In the NFL, it’s hard to stay on top forever.
The last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls was the New England Patriots in 2004-2005.
Before them, it was the Dallas Cowboys back in 1993-1994.
Needless to say, even if you’re a perennial playoff team, it doesn’t mean you’re destined for the championship every season.
Whether it be a head coaching change, roster turnover, or the improvement of teams in your division, there are countless reasons as to how a playoff team could fall off the wagon.
These two franchises have been staples of the NFL playoffs in recent memory.
However, with a shaky start to the offseason, they seem doomed for regression in the 2021-22 NFL season.
2. New Orleans Saints
So far, there have been mediocre results.
Winston is a former Pro Bowler who attempted just 11 passes behind Brees last season.
In 2019, Winston’s last year as a starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he threw for 5,109 yards and a 33/30 TD/INT ratio on a 60.7 percent completion rate.
Hill on the other hand has been a gadget weapon for the Saints since entering the league in 2017, playing all over the field as quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end.
As a quarterback, Hill has appeared in 53 games, starting 17 and has completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 1,047 yards and a 4/3 TD/INT ratio.
Hill has scored 30 touchdowns as a rusher/receiver but as a quarterback, has only attempted 134 passes at the NFL level.
Both have their pros and cons; Winston has the experience but has been erratic, Hill is more versatile but inexperienced under center.
However, any quarterback following Brees was going to be a downgrade and it’s easy to see the Saints offense struggling because of it.
Speaking of the Saints offense, it appears there is some bad blood brewing between Thomas and New Orleans front office.
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) August 9, 2021
After suffering an ankle injury last season, the Saints recommended Thomas undergo surgery.
Instead, he opted for the rest and rehab method.
Thomas’ idea didn’t work and he is now poised to miss an extended period of time to start the 2021 season.
Whatever problems are going on between Thomas and the Saints, it’s hard to see the former All-Pro receiver being cut or released.
However, Thomas not only being on the shelf but potentially having a gripe with his own franchise is not a good sign as New Orleans enters the post Brees-era.
If the season started as of this writing, New Orleans would have 11 new players in their starting lineup.
With so much turmoil and change inside the franchise, it’s hard to see the Saints earning the number two seed in the NFC playoffs again this year.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended the year by losing four of their last five games, including a loss to the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the playoffs.
There’s no denying the Steelers’ defensive talent as they finished last season with the third lowest yards allowed at 4,893.
Their 312 points allowed also finished third-lowest in the NFL.
While the defense isn’t necessarily in question here, Pittsburgh did allow linebacker Bud Dupree to walk and sign a contract with the Tennessee Titans.
Furthermore, it appears as if T.J. Watt, a former All-Pro who led the league with 15 sacks last year might hold out as he awaits a new contract.
Keith Butler acknowledges that TJ Watt isn’t practicing because he has yet to sign his contract.
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 7, 2021
Despite their linebacking problems, the Steelers’ 2021 downfall will come by way of their offense.
It shouldn’t be running back either as Pittsburgh made former Alabama star Najee Harris the first tailback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft at pick No. 24.
As for offensive line, that’s a whole other story.
Heading into the 2021 season, Pro Football Focus ranked the Steelers as having the second worst offensive line the NFL behind only the New York Giants:
“The Steelers enter 2021 with big question marks all over the place, and their offensive line looks like a bottom-tier unit unless players develop across the board.”
No matter how talented the new running back may be, Harris won’t be able to perform behind a weak offensive line.
Looking around the AFC North, the Browns and Ravens have their long term starter at quarterback in Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson; the Cincinnati Bengals look like they could have a future star in Joe Burrow.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t necessarily look bad last season (3,803 yards with a 33/10 TD/INT ratio), but he is going to have to be on his game to outshine the division’s opposing quarterbacks.
Pittsburgh’s defense might help them sneak into the Wild Card, but unless the Steelers outperform at numerous offensive positions, it’s hard to see them being continuing as one of the best teams in the NFL.