Insiders

All Each NFL Team Wants For Christmas Is…

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It’s the holiday season, and that means it’s time to make lists, go shopping and grant wishes for a better new year.

Here at Football Insiders, we’re in a giving mood, and seeing as every NFL team is looking for something this time of year, be it a playoff spot, prime postseason seeding, more talent, a high draft pick, or maybe just one win to make 2016 feel better, we figured it was the perfect time to take stock of the needs of all 32 teams and grant each one just one Christmas wish. So without further adieu, here is our Christmas wish list for each National Football League team.

CLEVELAND BROWNS – The Browns take the field on Saturday afternoon after just one thing, that elusive win so they don’t end the season as a 0-16 punchline. Plenty of teams have gone 1-15, but it’s hard to live down a winless season. All they want for Christmas is to avoid that fate.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – It’s been a tough year San Francisco, but that can’t be an unexpected thing for the franchise with the least talent in the league. Since a surprising opening week shutout of the Rams, the Niners have lost 13 straight. They play those same Rams on Saturday afternoon, but with draft position on the line, San Fran will be hoping for a loss, and the highest draft picks they can get under their tree to improve a weak roster in 2017.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – This was supposed to be a turnaround season for the Jags, coming off five straight seasons of 5-11 or worse, with a talented roster contention was supposed to be around the corner. Instead, they’ve endured one of the worst seasons in franchise history and dismissed their coach. So what the Jags need more than anything for Christmas is some direction and a path to finally righting the ship, as soon as possible.

CHICAGO BEARS – It’s been an odd year for the Bears. No one expected them to contend, but they’ve been surprisingly competitive, especially in the last several weeks, since Matt Barkley took over at quarterback. But what Chicago needs, and has needed for a long time is some consistency. They can look no further than the current heroes of their city, the Chicago Cubs, for an idea of what that looks like and how well building from the ground up works.

NEW YORK JETS (4-10) – This one almost seems too easy. The saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you actually have no quarterbacks, but what if you have four? New York has plenty of needs, but they have to figure out a definitive plan under center this offseason and get themselves a quarterback for the long haul if they have any hope of competing soon. It’s a lofty Christmas wish, but one worth making for the Jets.

LOS ANGELES RAMS – What if you moved a team few cared about to begin with from St. Louis to the buzzing metropolis of Los Angeles, invested a ton of capital in a new quarterback, put the plans in place for a new stadium, promised a bright future and nobody cared? That’s the dilemma the Rams are facing this Christmas. They need something to make people care about them in Los Angeles. Maybe it’s a big name coach or player, but they’ve got to find something or this marriage of city and team will continue to march toward doom.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS  The 2016 Chargers are one of the NFL’s great tragedies. They have a talented roster, a big name quarterback and they’re a competitive team, but they just can’t get out of their own way. When they’re not watching half their roster go down to injury, they’re shooting themselves in the foot en route to a backbreaking loss. Yet still, if they were in the AFC South instead of the AFC West, they might be a playoff team. So all the Chargers want this Christmas is a chance to compete at full strength against teams on their level.

ARIZONA CARDINALS  Wasn’t this supposed to be the year for the Arizona Cardinals? Coming off an NFC Championship Game appearance, Arizona loaded up and then fell flat, by far the league’s biggest disappointment in 2016. And all Bruce Arians and his team would like is an explanation for what the heck happened and how they can get back to competitive football in 2017. We’re owed one too, to be honest. What happened to you, Arizona?

CINCINNATI BENGALS – For the first time in six years, the Bengals are going to miss the playoffs, but by falling woefully short of expectations in 2016, Cincinnati has given themselves a chance to grant their own Christmas wish, all they need to do is find the guts to finally fire head coach Marvin Lewis and start anew. It’s been 14 years and the guy hasn’t won a playoff game in seven tries. Time’s up. Move on. This is your chance!

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – The Saints have far and away the most productive offense in the league, but they’re led by a star quarterback whose window is closing fast and a coach who may have a foot out the door. But New Orleans should take one more shot with those two instead of starting over, and what they need to do that is some semblance of a defense to balance things out. They simply have to figure out how to inject a dose of talent on that side of the ball.

CAROLINA PANTHERS – Another one of the league’s more disappointing stories this season, everything has unraveled for Carolina following last year’s Super Bowl loss and everyone seems to be pointing at the quarterback as the one to blame. But what the Panthers need, what they have to be wishing for, for a better 2017 is for Cam Newton to refocus, block out the distractions and get back to playing the way we know he can. The noise clearly got to him this year and that can’t happen.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (6-9) – The 2016 season has been a rollercoaster ride for Philadelphia. After trading their starting quarterback days before the season, the Eagles came out hot behind a rookie quarterback and looked great, but they’ve regressed badly on both sides of the ball since. They still have a lot of talent on defense, and Carson Wentz has serious potential, but what they need now is some skill position talent on offense to help the kid out. Chip Kelly sent every star wideout and running back packing, and Philly is still paying for it. That needs to be fixed this offseason.

BUFFALO BILLS (7-7) – Of all the teams in the league, the Bills are one of the toughest to diagnose because they’re never all that bad, and they’re never very good. They’re kind of just there. Barring a late season miracle Buffalo is going to miss the playoffs for a 17th straight season, and they’ll likely be starting over with another new coach in 2017. So what the Bills are wishing for, other than that two-week miracle, is to find the right path this offseason back to the playoffs.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS – What a year it’s been for the defending NFC North Champions. They watched their quarterback go down to injury, paid a steep price for a new one, started the season 5-0 despite losing their biggest star, but have won just two of nine games since. That makes it pretty clear what the Vikings need for Christmas: a time machine. Whether they use it to go back to 5-0 and figure out a way to stay on track, or they go back further and abort the Sam Bradford trade is completely up to them.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Five years ago, when it was finally time for the franchise to cut ties with Peyton Manning, the Colts were blessed with the good fortune of the ability to draft Andrew Luck. And in the five years since, they’ve completely wasted his talent by not putting any around him. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, a player two dozen teams would kill for and they’ve done nothing to support him. Get some help for Andrew Luck!

WASHINGTON REDSKINS  – Last week’s loss to the Carolina Panthers sent the Redskins spiraling from in control of a playoff spot to likely to miss the playoffs in short order. But while that’s disappointing, Washington can’t allow it to cloud what looks like the brightest future the franchise has had in some time. They simply need to regroup and reload and that starts with an extension for Kirk Cousins because they’re not going to find anybody better to lead the franchise forward over the next few years.

DENVER BRONCOS – It appears John Elway played his cards right this offseason by not forking over a big contract to Brock Osweiler, but it still left his team without a capable quarterback and that is likely going to be what keeps them from the postseason this year. With a defense that is still stout, that’s something they need to fix this offseason. Trevor Siemian is just a guy, and Paxton Lynch isn’t ready yet and may never be. So it’s time for Elway to go shopping and there’s one guy he should be targeting for 2017: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Adding a healthy Romo to this Broncos squad makes them an instant contender to get back to the Super Bowl next season.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS  – The Buccaneers appeared to be on the cusp of something great last Sunday night when they overcame an early deficit to grab the lead over Dallas. But in crunch time, Tampa Bay folded and their young quarterback showed that while supremely talented, he still has a long way to go. So what Tampa is wishing for this Christmas is the continued maturity of Jameis Winston, because the future looks pretty bright and the franchise is in great shape as long as he continues to grow and learn from his mistakes.

TENNESSEE TITANS – Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year in the NFL, a Titans team ticketed for last in the AFC South leaped not only the Jaguars but the Colts as well and are in possible position to win the division over the final two weeks. They’ve gotten more than they could’ve asked for out of the roster they’ve assembled, so a playoff berth and some postseason experience for Marcus Mariota and company this season is what they’re looking for under their tree.

GREEN BAY PACKERS – The Packers have once again bounced back from a troubling start to the season to put themselves in a spot to make the playoffs down the stretch and with the best quarterback in the league, anything is possible if they can just get there. So all Green Bay can wish for this Christmas is the continued good health of a battered and bruised Aaron Rodgers and the opportunity to make a postseason run on his right arm.

BALTIMORE RAVENS – This one is too simple. Everything the Ravens want is in front of them. They’ve improbably rebuilt their defense into one of the league’s best this season and they’ve got a quarterback who turns into a superhero when the postseason begins. But they need to beat the Steelers on Christmas night to get there. An appearance by Playoff Joe Flacco under their tree would certainly help.

