At this point of the NFL offseason, every team in the league has dreams of improving on their 2020 campaign.
Some franchises have added exciting new rookies into the mix to infuse their roster with talent.
Others have brought on tested veterans who know what to do in clutch situations.
Coaching staffs have been re-made, offensive and defensive philosophies adjusted, and lingering ailments have had time to heal.
With all that being said, it’s inevitable that certain teams will have their 2021 season completely fall off the rails for one reason or another.
A lack of skill, an onslaught of injuries, and poor coaching decisions could all factor into their struggles.
Let’s take a look at three teams whose seasons might actually be over before they ever start.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
On paper, there’s an awful lot to like about the direction the Cincinnati Bengals are headed in.
They’ve got a ton of young talent across the board on offense, and have spent money in free agency the past two years to help improve their defense.
Despite all of the promise surrounding the team, they’re probably a year away from being able to involve themselves in the AFC playoff mix.
The AFC North is arguably the most difficult division in the NFL, as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens all qualified for postseason play in 2020.
There’s no reason to believe that those three teams will take a step back this season, either.
In addition, recent history has shown us that it can take a full season for a quarterback who suffered a debilitating knee injury to fully recover.
Reports of Burrow’s progress have been exceedingly positive, but it’s more likely he fully regains the form he showed last year in the second half of this season.
The Bengals will likely post another moribund record this year due to these factors, but should be excited for what 2022 can bring.
Good week for the Bengals pic.twitter.com/yaph1zscod
— Joey Burrow (@JoeyB) December 25, 2020
2. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions took emphatic strides to build for their future this offseason.
It was probably the right move, as Stafford was at the helm of the franchise for 12 seasons, and the team only made the playoffs in three of those years.
The blockbuster trade may help restack the deck to retool the roster, but this upcoming season is likely going to be an arduous one.
Detroit also elected not to bring back Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay, which leaves their pass catching corps bereft of much talent.
Come their annual Thanksgiving Day home game, the Lions might be well on their way to locking down the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
First-time head coach Dan Campbell is well respected as a motivator, and will likely have his team playing hard.
However, there’s just too much to overcome for them to contend in 2021.
Welcome Dan Campbell❗️
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 20, 2021
3. Houston Texans
At long last, we get to the franchise who probably holds the mantle as the most dysfunctional in the NFL today.
The Houston Texans have had a tumultuous year and change.
Earlier this year, Houston legend J.J. Watt requested his release from the team, in hopes of pursuing a Super Bowl elsewhere.
For most teams, losing two players of that stature would be enough of a gut punch to a franchise.
However, the uncertain status of quarterback Deshaun Watson throws Houston’s current and future fortunes completely into flux.
Even if Watson is not suspended for most or all of the 2021 season due to ongoing legal matters, he demanded to be traded before the off-field issues came to light.
This keeps the team in limbo for at least a couple more months as they decide whether it’s worth keeping the franchise quarterback, and other teams think over what they’d be willing to give up for him.
Recent days have featured successful civilian space travel, but Houston definitely still has a problem when it comes to their football team.