Teams sitting at home in January can rejoice in one NFL truth while regretting another. They can rejoice in the fact that the NFL's extreme parity -- more than 20 teams were in the playoff mix in the final weeks of the regular season -- facilitates quick rebuilds. The Cincinnati Bengals, for example, just executed a six-game turnaround, going from four wins and a top-five draft pick to 10 wins and a division title -- and a trip to the Super Bowl. But the Bengals have Joe Burrow, which brings us to the regret: Many of the teams in the bottom third of the standings don't have a steady quarterback option. Most also need offensive line improvements. Bad protection coupled with indecision in the pocket breeds losing.
Now that the 2021 season is over, we're looking ahead at just how much work each must do this offseason -- and potentially beyond. Which teams need to tear it all down and start over? Which need to take a new approach in order to move toward contender status? Which need only a savvy move or two to get into the mix? And which are already trending in the right direction and should continue on the path they are on?
The annual overhaul tiers are ready -- well-stocked with offseason priorities for each team to get better over the next six months.
Time for a major rebuild
New coach taking control
Time to reassess
Stuck in QB purgatory
Comfortable despite losing season
On the right track (mostly)
Need a postseason breakthrough
Still serious contenders