Oh what a season it was for the NFL. With the 2017 NFL Regular Season now completed, some fanbases find themselves in pure and unadulterated euphoria while others find themselves sitting alone, rocking themselves to sleep at night wondering what could and should have been for their team in 2017.
While the league did have more than a few surprises this season in terms of teams we thought were bad but were actually good, there was also more than a few major let downs. Going into a bit more detail on this, let’s take a look at the biggest underachievers from the 2017 NFL Season.
Dallas Cowboys — Pre-Season Super Bowl Odds: 12-1
Playing with a rookie quarterback and running back last season, the Dallas Cowboys were one of the biggest surprises last season when they made the playoffs in 2016. However, the surprise was not just the fact that the ‘Boys made the playoffs, but the fact that they just plain dominated teams on their way to the postseason.
Entering 2017, Dallas was seen as one of the top Super Bowl favorites and was once again expected to cruise right into the playoffs. However, a rocky start to the campaign paired with the midseason suspension of Ezekiel Elliott ended the ‘Boys shot at once again making the offseason showdown.
While many fans may point to the suspension of Elliott as the reason why the team missed the playoffs, the truth is that Dallas underperformed all season long. Going 6-4 with Elliott in the backfield this season, the Cowboys just didn’t have it this year and will once again enter the offseason in limbo as to how they should proceed into next season.
Oakland Raiders — Pre-Season Super Bowl Odds: 12-1
Making the playoffs last season, this seemed like it would the year that the Raiders would take the next step and make a deep playoff run. Alas, it was not to be. Derek Carr struggled mightily this season in the turnover department. The defense in Oakland was atrocious for most of the campaign. Overall, it was a year to forget for the Raiders.
The only saving grace of this campaign may now be that Oakland is being strongly linked to former head coach Jon Gruden. However, depending on your view, this may be more of a curse than a silver lining. To each his own.
Green Bay Packers — Pre-Season Super Bowl Odds: 15-2
Starting the season as a red hot favorite in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers went 4-1 to open the campaign. However, the season in Green Bay quickly came apart once the team lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone during their Week 6 loss in Minnesota. Losing their star player, the Packers defincisies quickly became exposed.
Lacking the fire power on offense to move the football without their star player, the Packers settled into an average state. Going 3-4 with Brett Hundley as the starting quarterback, the Packers had backed themselves into a corner by the time Rodgers was ready to return.
Showing many folks across the NFL their many deficiencies on both sides of the ball, the Packers now know that they have some major issues on this roster. While the team could easily rebound next season, questions will need to be asked about how this team can improve going forward.
Miami Dolphins — Pre-Season Super Bowl Odds: 50-1
While many in the national media were not that high on the Miami Dolphins, almost the entire fan base and local media had a different view of this team. Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2008, the Dolphins looked set to not only challenge for another playoff spot but also for the division title.
However, following the loss of Ryan Tannehill for the entire season, the air was quickly sucked out of the Dolphins sails. Going 6-10 while also losing eight of their final ten games this season, the Dolphins look set to enter another rebuilding phase, much to the chagrin of their fan base.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Pre-Season Super Bowl Odds: 33-1
What should have been. Entering the 2017 season, more than a few people sar the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a dark horse to not only make the playoffs but contend for the division crown in the NFC South. However, it didn’t take long for these predictions to come off the rails and be proven totally wrong.
Suffering two long losing streaks of five and six games this season, the Bucs fell apart in more ways than one. Losing Jameis Winston for multiple games this season due to injury, the Bucs felt the injury bug’s grasp across most of their roster. Combine this with a complete lack of quality depth and it it no wonder why the team struggled in 2017.
New York Giants — Pre-Season Super Bowl Odds: 22-1
Of all the fanbases in the NFL, none were more disappointed with their teams 2017 performance than those that follow the New York Giants. Going 3-13 this season, the Giants may have been the biggest disappointment this season.
Expected to have a good to great defense as well as a rising offense, the Giants could do nothing right this season. Perhaps though, the biggest issue with this team was not the players, but the head coach. Making the extremely unpopular decision to bench Eli Manning midway through the campaign, Ben McAdoo was soon fired by the organization.
With Eli entering the twilight period of his career, the Giants look like they will be entering a rebuilding phase this offseason. Add in the fact that the Cowboys and Eagles are both young and great and it could be a while before the Giants find themselves back in the playoff chase.