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Which Last Place Team ( AFC) in 2018 Makes the Playoffs in 2019

by Michael Stewart on May. 28, 2019

Introduction: Eight teams finished in last place in their respective division in 2018 and that got me to thinking; which two teams from the AFC & NFC conference has the best chance to make the playoffs in 2019. This is not an omission that any of the eight teams will make the playoffs in 2019, just a assumption that perhaps one team from each conference might have a chance based on off season moves and strength of schedule. This week we’ll breakdown the AFC teams from each division and next week we’ll take a look at the NFC conference.  

AFC

East:

New York Jets: The New York Jets finished at 3-13 in 2018 and with the new hiring of Head Coach Adam Gase, and a division that only has one quality team in the New England Patriots; the Jets could have the best chance to make the playoffs in 2019. Below are some key factors.

  • Opposing teams in 2019 had an overall record in 2018 of 120-134-1; which ranks #1 in terms of worse winning percentage.
  • Jets have added running Back Le’Von Bell and Linebacker C.J Mosley in free agency and drafted Defensive Tackle Quinnen Williams 3rd overall in the 2019 draft.
  • A full season under his belt, Quarterback Sam Darnold is primed for a breakout season.

Verdict: Among the four teams that finished in last place in 2018, the Jets seem to have the best chance to make the playoffs with all the moves they made. The biggest key for this team will be how well new Head Coach Adam Gase can transition 2nd year Quarterback Sam Darnold into a legitimate top tier signal caller.

North:

Cincinnati Bengals: The Cincinnati Bengals finished at 6-10 in 2018 and are in a midst of many changes; which is lead by the departure of Marvin Lewis. New Head Coach Zac Taylor will have a chance to mold a team that fits his style of coaching. Below are key some factors.

  • Opposing teams in 2019 had a combined record of 120-134-2 in 2018; which ranked 3rd worse in terms of winning percentage.
  • New Head Coach in 2019 (Zac Taylor) replaced long time Head Coach Marvin Lewis.
  • Drafted Offensive Guard Jonah Williams 19th overall in the 2019 draft.

Verdict: The Bengals seem to have the most adjustments to make in 2019; which should include moving on from Andy Dalton at Quarterback. The team does have some talent on both sides of the ball, but not enough to make the playoffs in 2019.

South:

Jacksonville Jacguars: The Jacksonville Jaguars finished last their division with a 5-11 record. They arguably play in a toughest division than the other last place teams on this list with Houston, Colts and Texas all finishing with winning records in 2018. Below are some key factors.

  • Opposing teams in 2019 had a record of 136-120 overall in 2018
  • Drafted OLB Josh Allen 7th overall in the 2019 and Offensive Tackle Jawaan Taylor in the 2nd round.
  • Signed Quarterback Nick Foles in free agency to replace Quarterback Blake Bortes.

Verdict: On paper, the Jaguars have the best talent among the last place teams on this list. However; as I mentioned above, they also play in the toughest division. The Jaguars have a chance to make some noise if they can have a winning record within their division and if the defense plays to their 2017 form.

West:

Oakland Raiders: The Oakland Raiders record in 2018 was 4-12 and dead last in their division. The Raiders have certainly improved the roster with their off season moves, but with Kansas City and Los Angeles (Chargers) in the same division, that’s possibly four losses already penciled in. Below are some key factors.

  • Opposing teams in 2019 had a combined record of 137-117-2 in 2018.
  • Traded for wide receiver Antonio Brown.
  • Drafted Defensive End Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnatan Abrams in the 1st round of the 2019 draft.

Verdict: Despite all the additions GM Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden have made, the Raiders still seem to be in a transition phase and all the new faces assembled need to gel and develop into productive players. Raiders will more than likely finish last again in the west and possibly have a top 5 pick in the 2020 draft.

Final Thoughts: It boils down to two teams in my opinion and they are the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both teams have talent on the roster with the Jaguars having the most among the two teams, but also have a tougher schedule than the Jets in 2019. The Jets will have a new Head Coach (Adam Gase) and no GM at the moment and that could be the deciding factor to determine which team makes the playoffs.

Final Verdict: Despite having the toughest schedule than the Jets and playing in a tougher division, I believe the Jacksonville Jaguars have the best chance to get back to the playoffs in 2019. There defense is already a top tier unit and the addition of Quarterback Nick Foles will make a huge difference in tight games. Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars