Playoff Bound or Down? – 2017 NFL Playoff Teams That Missed in 2016

By Ha Kung Wong, Joanne Kong, Scott King and Jake Smith

Here we are at the beginning of the 2017 NFL Season!  And of course, since we can’t help but start predicting who’s going to make the playoffs, we’re going to just that!  But this is not just any prediction. We’re looking at teams that missed the playoffs last year but will break through to the playoffs in the 2017 NFL Season!

So without further to do, here are our picks!

Ha Kung’s Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2016 Record: 9-7, 2nd in NFC South

Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their first winning season since 2010 going 9-7 and barely missing a Wild Card spot after losing a tie breaker (record against common opponents) with the Detroit Lions.  But for Bucs fans, that’s OK because they found they’re franchise QB in Jameis Winston and a superstar receiver in Matt Evans.  The only downside was the lack of effectiveness in the backfield, leaving the Bucs 3rd to last on the ground in 2016 according to DVOA on Football Outsiders.  The ground game doesn’t look to change much, with Doug Martin serving a 3 game suspension and Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims handling backfield duties Week 1.

Jameis Winston

But keep in mind that the Bucs were able to just miss out on the playoffs DESPITE the poor backfield.  And that 12th ranked passing attack is just getting better.  Not only do Winston and Evans get another year together, but the Bucs added WR DeSean Jackson in free agency and drafted standout TE OJ Howard at 19th overall.  If Winston can’t succeed with these weapons, maybe he’s not the franchise QB we thought he was.

And although the pass defense was top notch in 2016, ranked 6th in the NFL, the run defense was the polar opposite as the leagues 7th worst.  But the Bucs have also addressed that issue by getting DE Chris Baker in free agency as well as drafting LB Kendell Beckwith in the 3rd round out of LSU.  Sure, it won’t turn things around overnight, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

And let’s be clear.  Taking a step forward from a 9-7 season to 10-6 isn’t going to require much fidgeting.  I think they get there as well as a playoff spot this year.  And heck, they were on Hard Knocks this season, so that must count for something, right?

Joanne’s Pick

Washington Redskins

2016 Record: 8-7-1, 3rd in the NFC East

Offense:

In 2016, the Washington Redskins finished 8-7-1, third in the NFC East, missing the post season.  It’s hard to believe with Kick Cousins having one of the best seasons of his career amassing 4,917 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and finishing sixth overall among quarterback.

Good news for Redskins fans in 2017, though, as Cousins’ returns to lead the team one more time.

Kirk Cousins

In 2016, the Washington offense averaged 403.4 yards per game, the third most offensive yards per game in the league, also giving up only 23 sacks.  This couldn’t have been accomplished without Washington’s offensive line.  In the upcoming season, the starters of Washington’s offensive line will all return – Trent Williams (left tackle), Morgan Moses (right tackle), Spencer Long (center), Shawn Lauvao (left guard) and Brandon Scherff (right guard).  Ty Nsekhe (tackle) will also return after signing a one-year contract for $690,000.  In 2016, Nsekhe started four games in place of suspended Trent Williams and replaced injured Morgan Moses for two games.  Nsekhe had been an invaluable asset to Washington, adding the necessary depth to their front line.  Of course, the offensive line had their share of imperfections in 2016, as Lauvao was inconsistent in pass-blocking and the line generally struggled to create consistent running lanes.  Hopefully, the 2017 season shows an improved front line, helping to lead the team into the post-season.

Although Cousins has lost wideouts DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, the team has added some new weapons with Terrelle Pryor Sr. (quarterback turned wide receiver), and Brian Quick (WR).  With the return of standouts Jamison Crowder (WR), Jordan Reed (TE) and 2016 first round draft pick, Josh Doctson, finally healthy, opposing defenses will surely have their work cut out for them.

Jordan Reed

Defense:

In 2016, the Washington defense allowed 6,046 yards, the fifth most yards allowed by a defense in the league.  In the 2017 NFL draft, Washington spent six-out-of-ten picks on defensive players, demonstrating the team’s commitment to building a better defense.  In addition, Washington signed Zack Brown (pro-bowl 2016 line-backer from the Buffalo Bills), Terrelle McClain (Defense Tackle from the Dallas Cowboys), Stacy McGee (Defensive Lineman from Oakland Raiders) and D.J. Swearinger (free-safety from Arizona Cardinals).  These additions should add some physicality to the team, giving them a shot at improving their numbers.

Ultimately, I think the Redskins improve to 11-5 and make the playoffs this year.

Scott’s Pick

Tennessee Titans

2016 Record: 9-7, 2nd in the AFC South

The NFL averages six new playoff teams every season.  Experts are usually shocked to see what teams miss and what new teams make it every season.  I know there have been seasons where I was certain a team was going to make it, only to see them go 3-13.  This season, I’ve picked several new teams, but the one I have the most confidence in is the Tennessee Titans.  This team has been adding talent on both sides of the ball over the last few season and they have the most important position figured out, with Marcus Mariota at QB.

Marcus Mariota

I expect to see the Texans take a step back, and with the injury to Luck, The Titans are in the best position to win the division.  We’ll see how it works out on the field.

Jake’s Pick

Carolina Panthers

2016 Record: 6-10, 4th in the NFC South

You have to pick either the 2015 season or the 2016 season to be a fluke. The Panthers were just too good defensively for me to think they can’t come back again this year and not perform at a high level.

Cam Newton

I don’t see the Falcons giving them the division, but behind the leadership of Cam Newton & Luke Kuechly, the Panthers should go 10-6 and cement a wild card spot.

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