After the majority of the marquee free agents have signed, and through 1 round of draft picks, we have a pretty good ideas of what NFL starting rosters will look like going into the 2020 season. Some of these teams mentioned were decimated by injury, some hit big in free agency, and some may have found their answers through the draft. Either way, I believe these 6 teams have a great chance to improve upon their 2019-20 seasons.
Miami Dolphins, 5-11, 4th in AFC East
This one is easy, as Miami has already addressed many needs through both free agency and the draft. After a clear tank year, starting Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the Dolphins will be far more competitive in 2020. Adding defensive pieces like Byron Jones and Kyle Van Noy, veterans through free agency, will shore up that side of the ball. Offensively, they addressed QB, RB, and OL with draft picks Tua Tagovailoa and Austin Jackson, and free agent Jordan Howard. In the later rounds of the draft, they were able to find defensive players, and additional offensive lineman to further strengthen. With other minor moves, and in coach Brian Flores’ second season, expect a much better Miami team.
Cincinnati Bengals, 2-14, 4th in AFC North
This one is also no surprise, as the worst team in the NFL last season found their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow. Expect some growing pains, but far better performance than Dalton’s recent years. They also essentially add another top-10 pick in Jonah Williams, who did not play a single snap as a rookie, to their offensive line. With their offensive weapons healthy, specifically Mixon and Green, the addition of wideout Tee Higgins in round two, and a few defensive prospects in the draft, the Bengals will not be in the league’s basement next season.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-8, 2nd in AFC North
The Steelers narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season, despite an elite defense. This defense, led by TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, returns almost every starter for 2020. The wild card will be the offense, and whether it will bounce back this season. They did add a new weapon at both receiver and running back in the draft, with Chase Claypool and Anthony Mcfarland. Ben Roethlisberger’s health is the key, with his play determining this team’s ceiling. If James Conner and Juju are both healthy and performing, this team will seriously contend. Either way, expect the Steelers back in the post season.
Detroit Lions, 3-12-1, 4th in NFC North
The Lions started last year strong, at 2-0-1, but fell off massively after Stafford’s injury. With him healthy, and decent weapons on offense, including 2nd round pick Deandre Swift, that unit should be strong in 2020. The defense has already been upgraded, with cornerback Jeff Okudah in the draft and free agent linebacker Jamie Collins joining forces with coach Matt Patricia, both from New England. Expect this team to be very competitive, be involved in a few shootouts, and probably double their win total.
Arizona Cardinals, 5-10-1, 4th in NFC West
The Cardinals have had quite the offseason already, headlined by the trade for receiver Deandre Hopkins. Letting go of David Johnson will allow Kenyan Drake to get more touches, and this offense could be one of the league’s more explosive. Defensively, there are questions, but adding Isaiah Simmons in the first round is a huge upgrade, wherever he ends up lining up for them. In Kliff Kingsbury’s second year in charge, expect a vastly better Cardinals team.
New York Giants, 4-12, 3rd in NFC East
This team showed a lot of promise last year, despite the poor record. Their offense, now lead by Daniel Jones, showed explosiveness, and should only improve with experience, a healthy Saquon Barkley, and new left tackle Andrew Thomas. Defensively, the add of James Bradberry is huge, as is the 2nd round selection of Xavier Mckinney, as secondary was a main weak point for the Giants. The offensive line, and defense are not perfect, but are certainly improving. With a few defensive picks later in the draft, expect this team to be on the fringe of the wild card spots in 2020.