3 Winning NFL Teams That Won’t Make the Playoffs
Published on October 12, 2018
Getting off to a hot start in the NFL is usually essential for a team to enjoy a great year and at least make the playoffs.
In a league where a 10-6 finish doesn’t always guarantee you a trip to postseason play, dropping 2-3 losses on the schedule in the first few weeks can be lethal.
Avoiding those trappy losses and building your way to a record above .500 in the first quarter of the year doesn’t guarantee a thing, however. In fact, depending on your division and conference, simply keeping your head above water is not always going to be enough.
That may very well be the case for a few teams in 2018. Outside of the undefeated Rams and Chiefs, of course, it’s likely that just about everyone still has a lot to prove.
There are oddly enough just 12 teams in the NFL with winning records right now and six more sitting at .500. I’ve already written about some losing NFL teams that still have a chance at the playoffs, and there are just 12 spots up for grabs.
This means there are bound to be some disappointed squads. I’m going to look at three that I expect to fall into this category come postseason time.
For one reason or another, these teams lead the way when I think of winning NFL franchises that won’t see postseason play in 2018.
I never really bought into the Miami Dolphins. I don’t know if it’s because Adam Gase looked lost in 2017 or if this no-name defense doesn’t seem believable.
Maybe it’s because of their refusal to give their best running back (Kenyan Drake) a heavy workload or quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s tendency to underwhelm.
All of that is probably true, but the biggest thing to start the year was Miami’s easy schedule. Wins over the Titans, Raiders, and Jets aren’t very awe-inspiring.
The Dolphins are still a winning team and are tied for first place in the AFC East as I write this, but I don’t see it lasting very long.
A two-game losing streak is just the tip of the iceberg, as they got housed by the Patriots and last week blew a 17-0 lead and lost by 10 to the Bengals.
I’d say the latter is a much bigger testament to who they are, and for bettors, that’s a massive tease.
Miami is still ahead of the curve as things stand, but there are several teams in the AFC that have gotten off to slow starts but are probably on the rise.
The Dolphins aren’t winning the AFC East (Pats are alarming -800 favorites at SportsBetting.ag), so that means they need a wild card spot.
Beating out fellow wild card teams like the Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Titans, Texans, and even the Browns or Broncos could be a lot easier said than done.
The Ravens are probably the toughest team to go against in this list. In a lot of respects, they have the pieces you want out of a legit playoff contender.
In fact, SportsBetting.ag and other NFL betting sites currently list them as a viable threat (+2000) to win Super Bowl 53.
The logic behind that isn’t even terrible. That’s what is so scary about these Ravens.
Joe Flacco was motivated by the selection of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 2018 NFL Draft. That lit a fire under him this summer, and he’s responded with solid play during a respectable 3-2 start.
Baltimore even has a running game, in theory, while they’re equipped with one of the better overall defenses in the NFL as well. The Super Bowl-winning experience is there with their quarterback and head coach, too, but there’s something off about this team.
For one, much like Miami, their schedule hasn’t been that imposing. They housed what still looks like a bad Bills team in week one, they beat a sliding Broncos team not long after, and last week, they actually lost to the Browns.
I don’t know if any of that stands out to make Baltimore fraudulent, necessarily, but I don’t think it boosts them up, either.
They also face the same tough conference Miami does, but their battle inside the AFC North is what is truly troubling. At least the Dolphins look like the second-best team in their own division. Baltimore? Not so much.
Not only have the Ravens already eaten losses to both the Browns and Bengals, but the Steelers (2-2-1) are nipping at their heels. They have to face each of those teams one more time, too, and depending on how they fare, they could quickly dig themselves an insurmountable hole.
The Titans have a solid defense, but beyond that, I’m pretty clueless as to how they’re actually winning games.
They’re inexplicably 3-2 and atop the AFC South, even though they haven’t been very dynamic through the air and also haven’t been able to consistently establish the run.
That defense is the only thing really clicking for them, and while it’s imposing (just 86 points allowed this year), I’m not quite sold it’s so good it can carry them to the NFL playoffs.
Even if I’m wrong, there’s a pretty good chance Marcus Mariota’s erratic play could sabotage any growth they enjoy.
After making the playoffs last year, the Titans feel like a team that over-achieved and lucked out by getting off to a strong start.
They have bad losses to the Dolphins and Bills, while all three of their wins have come by a field goal.
The lack of dominance is easy to point out, and a 9-6 win over the rival Jaguars shouldn’t be classified as evidence that they’re the best team in this division.
To me, that’s still the Jaguars, and by the end of the year, I think that will be pretty clear.
That leaves the Titans in the same boat as the Ravens and Dolphins, trying to prove themselves as a wild card squad.
The AFC is just too loaded with mediocre teams right now to buy the Titans, while there’s no guarantee Tennessee even holds off the 2-3 Texans, who are suddenly surging with two straight wins.
Overall, you’re looking at a more competitive than expected AFC, and that’s a big reason why all three of my picks to not make the playoffs hail from that side of the NFL.
More specifically, the depth of the AFC North really complicates things, and the Chargers are probably a lock for me to be that fifth team to crack the postseason tournament.
That means quite a few teams are angling for one wild card spot, and I don’t know if I can pick any of these three teams over the Pittsburgh Steelers just yet.
Add in the Browns, Broncos, and Texans, and I’d bet pretty confidently that the aforementioned three teams miss the playoffs.
You can also consider placing wagers on the NFC side, but that conference is actually struggling too much right now to really attack with this kind of bet.