an elite defense that ranked fourth overall and first against the pass and that alone will keep them in most of their games in 2017. More importantly, the Broncos have a knowledgeable football operations leader that knows how to win in Hall of Fame legend John Elway.

Elway hired defensive ‘genius’ Vance Joseph to lead the team into a new era after Gary Kubiak retired following the regular season and by all accounts, Joseph, a Wade Phillips disciple, will hit the ground running. The Broncos and Joseph have a decision to make next season, but it’s a pleasant problem where he’ll have to figure out if 2016 starter Trevor Siemian or 2016 first round draft pick Paxton Lynch will become the team’s starter moving forward. Denver ranked an uninspiring 27th in total offense last season.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans (9-7 SU 7-9 ATS) may have had their playoff hopes dashed with Marcus Mariota’s season-ending injury in Week 16, but Tennessee has the foundation in place for success in the immediate future. Mariota was absolutely phenomenal in his second season and will clearly only get better moving forward.

The Titans have pair of bruising running backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and simply needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball by adding some quality players through the draft and free agency. While the Titans ranked an encouraging 11th in total offense and third in rushing, Tennessee ranked an uninspiring 20th in total defense and even more disturbing 30th against the pass.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens (8-8 SU, 7-9 ATS) were damned good on defense in 2016 is they finished seventh overall, but have to make some serious improvements on the offensive side of the ball after finishing the 2016 season ranked  17th overall and 28th in rushing. Baltimore could use some help on the offensive line, not to mention a new starting wide receiver and possibly a new starter at running back. Basically, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco needs weapons people.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles (7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS) have the No. 1 need of any rebuilding franchise that is looking to win and that’s a gifted quarterback. The Birds got it right by drafting quarterback Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, but they need to add a bunch of talent at the skill positions and along the offensive line in order to help their young quarterback reach his full – and clearly vast – potential.

Last season, Philadelphia ranked 22nd in total offense, but just 24th in passing. While the Eagles did rank a solid 11th in rushing, veteran Ryan Matthews led the team with modest 661 rushing yards, so an upgrade at running back looks like a necessity as well. Defensively, the Birds ranked a respectable 13th in total defense and in the middle of the pack in every significant defensive statistical category.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings (8-8 SU, 9-7 ATS) fell completely apart right around week 6 this season, but still have plenty of hope to get back in the playoffs next season, thanks to their stingy defense and the likely return of starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

While veteran Sam Bradford played respectable football in replacing the injured Bridgewater and is expected to challenge for the starting job next season, the Vikings would do well to remember that they finished the regular season ranked 28th in total offense and dead last in rushing. Adrian Peterson will be a year older next season and is way closer to the end of his career than the beginning. The Vikings finished a stellar third in total defense, but they could also use some explosive talent at the wide receiver position and some upgrades along the offensive line.

Carolina Panthers

Carolina (6-10 SU, 6-9-1 ATS) was a complete mess one season after reaching Super Bowl 50, but the Panthers are a great pick to get back into the playoffs next season because of their still, talented defense.

While the Panthers ranked 21st in total defense and 29th against the pass, they have far more pressing needs on the offensive side of the ball after watching Cam Newton get routinely pounded on a weekly basis. Yes, Carolina will go only as far as Newton takes them, but Carolina has a great head coach in the underrated Ron Rivera and generally drafts very well so I believe they could easily address some of their most pressing needs before the start of the 2017 season.

 

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers (9-7 SU, 9-7 ATS) had an impressive 2016 season despite coming up just short of reaching the playoffs. More importantly, the Buccaneers clearly have a franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston (4,090 passing yards) although they undoubtedly have some needs to address this offseason on the offensive line and on the defensive side of the ball.

The Bucs ranked an uninspiring 24th in rushing while also ranking in the 20s in nearly every meaningful defensive statistical category except points allowed where they finished a respectable 15th overall. If Tampa Bay can address is most pressing needs, a double-digit win season could be in the immediate future for Winston and company.