Every team has painstakingly made a list of wants this holiday season. Some teams have simple ones such as a particular player in the draft, or the hope for no injuries. Other teams have very complex hopes and dreams for the future. Here’s a look NFL Christmas Wishlists.
AFC East Christmas Wishlists:
New England Patriots: A full healthy roster going into the playoffs
The Patriots have all but locked up a place in the playoffs. At this point in the season, the Patriots need to lick their wounds and make sure everyone is healthy going into the playoffs. If the Patriots are to win their seventh Super Bowl, they need all hands on deck and a fully healthy roster. Without a fully healthy roster, the Patriots would likely be outmanned by the Ravens, Texans, and Chiefs.
Buffalo Bills: The AFC East crown
Buffalo still has a viable path towards a first-round bye. They need the Patriots to lose to the Chiefs on Sunday as well as lose at home to Buffalo in their rematch in Week 16. The Bills would have a much easier time going deeper in the playoffs if they were able to play at home as opposed to making a difficult trip to Kansas City or Houston.
New York Jets: Consistency
The Jets have been the Jekyll and Hyde team of the NFL this season. Two weeks ago, they blew out a playoff-hopeful team in Oakland. Last week, the Jets were run out of the stadium against a winless Bengals team. While the Jets have a pair of wins against teams who are in the playoff hunt, they have also lost to two teams who were winless at the time. Moving forward, the Jets need to find some semblance of consistency.
Miami Dolphins: Commitment to the Brian Flores system & losses by the Steelers and Texans
The Dolphins have three wishes for Christmas. The major wish for Miami is that the players continue to buy into the Brian Flores system. This season, the Dolphins have been dragged by members of the media for their lackluster play. However, the Dolphins are a hard-working group of players who have been able to grind out wins against the Colts, Eagles, and Jets. The players must continue to work hard for Coach Flores so that he may have success in the future.
The Dolphins also hope that the Texans and Steelers lose multiple times in the last few weeks. The Dolphins own both first-round picks of the Texans and the Steelers. If the Texans or Steelers were able to advance deep into the playoffs, the picks would be devalued quickly.
AFC North Christmas Wishlists:
Baltimore Ravens: No coal from divisional foes
The Ravens are on the precipice of winning their second consecutive division title. While it is unlikely that they choke away the division crown, the Ravens have a decent likelihood of losing home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they stumble over the Browns and/or Steelers in the final two weeks of the season. The Ravens need to knock off the Bills and Jets before worrying about the AFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers: A playoff berth
Almost everything has gone wrong for the Steelers this season. They lost their number one quarterback, number one running back, and number one wide receiver. Despite the setbacks, the Steelers have found success on the defensive side of the ball. Minkah Fitzpatrick has blossomed into a Defensive Player of the Year-level player at safety. If the Steelers were able to make the playoffs, hopes would be high in 2020 as Ben Roethlisberger returns.
Cleveland Browns: A miracle
The Browns sit two games outside of the playoffs in the AFC. They would require a divine intervention to make the playoffs. The Browns have to win out and hope that the Titans and Steelers lose three times to make the playoffs. The Browns are not eliminated from playoff contention, but they are unlikely to make the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals: A 1-15 season
The Bengals escaped the grasp of ineptitude with the win over the Jets. However, the Bengals trimmed their lead on the Joe Burrow sweepstakes to just one game over the Giants. While the Giants would not draft Burrow, they would be a threat to trade down and let a quarterback-needy team draft over the Bengals. The Bengals must continue to play terrible football so that they may acquire the future Heisman Trophy winner.
AFC South Christmas Wishlists:
Houston Texans: A first-round bye
The Texans beat two of their three major foes in the AFC playoff picture. A first-round bye would do a lot for the confidence of Deshaun Watson and company. The Texans currently stand two games out of a first-round bye, but they hold a tiebreaker over the Patriots. The Patriots have two potential losses on their schedule with the Chiefs and Bills, so the Texans must hope that the Patriots lose both of those games accompanied by a four-game winning streak to end the season for the Texans.
Tennessee Titans: A sweep of the Texans
The Titans are currently out of the playoffs based on a tiebreaker. However, they could get around the Steelers by winning the division over the Texans. The Texans and Titans square up twice in the final three weeks of the regular season. It is critical that the Titans win both matchups to secure a home playoff game. Any losses to the Texans could keep the Titans out of the playoffs.
Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck to come back in 2020
The Colts have great personnel outside of the quarterback position. With all due respect to Jacoby Brissett, Brissett is no more than an average starter in the NFL. He generally won’t lose you games, but he cannot go out and win games like Andrew Luck could. The presence of Andrew Luck would put the Colts in a better position.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Losses by the Rams
The Jaguars own the Rams’ first-round pick. To maximize the pick, Jacksonville needs the Rams to lose as many games as possible down the stretch. While Jalen Ramsey hasn’t been as good as advertised in Los Angeles, the Jaguars could get a huge victory if the Rams were to miss the playoffs and give the Jaguars a second pick inside the top 20.
AFC West Christmas Wishlists:
Kansas City Chiefs: A fully healthy Patrick Mahomes
The defense has played significantly better in recent weeks, but the real engine of the Chiefs is Patrick Mahomes. If the former MVP returns to his MVP play, the Chiefs should be unstoppable if the defense plays well. The Chiefs have an outside look at a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They have an opportunity to defeat the Patriots on Sunday.
Oakland Raiders: Losses by the Bears
The Raiders own the Bears’ first-round pick this season. The Raiders hope that the Bears will continue to underperform and underachieve and miss the playoffs.
Denver Broncos: Drew Lock to play well
Drew Lock tossed a pair of touchdowns to Cortland Sutton in his NFL debut. He also led a clutch game-winning drive with the game tied late. Lock could have been better, but it was impressive to see his poise against Los Angeles. The Broncos need to figure out if Lock has enough upside to warrant him starting the 2020 season.
Los Angeles Chargers: A replacement for Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers was not terrible against the Broncos, but he has been consistently off this season. The replacement for Rivers could come through the draft or free agency, but the Chargers need to have a contingency plan in place for the washed-up veteran.
NFC East Christmas Wishlists:
Dallas Cowboys: A win over the Eagles
It is simple in Dallas. If they defeat the Eagles, they will most likely be NFC East champions. Dallas still has great personnel on both sides of the football, and they would be a tough out in the playoffs regardless of the opponent. Dallas has struggled to beat teams that are above .500 this season, but they have the talent to be able to pull off an upset in the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles: A win over the Cowboys
The Eagles are in an identical situation to the Cowboys. With the talent on the roster, the Eagles would be tough to beat in January. The Eagles must beat the Cowboys so they have a shot in the NFC East playoff race. The Eagles face the easier schedule moving forward, but they have a must-win game Week 16.
Washington Redskins: A miracle
The Redskins are not technically eliminated from the NFC East race as they are just three games behind the Cowboys. While the Redskins would require the Cowboys to lose all four of their games and the Eagles lose three of their last four, the Redskins do have a slight chance of making the playoffs. The Redskins would likely be destroyed by whomever they would play in the wildcard round, but it would be quite the accomplishment for the Redskins to slip their way into the playoffs after starting a dismal 1-9.
New York Giants: Enough losses to fire Pat Shurmur without hurting Daniel Jones’s future
Pat Shurmur has been atrocious in East Rutherford, New Jersey. He has won just 25% of his games through 28 coaching appearances with the Giants. Despite flashes of brilliance from Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley over the last two seasons, the Giants struggle to win games in large part due to Shurmur’s incompetence. The ideal scenario for the Giants is that Jones and Barkley play well but the Giants still lose so that Shurmur is kicked to the side after the season.
NFC North Christmas Wishlists:
Green Bay Packers: Takeaways
The Packers have had a very opportunistic defense in 2019. When they can force turnovers and get to the quarterback, they can beat just about anyone. However, the defense has been weak in terms of allowing yards, so they can be exploited. Takeaways and sacks make the defensive job significantly easier, so the playmakers on the Green Bay defense need to step up for the Packers to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings: The NFC North title
Unlike Green Bay who plays outdoors, the Vikings would have a tremendous advantage in playing home games in the playoffs. The Vikings currently sit one game behind the Packers in the playoff picture, but they have the opportunity to tie and surpass the Packers if they can win the majority of their last few games. While playoff Kirk Cousins has generally been poor, the Vikings would have an easier time winning at home rather than on the road in New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, or Green Bay.
Chicago Bears: Losses by the Vikings and Rams
Bears currently sit two games out of the playoffs as the Vikings will succeed. Sandwiched in between the Bears and the Vikings are the Rams. While the Bears could hold the tiebreaker over the Vikings, the Rams own the tiebreaker over the Bears, so the Bears require the Rams to lose a couple of extra games down the stretch. While this season has been chalked up as a failure for the Bears, a hot December could flip the fortunes of the franchise. If the defense plays well, and Mitchell Trubisky decides to play like the number two overall pick, the Bears could be a dangerous out in the playoffs if they were to make it.
Detroit Lions: A healthy Matthew Stafford in 2020
The Lions can throw the 2019 season into the trash. Despite a solid start with two wins and a tie from their first three games, the Lions have reached terminal velocity on their fall into a chasm. Their only hope is to have a healthy roster for the 2020 season so that the team might be able to compete again.
NFC South Christmas Wishlists:
New Orleans Saints: No injuries in December
The Saints have already locked up the NFC South crown for their third consecutive season. At this point, the Saints cannot afford to sustain any injuries as the margin of error in the NFC is virtually zero as the 49ers come to town in Week 14 and both Seattle and San Francisco have 10 wins to match the Saints. The Saints currently hold the number one seed in the NFC, but a loss in any of their final four games could spell disaster for Drew Brees and the Saints.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A turnover-resistant Jameis Winston in 2020
The Buccaneers can move on to 2020 as they have been virtually eliminated from the NFC playoffs. Jameis Winston is showing flashes of what he could’ve been as a former number one overall pick in the draft, but he needs to sustain consistency down the stretch. While the Buccaneers have a little hope of making the playoffs, four strong games from Jameis Winston could preserve his job. The Buccaneers either need Winston to play very well down the stretch or to play poorly down the stretch so that they may take a new direction if necessary. The worst situation would be mediocre play from Winston which could earn him another year in Tampa, delaying a potential rebuild.
Carolina Panthers: A quarterback not named Kyle Allen
Kyle Allen sucks. He is a backup level quarterback, and he is not fit to start NFL games. While he is the best option at the Panthers have right now, the Panthers will be looking for any sort of relief in the off-season or through the draft. Do not be surprised if the Panthers are quick to pick up a free agent or trade up in the draft to select a quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons: A whole new defense
The Falcons offense is perfectly fine, but the defense is an absolute mess. Dan Quinn will likely be fired in the off-season, and the defense will have another set of eyes watching over it. The defense has been terrible during the season, and it must improve at the Falcons want to make a playoff push in 2020.
NFC West Christmas Wishlists:
Seattle Seahawks: A win over the 49ers
All Seattle needs to finish the season is a win over the 49ers. If they’re able to beat the 49ers, they will likely be the champions of the NFC West, and they will likely receive a first-round bye. The one seed is still available for the Seahawks, but they would need New Orleans to lose as well.
San Francisco 49ers: A win over the Seahawks
Unlike the Seahawks, the 49ers control their destiny with regards to the number one seed in the NFC. If the 49ers win their final four games, they will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. While the final four games are a significant challenge, the 49ers have been battle-tested against teams such as the Packers, Seahawks, and Ravens. The 49ers must start their track towards the number one seed by beating the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams: A Minnesota choke
The Rams are only one game behind the Vikings in the quest for the final NFC playoff spot. The Vikings still have a handful of tough games left on their schedule, so the Rams have a solid chance of making the playoffs. The Vikings need to just lose one game for the Rams to tie and potentially beat them on a tiebreaker.
Arizona Cardinals: No injuries to Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray is the future in Glendale, and the Cardinals must avoid any injuries to their golden goose. While much of the rest of the team is expendable, Murray is a once-in-a-decade prospect. The Cardinals cannot afford to lose him. In next year’s draft, the Cardinals will likely look to supply Murray within an effective offensive line. They will also add pieces defense so that the Cardinals do not have to score 55 points per game to be competitive.
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