Some might say I’m quick on the draw for labeling teams before free agency has really begun or the draft has taken place, but some teams are just so far in the abyss that the draft nor free agency will help them. Plus, people are already pumping out mock drafts with players that haven’t even declared yet, so I feel that this is perfectly justified. What are the five worst teams in the league going to be?
5. Cleveland Browns (Prediction: 4-12)
Despite the current rush of teams trying to find new head coaches and coordinators, there hasn’t been a lot of noise from Cleveland apart from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s dismissal from the organization. I don’t think this bodes well for Cleveland, because their 7-4 to 7-9 collapse in 2014 says a few things to me: number one, the defense is at fault here no matter how you slice it, and number two, it doesn’t inspire much confidence for 2015. The team isn’t refreshing its staff, and with a quarterback jamboree featuring the likes of Brian Hoyer (who managed only a single touchdown in 47 drives while playing for Cleveland in 2014) and Johnny Manziel, who didn’t do much but turn the ball over, get sacked and get fined for partying instead of tending to his injured leg. While it’s too early to label Manziel as a bust, the early signs aren’t promising. These are not Bernie Kosar stats, these are more “Blaine Gabbert”-ish. I think the Browns are in the pot.
Wins: Oakland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, the Jets
Losses: Baltimore, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Denver, Arizona, San Francisco, Kansas City, Seattle, San Diego
4. Tennessee Titans (Prediction: 3-13)
The Titans and their fans will have to endure a few more years of rebuilding and football that can’t be labeled with any other word aside from “abomination”. Tennessee’s awful draft history over the past half-decade has finally caught up with them, as numerous high choices haven’t panned out (mainly injury-prone Jake Locker, who was once a No.8 overall pick but has done close to nothing), and the Titans are handcuffed by it. While winning five games over the span of two seasons is difficult to do with any sort of NFL talent, there have been several teams (I can think of four off the top of my head) who have won only four games over the span of two seasons. A 6-10 record is the most I can see the Titans achieving with a few upsets, but a 3-13 record prediction along with a brutal road game stretch (I have them going 1-7), it’s not hard to see the Titans picking in the Top 5 next year once again.
Wins: Oakland, Cleveland, Atlanta
Losses: Houston, Houston, Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Miami, New England, the Jets, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina
3. San Francisco 49ers (Prediction: 3-13)
The big surprise on the list comes in the form of the San Francisco 49ers, a team that made it to three consecutive NFC Title games before falling to an 8-8 record in 2014. While there is an argument that the team lost largely to the grinding of Jim Harbaugh, I don’t think the offense that went stale in 2014 will be much better in 2015. While picking games is totally possible, picking how many points one team is going to score is darn near impossible, but I’m thinking it’s a safe bet that San Francisco will rank very low in the league in scoring. Running back Frank Gore might call it quits (he’s wearing down regardless), quarterback Colin Kaepernick apparently has some sort of brain eating virus he contracted from Robert Griffin III, and offensive line coach Jim Tomsula is beginning his first head coaching job. It’s pretty hard to see a lot of wins here.
Wins: Cleveland, St. Louis, Atlanta
Losses: Arizona, Arizona, St. Louis, Seattle, Seattle, Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, the Giants
2. Atlanta Falcons (Prediction: 3-13)
Although the Atlanta Falcons scored nearly 24 points per game in 2014, their annually dwindling offensive efforts were spoiled by the NFL’s worst pass defense. Some people might ask why this leads me to believe the supremely talented Falcons will finish as the league’s second worst team, and there is a science to this. Of the nine teams in history to go 1-15, five of them have won 8, 7 or 6 games the previous season before their nosedive. On this list, the 49ers, Falcons, Browns and Rams fit the bill. While I’m not saying any team in the league will go 1-15, it’s hard to pick these games. With that said, the Falcons don’t appear to be a team with much stability. Head coach Mike Smith was incompetent, we know this, but the Falcons have slipped over any coach really worth hiring, whiffing on both Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles. An unholy, often injury-riddled defense combined with one of the worst offensive lines in football and a Matt Ryan with diminishing skills makes me think the Falcons are going to be sucking wind in 2015.
Wins: Tampa Bay, Washington, Jacksonville
Losses: Tennessee, San Francisco, Carolina, Carolina, New Orleans, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Dallas, the Giants
1. St. Louis Rams (Prediction: 2-14)
The Rams, as of late, have been a franchise that has reeked of cutting corners on pretty much anything that will bring stability to their franchise. Their draft picks have been bad, their free agent signings have been poor, their coach doesn’t understand the game anymore, and their stadium is a dump, leading to owner Stan Kroenke’s ever-ongoing “Conquest for Los Angeles”. As a result, the Rams are the elephant in the room to be the league’s worst team in 2015, as they’ve made little-to-no changes to their coaching staff or lineup, as well as giving yet another chance to Sam Bradford, who has the legendary talent of being able to break a bone every time a part of his body touches artificial turf. While the defense showed signs of pointing upwards in 2014, the offense took a huge dip, and I think that trend will continue with the Rams being one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league as well as the absolute worst.
Wins: Washington, Tampa Bay
Losses: Arizona, Arizona, San Francisco, San Francisco, Seattle, Seattle, Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit, Minnesota, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati