NFL

What NFL Playoff Teams Need To Do To Advance: Wildcard Round

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Immediately following the regular season, we took a look at what the non-playoff teams from the AFC and NFC needed to do in the offseason to take the next step to the postseason.

Now we’re going to look at some of the playoff teams from this season that didn’t advance to Championship Sunday.

Houston Texans

The Texans season came to a screeching halt in their 30-0 blanking at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wildcard opener.

The biggest area of improvement that’s necessary for Houston is at the quarterback position, where Brian Hoyer had a nice regular season but he’s not good enough to get the team where it needs to be.

They also need a better No. 2 option in the passing game opposite DeAndre Hopkins.  Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts are not legitimate options on the outside and each has struggled with injuries throughout their careers.

It’s likely that the Texans are going to move away from running back Arian Foster so they will need to get another, star quality running back.

Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati did everything but win in their 18-16 meltdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It was head coach Marvin Lewis’ seventh-straight one-and-done.

Unlike most of the playoff losers on this list, the Bengals have a fantastic roster.  They just need to be better in situational football, which falls greatly on the coaching.

There are still questions about if Andy Dalton will be able to not implode in the postseason and we won’t know if those are answered until next January, or beyond.

As far as the roster is concerned, moving away from the talented, yet mentally deficient Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones is a start, but it’s not likely that Lewis will do that.

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were a 27-yard field goal attempt away from knocking off the Seattle Seahawks in the first NFC Wildcard game.

The Vikings need to open up their offense more.  It’s certainly tempting to be a ground and pound team when you have the world’s best running back in Adrian Peterson, but it’s potentially stunting Teddy Bridgewater’s growth.

Minnesota has a nice set of receivers and they can use some help on the offensive line.  Another safety to play opposite Harrison Smith would help and some more depth in the secondary.

The Vikings have a pretty good roster right now, and it remains a mystery whether Bridgewater is a good enough passer to get them to where they need to be.

Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins capped a surprising NFC East championship season with a 35-18 beat-down at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.

Washington took a lot of steps forward as they moved from worst to first in the NFL’s worst division.

To get to the next step, Kirk Cousins will have to play the same brand of football that he did for the final nine games of the season (more than just a small sample size).  Washington has some weapons on the outside, but they should move away from the speedy, yet always troubled DeSean Jackson.

They have a rising star in Jordan Reed, and if the team were to get a legitimate No. 1 receiver they would have one of the most feared passing games in football.

Defensively, Washington can use another pass rusher after letting Brian Orakpo walk in free agency.  They need a complete reconstruction of their secondary, which is not good enough to compete right now.

Next we will look at the playoff losers from the Divisional Round and where they need to improve.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.