Non-Playoff ATS Rankings
January 2, 2018
Fixing the Non-Playoff Teams
Instead of the ATS Power Rankings, it’s probably more pertinent to throw some attention to the teams that didn’t make the playoffs instead of the ones that did. We have plenty of time to vomit up hyperbole about what’s going to happen in a Wild Card Weekend that looks ominously bad. For now, I’m sure there are plenty of you that are interested to see how your favorite (or least favorite) team can improve heading in to the 2018 campaign.
We’re starting from top and gutting down to the bottom of the barrel where the second franchise in history to go winless will be waiting. Obviously, I can’t hit every single point here so I’m just covering the most important.
Results per closing odds at BetOnline.ag
Seattle Seahawks (9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS)
The Legion of Boom is dead. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril may never play football again due to neck injuries sustained earlier this year. Sherman and Thomas are on the last legs of their contracts, and basically cost nothing to cut. The Seahawks are in the best position to rebuild out of anyone so it will be a fascinating study to see Carroll work his magic. One of the elements that Pete has been exceptional at is targeting players who respond to him. That’s an unappreciated talent for coaching staffs. The Seahawks will always be a devastating force of nature with Wilson healthy.
Spending more than fifty bucks on their offensive line while reimagining a new defensive roster remain the top two priorities for the Seahawks. Finding better fans would also probably help. Yes, you guys abandoned this team when they needed you the most. You’re the 12th Man when they’re winning and the first people out the door when they lose. Don’t act like you’re the best fans in the world. You’re amongst the worst.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
Something has to be said about a Baltimore team always seems to be knocking on the doorstep. The explosion of the running game in Baltimore was absolutely necessary and due in large part to Alex Collins emerging as a tour de force. He absolutely covered the shortcoming of Joe Flacco, who pivoted one of the worst passing attacks in the league. Baltimore ranked 29th in passing and 27th in total offence, while banking on Justin Tucker to help score 24.7 points per game (9th overall).
Baltimore desperately needs help in the wide-receiver department where their best pass catcher was Mike Wallace. This team seems to whiff on draft picks in this area with guys like Chris Moore (4th Round – 2016) and Breshad Perriman (1st Round -2015) failing to impress. In free agency, things get even worse for Baltimore as they’ve targeted over-the-hill talents like Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin. Flacco is not a great quarterback, but any passer gets better with improved receivers.
Los Angeles Chargers (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
We can all agree that the Chargers are a better team than their record indicates, and that’s pretty much where it all begins. They lost to Denver by three points and Miami by two points in the first two weeks of the season to help go 0-4 SU and 0-3-1 ATS in the first month of the season. After that, it was a ridiculous 9-3 SU and ATS the rest of the way. All they really need to do is get off to a better start. It might help if Los Angeles fans appreciated Phil Rivers and this talented team a bit more and came out to home games.
Dallas Cowboys (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
It was alluded to two weeks ago, but the best thing that Dallas could do is go out an get Earl Thomas for whatever Seattle wants. Thomas is a Texas native and former Longhorn who made it known in Week 15 that he wants to go home. Thomas and Sean Lee would be a devastating combination. In the meantime, just send Zeke back to Cabo and keep him out of the spotlight. Dallas will undoubtedly be a threat in 2018. They would’ve made the playoffs had Zeke not been unjustifiably expelled for six games.
Detroit Lions (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
It’s safe to say that Matthew Stafford played his part extremely well this season after signing the biggest contract in NFL history. And with Jim Caldwell gone, the sky is literally the limit for this team. Caldwell has been the ideal candidate to coach a team to a 9-7 SU record.
Arizona Cardinals (8-8 SU and 6-9-1 ATS)
The departure of two-time Coach of the Year Bruce Arians is a little sad, but probably needed in order to help replace some core players in the system. Namely Carson Palmer. There’s no doubt in my mind that Palmer can still play, but I don’t know if he can stay healthy. Having David Johnson for longer than the half-hour they did in 2017 will go a helluva long way, but finding a quarterback of the future is priority one for me.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-9 SU and 9-7 ATS)
The Bengals already addressed the biggest need for the team by having Marvin Lewis step aside. Something has to be said for consistency, but that consistency has to lead to spikes in performance every now and then. Seven playoff losses and exactly zero playoff wins isn’t going to cut it, especially when this team hit peaks of 12-4 SU in 2015 and 11-5 SU in 2013.
A new play calling staff as well as a new voice in the locker room is bound to go a long way, but this franchise might be due for an overhaul from top to bottom. Who they hire to lead this club in to the franchise will determine everything, so right now the Bengals have gone from “well here comes another frustrating year of Marvin” to “who the hell knows”. I’m not sure which is better. Oh wait, yes I do!
Green Bay Packers (7-9 SU and ATS)
The team has seemingly found a running-back after churning through about a dozen over the past five years. That part is great, and whatever they can get out of an aging Jordy Nelson will be pivotal to their success next season. With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are a playoff team and everyone knows this. That’s how important he is.
But as the one-year extension of Mike McCarthy and the firing of their general manger shows, the Green Bay Packers as a whole are getting frustrated by the lack of title banners hanging in Lambeau. Rodgers’ injury helped justify the 2017 shortcomings. The patience will not be there if this team doesn’t make it to the NFC Championship next season.
Washington Redskins (7-9 SU and ATS)
The bridge has to be burned with Kirk Cousins, who has been franchised two years in a row and played like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The crazy thing is that he didn’t take a huge drop off even when he lost guys like Jordan Reed and rookie standout Chris Thompson. The craziest part about Washington refusing to extend Cousins is that they drafted him as an insurance policy for RG3, who is now out of the league. You got it right, Washington! What are you waiting for?
