Turnover is a fact of life in the NFL. Even when the league added two playoff teams to make the leap to 14 teams in 2020, five of the 12 teams that reached the 2019 season did not make a two-way trip this season. This is a group that includes the 49 who were the best in the NFC and its representatives in the Super Bowl LIV, and the Patriots, who had reached the playoffs in 17 of the previous 19 seasons. The Texans, Vikings and Eagles also failed to return in January, with two of the three not even coming close.
Let’s try to project what the picture of the 2021 playoffs might look like until we get to the end of next season. Let me start with the obvious: It will be wrong. We don̵
We know the Colts will have a new starting quarterback as Philip Rivers announced his retirement on Wednesday, but Drew Bryce’s future with the Saints is still in the air. We don’t even know if the fans will be able to cheer up the stadiums in September.
I will build on the facts we know – namely how each team performed in 2020 and what at least 16 games will look like on their schedule in 2021 to help make educated assumptions about the playoff field of the next season. Where I made particularly surprising choices, I tried to give a historical context for teams that have made comparable jumps or similar declines.
Let’s start with the team, which is perhaps the least surprising choice of all defending champions:
Transfer to a team:
ATL | BALL | BUF | CHI | CLE
DAL | GB | IND | JAX | KC
LAR | MIA NO | NO | INCOME
SF | SEA Tuberculosis TEN | WSH