HOUSTON TEXANS – The Texans might be the most improbable playoff positioned team in the league. They spent wildly this offseason to upgrade at quarterback and then in Week 15 benched that guy for one they had all along and held on to first place as a direct result. Who knows if Tom Savage is the answer in Houston, probably not. But he’s done one thing Brock Osweiler somehow couldn’t: get DeAndre Hopkins the football and the Texans must keep doing that if they are to finish this season in a playoff spot.

MIAMI DOLPHINS – It’s been eight years since the Dolphins made the playoffs, so, of course, their Christmas wish to get back to the postseason, but do any of us really want to see Matt Moore starting at quarterback against the Steelers or Ravens? What Miami really needs to be hoping for is a combination of factors that nets them a Wild Card round matchup with the Texans. That’s a game the Dolphins can definitively win, even with Moore at quarterback.

DETROIT LIONS – A few weeks ago, the Lions seemed to be in great shape, positioned firmly at the top of the NFC North with a path to the postseason in front of them. But things have started to unravel and they’re suddenly facing the very real possibility of missing the playoffs altogether. Detroit’s Christmas wish must be to avoid that “here we go again mentality” and a complete collapse and just get a win to get in.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS – The Steelers sit in complete control of their own fate entering their Christmas Day matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, able to clinch another AFC North title with a victory, so getting there is atop their Christmas list, but just as important for Pittsburgh is to get to the postseason healthy something that’s been a struggle for them in recent years. Their dynamic offense can make playoff noise, but they need it intact to stand a chance.

ATLANTA FALCONS – It’s been a great year in Atlanta, but questions have started to pop up lately and they all hinge on the health of some key players. They’ve already lost top corner Desmond Trufant for the year, a critical blow, and Adrian Clayborn and Julio Jones are both huge injury question marks as we head toward the postseason. Both are back this week, and the Falcons must first get in, but they too need some good news and good health to compete in January.

NEW YORK GIANTS – There is one remaining scenario that could leave the Giants out of the playoffs after their Thursday night loss to the Eagles, but that would be a complete disaster. Barring that, New York will have a chance to cut a path to the Super Bowl from a Wild Card spot, something they’ve done twice before. To do it one more time, they’ll need some consistency from the quarterback position, which has been lacking in the past few weeks after a strong start to the season from Eli Manning. That has them asking, will the real Eli please stand up?

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – The Chiefs are in great position to make the postseason for a second straight season as a Wild Card and possibly draw the Texans again, a scenario almost as ideal as winning the division outright. But if they get there and get through the first round again, Kansas City will likely draw the New England Patriots in the second round again as well. It’s hard to say they’re better positioned now for that than they were last season. The cast of characters is much the same. So what the Chiefs must hope for is to avoid that deja vu scenario. They need some help to win the division and the No. 2 seed, but they can still get there and that would certainly help.

OAKLAND RAIDERS – It’s up to the Oakland Raiders to hold onto that spot and while it’s hard for Oakland to wish for much more than they’ve gotten in what has been an incredible season for the franchise, a division title and first-round bye are well within their reach. A win this afternoon over the Colts would go a long way toward clinching those spots. The goal in the AFC is to avoid the Patriots for as long as possible and the No. 2 seed can do just that.

DALLAS COWBOYS – Like the Raiders, it’s hard for the Cowboys to wish for much more out of this season than they’ve already gotten, as a rookie fourth-round pick at quarterback has led them to the best record in the NFC. For Dallas now, it’s all about turning this magical season into a Super Bowl run and their best bet to do that come playoff time is a road to the Super Bowl that does not include a rematch with the Giants, the one team that has handled them this season. Dallas will undoubtedly face some postseason challenges regardless, but the New York defense seems to have their number.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – When you’re the best team in the league on an almost perennial basis, and you’re looking at another clear path to the Super Bowl, there’s only one thing you can wish for: a championship. For Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots, that would be one for the thumb and as always in New England, anything less than a season that ends hoisting the Lombardi Trophy can not be considered a success. It’s Super Bowl or bust for the Pats.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys