Being stuck in the midpoint of the NFL, without looking for high-selection teams, but also not competing for a Super Bowl title, is a frustrating place for the NFL fan bases. Particularly immediately after another failed season.
But sometimes mediocre franchises become excellent in a low season. The best playoff seeds in 2019, of course, were not notable in 2018. The Ravens went from a 10-6 group demolished in the wild card round by the Chargers to a power led by a Lamar Jackson MVP-caliber season. The 49ers did not reach the postseason a year before taking control of an NFC West division that featured reigning Rams champions and the ever-dangerous Seahawks.
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It is likely, then, that at least a couple of the low performers this season will outperform the next campaign. Who will that be? It is impossible to say with confidence. However, some teams seem to be more prepared to progress than others, based on internal talent and / or draft positioning.
Here are a handful of organizations that project as possible 2020 playoff contenders:
Why could Dallas reach the postseason in 2020?
The Cowboys were an absolute disaster in the second half of this season, becoming the laughingstock of the NFL when they fell to five losses in their last eight games. They dropped the NFC East to medium eagles. And yet, his list is full of high-end talents and his main office has proven to be an expert in construction through the draft, suggesting that a change in 2020 is on the horizon.
Few teams that did not reach the playoffs in 2019 can boast an offensive core as good as the Dak Prescott / Ezekiel Elliott / Amari Cooper trio operating in Dallas. The Cowboys will have to pay for Cooper, the future free agent, to keep moving forward, of course, but they also have 23-year-old passer Michael Gallup (1,107 yards, six touchdowns) in case Cooper leaves. Receiving depth will probably be an emphasis for Dallas in the 2020 NFL Draft, regardless of Cooper's result. They are in luck: Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins and Henry Ruggs III lead a wide class of widths available for selection.
While the Cowboys have failed to meet expectations in the past two decades, moving from coach Jason Garrett, who is expected but not yet executed, could be the extra boost that pushes them back into the playoffs and gives them greater Hope once you go there.
Why could Chicago reach the postseason in 2020?
The Bears, which appeared as annual NFC threats in 2018 behind a fierce defense, backed down this campaign mainly due to their inept game on the other side of the ball. The good news is that things cannot get much worse offensively: they ranked third in yards and points scored, and even a marginal step forward could make them return to the playoffs.
Chicago must decide whether to move from quarterback Mitch Trubisky this offseason. If you reduce your losses with the disappointing signal caller and pursue people like Cam Newton or Philip Rivers, there is a possibility of rapid improvement. Or the team could be so good at closing opponents' attacks that keeping Trubisky under the center doesn't matter. After all, the Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006 with Rex Grossman.
Not having a first-round pick in the next draft hurts a bit, but the existing pieces are still in place to set aside a frustrating 8-8 season.
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Why could Las Vegas reach the postseason in 2020?
The Raiders have an opportunity to make their first season in Las Vegas successful with the unknown products of the Broncos and Chargers division rival. Despite much drama this year, they were 7-9 and had two offensive rookies shine on Josh Jacobs and Hunter Renfrow. The team also has a couple of draft picks in the top 20, which could be a much needed impact defender.
Why both of them Los Angeles teams could reach the postseason in 2020
The Rams clearly have the talent to be a playoff team, having gone to the Super Bowl last year. But competing in the NFC West makes it a challenge to accumulate the necessary victories. They also have a large portion of their assigned salary dedicated to Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, which could limit their options in free agency. Still, any team loaded with receiving talent and defensive game creators like the Rams should be considered legitimate postseason contenders.
Like the Rams, the Chargers expect their 2018 to reflect their talent more than 2019. They have the benefit of playing in the much weaker AFC West division. His defense continues above average. But can they stop blowing games late? What happens in the quarterback with the possible departure of Philip Rivers will largely determine his fate there, and will play a leading role in a promising but uncertain 2020.