Every year in the NFL there a few teams that rise up and enter the playoffs. The question is are they built to last or will they regress and find their losing ways again. So the question is who will slip out of the playoffs or back below .500 win percentage. These are the teams to quote Soul 2 Soul will go “Back to life, back to reality”…
The Kansas City Chiefs
Under Andy Reid the Chiefs came from the bottom almost to the top. In any other division in the AFC they would have been champs. Unfortunately they had to settle for a wild card berth because they couldn’t beat the Broncos. Giving up one the biggest leads in playoff history to the Colts the Chiefs will be back but will not be 11-5. Expect them to be more around 8-8. Alex Smith will be forced to do more as teams will load up against Jamal Charles in the run game. Also the offensive line is almost completely new and the loss of Pro Bowler Brandon Albert on the line will be especially painful. A schedule that includes the 49ers, Seahawks, Steelers, Patriots and 2 games against the Broncos and Chargers are not doing the Chiefs any favors either.
The Carolina Panthers
The Panthers surged all the way to the division title last year. They are about to learn why the NFC South has never had a repeat division champion. With Cam Newton starting the season off hurting the team is already at a detriment. The organization has never addressed the issue of no real receivers to depend on. They drafted Kelvin Benjamin this year but rookie wide receivers rarely have an immediate impact. Their defense is still strong and will keep them in games but they are facing a Saints team that is a contender and a much improved Falcons team in their division. They have a four week stretch where they play the Bengals, Packers, Seahawks and Saints. There will be some growing pains for “Riverboat” Ron Rivera’s team.
The Philadelphia Eagles
The genius of Chip Kelly will get tested this season. Now that his offense has been around a full NFL film cycle let’s see how the defensive coordinators around the league prepare for his up tempo attack. Will Nick Foles be able to avoid the sophomore slump? He like Kelly now has a full body of work on tape that competitors can use to prepare. Although the Eagles may have one of if not the best running back in the league they did lose one of most explosive offensive weapons in the NFL when DeSean Jackson left to play with in the division. He will play for a Redskins team that has a new and better offensive mind calling the plays and healthy RGIII under center. Their next four games are against the Colts, Redskins, 49ers and Rams. The team probably won’t win the division this year but will be in the hunt late due to the mediocrity that surrounds them in the NFC East.
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr