NFL Teams Most Likely to Fall Off in 2021 Season
Offseason changes can really have a negative effect in the NFL. Coaching moves, roster changes, free agency, and the NFL Draft can all dramatically alter a given team for better or worse. Here are the NFL teams most likely to completely fall off in the 2021 NFL season.
The Steelers surged out of the gate last season, opening with a perfect 11-0 record. After that, they lost five of their final six games and came crashing out of the first round of the playoffs. Teams overly reliant on a good defense will inevitably run into problems, and this was certainly the case with the Steelers late-season collapse. In 2021, the biggest variable for Pittsburgh is definitely the state of their offense. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was fired after a subpar 2020 campaign on the offensive side of the ball. The turnover continued as Alejandro Villanueva and Maurkice Pouncey departed the offensive line.
Pittsburgh is once again turning to 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get the job done, but they might already be asking too much of him. The Steelers probably won’t be as bad as they were at the end of last season, but their floor is definitely low.
Last season saw the Titans win their first AFC South title since 2008. Ryan Tannehill played well and Derrick Henry led the league in rushing for a second straight year. Then the offseason came, and Tennessee lost a lot. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith was hired away by Atlanta. Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith also went elsewhere. Those are all major losses for Tennessee’s offense.
The plan now seems like it will be to 1) hope Tannehill is still good without Smith and 2) force feed Derrick Henry. Since 1970, only two players have won three consecutive rushing titles. With the other offensive losses, Henry will have to shoulder an even bigger load than before. The Titans were not the clear top team in the AFC South last season, finishing tied with the Indianapolis Colts. Tennessee’s defense may have gotten a bit better, but the offensive changes will present a big challenge. If the Titans pick up Julio Jones in a trade, they might have enough firepower to stay competitive, but that remains to be seen.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints went 12-4 to win the NFC South last season, but that was largely overshadowed by their division rivals winning the Super Bowl. The big question is how the Saints proceed without Drew Brees. And this is a rough year to have to figure that out because New Orleans’ margin for error got much smaller. Tampa Bay will still be a contender, and the Panthers and Falcons each got better in the offseason. The Saints aren’t ready to hand the keys to Jameis Winston even though that was supposedly the whole idea behind signing him. There will be growing pains in New Orleans, and this isn’t an ideal year for that to be the case.
Green Bay Packers*
This could really go either way at this point, hence the asterisk. The Green Bay Packers’ ability to succeed in 2021 is almost completely tied to how they resolve the ongoing Aaron Rodgers situation. Obviously, a return for the reigning NFL MVP would put Green Bay right back in the thick of it as the NFC North favorites. If Rodgers forces his way out, however, the outlook gets much more bleak. The Packers would then turn to Jordan Love to be QB1, and that’s a massive downgrade. We’ll see in the coming weeks how things progress for Green Bay, but things could get very bad very quickly.
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