Whether they failed to live up to expectations or flat-out stunk, these teams ended the 2019 season without getting a taste of the playoffs. But there are always a couple of teams that bounce back and make a run the following year. The Breakout Live team debates which 2019 duds will get it together and become a contender in 2020.
Senior News & Fantasy Editor
Oh, you’re testing me. Don’t say Cleveland. Don’t say Cleveland. Okay, I’m good. I’m truly over the Browns and able to see clearly on this one. While I believe the Dolphins and Bears have a realistic shot at throwing their hat into the ring, I’ll go with guys wearing 10-gallon hats in Texas.
As unlikable as Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are, it’s hard not seeing them taking the step to full-on contender under Mike McCarthy. The former Packers headmaster took over a 4-12 Packers team in 2005 and took them to 8-8 and then 13-3 the following season. The Cowboys are starting from a base of 8-8, and I can see them taking the same step from 8-8 to 13-3 under McCarthy in year one. A lot of this hinges on re-signing Dak and Amari, but Jerry has never had issues getting stars paid on America’s team. The NFL is better when Dallas is a contender because people love to love them or love to hate them. I’m readying to do the latter.
There are a lot of non-playoff teams with something to look forward to in 2020. The Dolphins improved dramatically and will probably add a franchise quarterback in the draft. The Bengals may very well be adding the next Andrew Luck. The Steelers are getting Big Ben back for another run. The Cowboys have renewed hope with a Super Bowl-winning head coach on the sideline. The Rams and the Bears still have the talent to make the jump.
But I’m going with the Colts. This is a team that started out 5-2 following the shocking preseason retirement of Andrew Luck, before fading down the stretch. And as it turned out, they were playing in a pretty tough division, as both the Texans and Titans racked up postseason wins. I like what Frank Reich has done so far, and Colts are my sleeper for 2020.
The last two years I’ve had the Falcons getting back to the dance, and both years they’ve ripped my heart out. But there’s something to be said for an owner sticking with his head coach and GM after two awful seasons, and I think the combo of talent + continuity will pay dividends for the ATL in 2020. The Steelers and Chargers will also be right there, with Big Ben coming back and Phil Rivers finally sent off to pasture (‘bout time, Chargers!).
Lastly, don’t sleep on Arizona. Their schedule is rough, their D makes me LOL, and they play in the toughest division in the league. But Kyler Murray is the truth and Kliff Kingsbury has proven that his style can translate. In a league where worst-to-first stories happen almost yearly, the Cards are as good a bet as any for 2020.