The Philadelphia Eagles went from playoff spectators to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy Daniel Winnik Jersey , an impressive one-season turnaround that was far from unprecedented in the modern NFL.
The Eagles were the seventh team in the past 19 seasons to pull off that trick in a sport that always goes through some significant playoff turnover each season.
There have been at least four new playoff teams each year since the NFL went to the 12-team format in 1990, including eight new postseason participants last season when the Eagles won it all.
With new blood coming into the playoffs each year, there are just as many teams heading another way, doomed by injuries, age, bad luck, poor coaching or other reasons.
Here’s a look at three teams that could go from playoff spectators to participants, and three others that could go the opposite direction:
Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson showed flashes of becoming a star quarterback in six starts as a rookie before getting hurt. With the dynamic Watson on offense and a healthy J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus back on defense, the Texans could be in position to get back into the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. The Texans scored at least 33 points in Watson’s final five starts and then went 1-8 after he had a season-ending injury in practice. Keeping Watson healthy will be necessary it the Texans are going to rebound.
Green Bay Packers: Green Bay’s run of eight straight playoff appearances ended last season thanks mostly to a collarbone injury that limited star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to seven games. With Rodgers again healthy, the Packers should be among the contenders in the NFC, as they usually are. Green Bay was much more active this offseason under new GM Brian Gutekunst Jesper Bratt Jersey Kids , adding prominent free agents like Jimmy Graham and Muhammad Wilkerson. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine should bring a more aggressive approach that could help support Rodgers and the offense.
San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco won its final five games last year after making the switch to Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. With Garoppolo signed long term and poised to take his 7-0 career record into his first full season as an NFL starter and coach Kyle Shanahan having much more talent in Year 2 at the helm, the Niners could have the pieces to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Free-agent running back Jerick McKinnon should spark the offense, and the defense has some key building blocks in DT DeForest Buckner and LB Reuben Foster. Richard Sherman could provide a defensive boost at cornerback if his Achilles tendon injury is healed.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills ended the longest playoff drought in North America’s four major sports leagues when they made the postseason for the first time since 1999. Repeating that in coach Sean McDermott’s second season will be a more difficult trick, especially with the change made at quarterback this offseason. Tyrod Taylor was traded to Cleveland, leaving either career backup A.J. McCarron or raw rookie Josh Allen as the top two options. Making the playoffs with one of those two at the helm would be a long shot, even in the weaker AFC.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans also ended a playoff drought last season, making the postseason for the first time since 2008 under third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota and coach Mike Mularkey. Even winning a postseason game wasn’t enough for Mularkey to keep his job and Tennessee is now retooling under new coach Mike Vrabel. The Titans are in a tough division with Houston and Indianapolis likely taking big steps forward if Watson and Andrew Luck are healthy, and Jacksonville having one of the league’s most talented rosters. That makes a return to the postseason a difficult proposition in Tennessee.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons took a step back last year after their Super Bowl collapse the previous season but still made the playoffs as a wild-card team. The offense regressed a bit after losing Shanahan as coordinator. There still is plenty of talent in Atlanta led by quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones, but the NFC is stacked, leaving little margin for error.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders spent most of the lead-up to the season in the same predicament Womens Kyle Palmieri Jersey , with their Defensive Players of the Year holding out while seeking new contracts.
When the teams open the season against each other Monday night in Oakland, that will have changed. The Rams will have last year’s winner of the league’s top defensive award on the field anchoring the middle in Aaron Donald. The Raiders will be without 2016 winner Khalil Mack, who was traded to Chicago.
The Raiders dealt Mack for a package including two first-round draft picks a day after Donald signed a six-year, $135 million deal, with $87 million guaranteed. Oakland was unwilling to pay that price for Mack, forcing defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to shelve plans he made after getting hired on how to use Mack, and proceed the way he approached training camp with the rest of the overhauled defense.
“I think I saw the guy in a restaurant in March one time,” Guenther said. “My kids pointed it out to me, ‘Hey, its Khalil Mack. He’s got the new Jordans on.’ You know, I wouldn’t know. With as many new players we brought in http://www.officialknightsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-brad-hunt-jersey , new coaching staff we just kind of got use to him not being here and operating with what we got, so we are going to move along that way.”
The Raiders spent much of the offseason trying to improve their pass rush by moving Bruce Irvin to a full-time defensive end position, and drafting P.J. Hall, Arden Key and Maurice Hurst. That group helped generate 12 sacks in the preseason and will have plenty of pressure starting Monday night to fill Mack’s void.
“It’s an opportunity for me and the rest of the guys on the D-line,” Key said. “That’s just another opportunity. Khalil Mack is gone. We can’t dwell on it. We have to move forward and somebody has to step up in his spot.”
The Rams said they weren’t exactly upset to see Mack traded, considering he has averaged more than 12 sacks and 60 quarterback pressures over the last three seasons. But they noted they still have to face Mack in Week 14 and that the Raiders’ other rushers present enough of a challenge this week.
“He’s a great player, and he’s not going to be on the team we’re playing this week, but they’ve got plenty of good players, and they’ve got a great defense and a great team that we’re preparing for,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We’re not thinking very much about Khalil right now.”
The Raiders have plenty to worry about on Los Angeles’ defense now that Donald is back to team with three former All-Pros added this offseason: defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
The new-look lineup gives coordinator Wade Phillips one of the game’s best pair of cornerbacks in Peters and Talib William Nylander Jersey , as well as interior rushers in Donald and Suh.
The Raiders have a good idea what to expect with Peters and Talib having spent the past few years in the AFC West; Oakland playing against Suh in Miami last year; and Phillips serving as defensive coordinator in Denver in 2015-16 when he faced the Raiders four times overall.
“They’re all great players,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “They have a great team, great defense. Great challenge they present us. Then (defensive coordinator) coach Phillips calling it. I’ve gone against him a number of times. He does his stuff, man, and he’s really good at it. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. I can sit here and talk good things about all those guys. They know how I feel about them, they’re great players.”
The Rams have spent the past week incorporating Donald into the mix after he held out all offseason and training camp. They have experience doing it from last year, when he didn’t report until one day before the season opener and missed the first game.
He’s had more than a week of practice and should be ready for the opener for what could be the most star-packed defense in the league.
“We haven’t played in any games or any meaningful snaps, so we’re still figuring out how to come together as a defense,” coach Sean McVay said. “You feel good about those two players and some of the other guys that will play with them up front. It looks good right now, but it’s about playing together as a unit and doing a great job against what we know is going to be an excellent challenge with a great offense on Monday night.”
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