Seventeen weeks of professional football always delivers some of the most entertaining moments you’ll find in sports, which is what makes the NFL the most popular sports league in America. This year was no different – the 2016-2017 season was one of the craziest in recent memory.
It seemed like every team lost a star player to injury at one point, there were no undefeated teams left by week seven, and six of last year’s 12 playoff teams didn’t make the cut this year. In fact, both teams that played in the Super Bowl were among those that couldn’t squeeze into the playoffs.
Since making the playoffs is almost always a good metric for success, it’s time to look at which teams had the most disappointing seasons. We’re not talking about the ones that everyone expected to lose, like the Browns. This is a look at the teams who look back at 2016/17 and think about what could have been.
The Broncos, last year’s Super Bowl victors, didn’t even make the playoffs this year. True, they weren’t facing expectations quite as high as the Carolina Panthers due to Peyton Manning’s retirement, but the defense was supposed to be as good as last year, and a lot of people thought they won the Super Bowl despite Manning, not because of him.
In general, the defense lived up to its billing, but inconsistent play at the quarterback position and an injury to starting running back C.J. Anderson stunted the Broncos just enough that their 9-7 record couldn’t get them into the playoffs.
After a 4-0 start, the Broncos dropped seven of their final 12 games.
Up until two weeks ago, the Raiders would’ve been farther away from this list than anyone. Oakland was enjoying its best season since 2002, with quarterback Derek Carr leading his high-flying offense to an unexpected 12-3 record.
Then, against the Indianapolis Colts, everything went sideways. Carr went down with a broken leg, and any hope the Raiders had of making a Super Bowl run died with his chances of playing again this year.
They had already clinched a playoff spot before Carr was injured, but without him, they had no shot in their first round, even against arguably the weakest playoff team, the Houston Texans. Just like that, the dream season was cut short. It still hasn’t totally sunk in yet for many fans.
Picked by many to make a Super Bowl run this year, the Cardinals seemed to have all the pieces in place: a powerful running game led by David Johnson, a high-flying passing attack and a secondary filled with ball hawks.
Like the Panthers, the Cardinals have struggled severely on the offensive line, and quarterback Carson Palmer didn’t take care of the ball very well. With very little depth on defense, it’s no surprise that the Cardinals are mired in mediocrity.
New city, new stadium, new team, right? Not exactly. Even a move to Los Angeles couldn’t save the Rams from being really bad.
It’s hard to win games when your offense still ranks dead last in the NFL with a pitiful 262 total yards per game, and your front office doesn’t seem to think very carefully about its actions. Remember when they fired the head coach a week after giving him an extension?
Now that this difficult season is behind them, these teams can look forward to some time off to regroup. Hopefully they’ll be able to bring their A games next year and redeem themselves after this disappointing season.
No doubt the most disappointing NFL team this season, the Panthers’ 2016 campaign could be classified as a disaster. After a 15-1 regular season, a trip to the Super Bowl and an MVP award for Cam Newton, many believed the Panthers would again contend for the league trophy this season.
They were so good last year that they got a ridiculous amount of praise, including being compared to a Dodge Hellcat and having this, um, “song” go viral. No songs are being written for them this year after a pitiful 6-10 campaign. These Panthers were more like kittens.
This year, almost all of the Panthers’ struggles can be directly tied to two things: abysmal offensive line play and shoddy coverage in the secondary. It doesn’t matter how great Cam Newton is if his line can’t protect him and the defense forces him to play from behind all the time.
It was a rough year for those teams. However, they all still have a ton of talent, and can easily regroup for next year. After all, things can’t get much worse.