Every season, so called expert analysts dissect draft boards to determine the top picks, then they do more research and try to analyze the top players, but I’m going to do something a little different. Instead of picking that one player, let’s figure out the ones who are going to put it all together. This is about the NFL teams that will finally get over the hump.
1. Houston Texans
Houston has always had trouble finding a quality starting quarterback to turn their franchise around. Over the course of the past few seasons, they’ve built a formidable defense behind J.J. Watt but have yet to make a Super Bowl run due to their inability to find a decent QB. Now they have a better chance with the potential of both Deshaun Watson and Tom Savage. We’ve seen some good things from Savage, but even so, they drafted Watson in the first round, so he may get an opportunity to turn his potential into a reality.
Most teams look for that playmaker and a good defensive unit to pulverize players, and Houston has that. DeAndre Hopkins is an absolute beast and has been able to put up monster numbers with well below average quarterbacks every season. He even had his best season a year ago with Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, and Brandon Weeden throwing to him (1,500 receiving yards). How many other receivers can say the same? Most would blame their low numbers on their QB and most times rightfully so, especially with that trio, but Hopkins has dominated. Imagine him with an actual winning quarterback and the sky is truly the limit.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another interesting team primed to get over the hump is the Buccaneers as they have a solid receiver in DeSean Jackson to run alongside Evans, but just like Vincent Jackson, DeSean isn’t used to going through a season without an injury. And it’s only going to get tougher as he gets older. Thankfully for the Bucs, DeSean has played through his injuries in an effort to limit the number of games missed, but an injury could make him just as useless as he would be if he weren’t suited up.
Not only did they replace one injury prone receiver for another, but they’re relying on their same running backs from last season to carry the burden and with Doug Martin coming from a dismal season along with a stint in rehab, it doesn’t seem like a smart move when every season counts. They have potential but it will only take them so far especially from a division with two consecutive NFC Champions, and eventual Super Bowl losers. Will they be the third?
3. Oakland Raiders
Another potential NFL team to get the monkey off their backs this season is the Raiders. Derek Carr has really turned himself into the franchise’s premiere quarterback and will be there for years to come. They have a stud in Amari Cooper, a good number two in Michael Crabtree, and a defense that underperformed last season but has a lot of potential. Really the only question on everyone’s mind at this point is Marshawn Lynch. Will he be able to compete in “Beast Mode” or flame out?
The potential for this team in this division is exciting. They should win this division outright, but if for some reason they don’t, settling for anything less than second is absolutely unacceptable. The division title is theirs to lose, and we could finally see a winning culture in Oakland after all these years. Just like Houston, they’ve been waiting on the final piece to put it all together and they just might have finally done that with Lynch. But unlike Houston, the clock started ticking the day Marshawn signed on the dotted line, and time waits for no one.