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

Find out what the teams that lost in the Divisional Round need to do in the offseason to advance farther in 2016.

Charlie Bernstein

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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 fell one game short of Championship Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs

Just when you think the Chiefs are getting close, you realize that they’re not very close at all.  Kansas City lost to the New England Patriots 27-20, in a game that wasn’t nearly as tight as the final score would indicate.

Aside from head coach Andy Reid’s multiple clock follies, the Chiefs need to be more dynamic on offense.  They can use some more depth on the offensive line and more playmakers on the outside.  The offense needs to be tweaked as Alex Smith has a less than average arm and they are limited on deeper routes which makes them much easier to defend.

Defensively, when the Chiefs are healthy they have a legitimate pass rush which helps the secondary which has talented players.  They can use more depth at linebacker and on the defensive line, but they’re not that far away.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Injuries were the main factor that kept the Steelers from advancing to Championship Sunday as they were without Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown and had a banged up Ben Roethlisberger in their 23-16 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Aside from some much-needed injury luck, the Steelers need to improve on all three levels of their defense.  They need to manufacture a pass rush as James Harrison is at the twilight of his career and Bud Dupree is still learning how to play the edge.  Cam Heyward had a nice season, but they need more production from the defensive line.

The Pittsburgh secondary is a complete mess as they don’t have any above average players at cornerback or at safety.

Their offense is dynamic and is enough to carry them a pretty good distance.  They just need a little improvement from the defense to take them the rest of the way.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers played in one of the best games you’ll ever see in their 26-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Although Green Bay nearly advanced, there is plenty of work that needs to be done.

The Packers offense missed Jordy Nelson all year long as their receivers struggled to get separation all year long.  The Green Bay offensive line helped exacerbate this as they suffered injuries which affected Aaron Rodgers.

Defensively, the linebackers need to play better and although they may have found a gem in Mike Daniels, there really isn’t any elite talent on their defensive line.

Of all the teams that advanced to the Divisional Round, one could argue that the Packers had the worst roster (and just happened to have a great quarterback).

Seattle Seahawks

The reign of terror that the Seahawks rained down on the NFC is over, as they were dismissed from the playoffs by the top-seeded Carolina Panthers, 31-24.

It took Seattle nearly half of the regular season to find their proverbial groove this year and in the end it wasn’t enough.

The Seahawks offensive line struggled for much of the season and they need an influx of talent there.  Russell Wilson took his game to another level and having tight end Jimmy Graham back next season will certainly help.

Defensively, the Seahawks were good, but Bobby Wagner had a down season, as well as safety Kam Chancellor.  Seattle struggled against the seam and tight ends tore them apart for much of the year.

Seattle doesn’t need wholesale changes in the offseason, but rather tweaks, as the talent is certainly there to make another Super Bowl run.

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.

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