Seven NFL teams that made the postseason in 2021 failed to return this season. It's a list that includes the Super Bowl LVI champion Rams, the 1-seeds in both conferences -- the Packers and Titans -- and seemingly annual attendees in the Patriots and Steelers, along with the Raiders and Cardinals. If we include the Oilers as Tennessee's predecessor, the last time the Titans, Packers and Patriots missed the postseason in the same year was 1984. It has been a minute.
There's nothing those teams can do about this postseason, but what about their chances of making it back in 2023? Let's go through each of those seven and rank their likelihood of making it back to the playoffs. I'll start with the least likely team and work my way to the most likely.
There are still a lot of decisions that could affect what happens next for each of these organizations. Some don't yet have head coaches or coordinators. Others are likely to make a change at quarterback. I've laid out the possibilities for what they could do at key positions this offseason, but these estimations are based on the most likely scenario for all seven.
There's a large gap between the team in seventh and every other team. If you're a head-coaching candidate getting calls from a 602 number, consider this free advice:
Jump to a team:
Cardinals | Packers
Patriots | Raiders
Rams | Steelers | Titans
7. Arizona Cardinals (4-13)
It's bleak. The Cardinals have no head coach. The organization just hired new general manager Monti Ossenfort, but star quarterback Kyler Murray might not be ready to start next season after he tore his right ACL in December. Four of Arizona's five starting linemen are free agents, as are top cornerback Byron Murphy and breakout defensive lineman Zach Allen. Hall of Fame defensive end J.J. Watt retired, while star wideout DeAndre Hopkins has been the subject of trade rumors. Just a normal offseason for a first-time general manager.
Several weeks ago, I wrote at length about the Cardinals' roster and how it has been mismanaged by years of shortsighted decisions and misguided draft picks. Little has changed since then: Whomever takes this job is going to face a difficult short-term future, especially if Murray is out for a significant portion of the season.
The best thing for the Cardinals to do? Blow things up and start over while hoping to build a more sustainable offensive infrastructure around Murray in 2024 and beyond. Trading Hopkins, wideout Marquise Brown and safety Budda Baker would net much-needed draft capital to replenish the roster, while a reset would allow the team to clean up its cap after using voidable years to create short-term space in seasons past. Arizona is not one great offseason away from seriously contending in the NFC. This team needs surgery, not Band-Aids.