Every single fan in the nation’s capital should be pissed this offseason when Cousins cashes in elsewhere. If the 2017 NFL season showed us anything, it’s how hard it is for teams to find a quarterback. Washington didn’t just find one, they treated him like a bag of smashed crabs and now they’re going to lose him.
San Francisco 49ers (6-10 SU and 9-7 ATS)
Pay Jimmy. Sit back. Enjoy.
Denver Broncos (5-11 SU and 4-11-1 ATS)
Would you be surprised if I said that they just need a franchise quarterback? You shouldn’t be. That’s literally the only thing that’s been missing, and Elway can no longer be arrogant enough to believe that the defense to float a bad pilot. Kirk Cousins makes the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
The Bucs curiously clung on to Dirk Koetter when Jon Gruden expressed interest and that has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. The franchise has gone all-in on Jameis Winston, who finally got to munch on a W in Week 17, but it’s obvious that Koetter lacks the personality to put Winston in line. I’ve made my feelings about the former first overall pick well known, but the fact that the Bucs value Koetter’s services at all is baffling. What exactly has he done to make this team any better than when Lovie Smith was at the helm? Forget maintaining the tradition of being the off-season’s most hyped team, Tampa. Unless Gruden takes back the headsets, Tampa is due for an 8-8 SU season at best. Discipline starts at the top and Koetter lacks the authority to instill it.
New York Jets (5-11 SU and 9-6-1 ATS)
The Jets are taking a very curious pathway to rebuilding, and I kind of enjoy it. Todd Bowles is a great coach and the team was smart to not only retain him, but extend his contract. There’s no easy fix here. The Jets are leaking everywhere, but re-signing Josh McCown for one more season and giving him some young weapons to tutor will point this team in the right direction. There’s no beating around the bush – the Jets are a long way from being competitive, but Bowles is one of the best in the game right now. The rebound to playoff form will happen sooner than most think, but not in 2018.
Miami Dolphins (6-10 SU and 5-9-2 ATS)
The Dolphins can be one of the most gun shy franchises in the league and the constant question of Cutler or Tannehill will plague how this team moves forward. Tannehill has done nothing to show that he’s really the kind of quarterback that teammates will lay out for, while Cutler completely vanishes for obscene stretches throughout the season. The problem for Miami is this incessant desire to be competitive every year without realizing that they don’t have the identity the Bills do, the coach that the Jets do or the everything that the Patriots do. No simple plug-n-plays will improve Miami next year. This team is fractured at the very top with an ownership group and a coaching staff that has plainly seemed out of its depth from Week 1. I just don’t see Miami as a team that can competently build a true contender.
Chicago Bears (5-11 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
Firing John Fox, who never seemed to be all-in this season, is a start. Finding a quarterback whisperer to get Mitchell Trubisky looking more poised and less like a guy who’s about to lose his virginity would probably help too. The Bears are well built. They just need a coach that can bring it together. Carolina’s defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is probably my favorite quick-fix candidate to re-build the Bears in to the franchise we all know and love.
Houston Texans (4-12 SU and 7-9 ATS)
Along with the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans will be the “it” team in the lead-up to the 2018 NFL season. DeShaun Watson and J.J. Watt are everything to this team, and the drop-off when both were injured for the season was obvious. The defence just needs to improve slightly, and Watson converts this offence in to a “what the hell are they even trying to do” in to a “holy crap how fun is this” type of group. DeAndre Hopkins is in for a banner year in 2018, even if Bill O’Brien’s dimpled chin will be filling up my big screen TV too many times on Sundays. I’m so sick of that guy’s face.
Indianapolis Colts (4-12 SU and 8-8 ATS)
A healthy Andrew Luck is essentially the difference between the Colts being somewhat playoff ready, and picking top-5 in the draft. If they have bring in a well regarded offensive guru to reshape how this team scores points, as well as a general manager who doesn’t burn draft picks on bums, it’ll help too. But this entire franchise rests on the surgically repaired shoulders of Andrew Luck. He’s good enough to be the difference between 10-6 SU and 4-12 SU.
New York Giants (3-13 SU and 7-9 ATS)
As I’ve said multiple times throughout the year, moving on from Eli Manning is a dumb decision. Not just because he won two Super Bowls for the city, but because he’s a good quarterback who lost Odell Beckham extremely early in the season. I think the fix for the Giants is coach-centric. Manning, the return of Beckham and the potential arrival of a mercurial talent like Saquon Barkley could have a seismic impact on this franchise. McAdoo was a cancer that needed to go, and it will take some scrubbing to undo all the damage he created but the Giants are mystifyingly heading in to a murky future with Manning’s status unknown.
Cleveland Browns (0-16 SU and 4-12 ATS)
The Browns probably need to retain Hue Jackson, but they also really need to think about what the hell they’re going to do at quarterback. DeShone Kizer either didn’t respond to coaching, or is just so bad that it never mattered. Kizer doesn’t show any of the intangibles that quarterbacks need to succeed in the NFL. He holds on to the ball forever and tries to make hero throws. His entire career might be exemplified forever by the winless season he helped create.
A rookie leading the league in interceptions isn’t the most ridiculous thing that’s ever happened, but Kizer also didn’t do enough besides that to justify retaining him in to 2018. I’m all for young people having careers, but Kizer is like a lot of prospective quarterbacks who have flamed out in the league. The draft will be fascinating with the Browns notching two top-5 picks overall.
The odds for Wildcard Weekend are already up! Get to BetOnline.ag to devour them now!
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