There’s potential for a lot of turnovers when it comes to the 2017 NFL playoffs. The defending Super Bowl champions Denver Broncos have no idea who will be starting at quarterback in Week 1, and their options are Mark Sanchez or Trevor Siemian, according to the Denver Post. The Broncos could find it difficult just to win eight or nine games, let alone win the AFC West once again.
The New England Patriots could be forced to play the first four games of the season without Tom Brady. While it’s unlikely that the Patriots would completely miss the 2017 NFL playoffs, it could put them in a hole depending on the play of backup Jimmy Garoppolo.
Even the Cincinnati Bengals have lost wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, and a few pieces in the defensive secondary. The Bengals will be forced to rely on a number of newcomers as the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to get stronger over the offseason. Making the playoffs could be a challenge for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals.
All of this potential turnover means that there have to be some potential newcomers to the playoff field. Here are five teams that will make the 2017 NFL Playoffs after missing the 2016 postseason.
The Cowboys couldn’t get out of their own way in 2015 as quarterback Tony Romo dealt with a broken collarbone for most of the season and Dez Bryant played with a broken foot. According to the Star-Telegram, both guys should be healthy for the 2016 season, and that should be enough to make the playoffs. In addition, the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft and will put him behind the best offensive line in the NFL.
Defensively, Dallas will return most of the pieces from a defense that finished No. 16 in scoring defense last season and No. 17 in total yards allowed. Corner Orlando Scandrick will be returning from a knee injury and should give a big boost to the secondary.
The Colts went 8-8 last season and nearly won the AFC South division despite having Matt Hasselbeck start at quarterback for half of the season. Andrew Luck will return healthy this season, and that will give a big boost to the Colts’ offense. Expect the Houston Texans to win the division, but the Colts should easily slot in as a wild card team in the 2017 NFL Playoffs.
The Dolphins were one of the biggest disappointments in 2015 as the team fired its head coach, Joe Philbin, following a 1-3 start and finishing with a 6-10 record after spending a lot of money in free agency last offseason. Miami hired Adam Gase as its new head coach this offseason, and he should do wonders with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ offense. After all, he did fix Jay Cutler last season.
With Vance Joseph taking over the defense, expect Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake to get more pressure on the quarterback in 2015. That was one of the biggest problems for the defensive unit last season and it won’t continue under Joseph. The Patriots will likely still win the AFC East, but the Dolphins will grab the second wild card spot.
The Raiders were already stacked with talent on offense with Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and a very underrated offensive line. General manager Reggie McKenzie went out this offseason and loaded up on defensive talent which should give the Raiders a great shot at winning the AFC West and making the NFL playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers shocked everyone when they fired Lovie Smith this offseason and replaced him with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. While the move may have come out of nowhere, the Buccaneers couldn’t have picked a better replacement for Jameis Winston. Winston will get to stay in the same system that made him so successful in 2015, and that should lead to a big season and an NFL playoff spot for Jameis and the Bucs.
Obviously, these are just educated predictions, but there’s a real chance for major turnover in the 2017 NFL playoffs as opposed to the 2016 playoffs. A number of teams are improving, while some are regressing, and it could make for some serious parity in the NFL next season. Let us know in the comments section which team you think could make the 2017 NFL playoffs after missing the 2016 NFL playoffs.
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