Dec 29, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Top NFL Contender-To-Clunker Teams For 2014


It’s always fun predicting the NFL teams that go worst-to-first.  So which teams might take the opposite trip in a nosedive towards the #1 pick in 2015?

Arizona Cardinals

Going 10-6 in 2013 validated what Bruce Arians was trying to do for the Arizona Cardinals last season and expectations are even higher for 2014.  Unfortunately that was before their defense, which pretty much carried the load for them most of last season, absorbed two crippling losses.  Both their top inside linebackers, Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington will not play for the team this season.  Dansby left in free agency for Cleveland and Washington is suspended for the year for league violations.  Replacing their productivity will be next to impossible, even with some intriguing additions to the secondary.  Carson Palmer is only getting older at quarterback too.

Kansas City Chiefs

Not only did the team suffer some tough losses in free agency, but now the Kansas City Chiefs are embroiled in a distracting contract dispute with quarterback Alex Smith.  Free agency and the draft came and went and it’s very hard to see how much the Chiefs improved, if at all from where they were last season.  They made a few nice picks in the draft but nothing that has that home run feel to it, something that can vault them over Denver as favorites in AFC West.  Andy Reid did a great job last season for them, but he might not be able to duplicate that magic again in such a tough division.

Carolina Panthers

It was basically the defense and Cam Newton all the way during the 2013 NFL season for the Carolina Panthers.  His individual brilliance and the suffocating front seven led by Luke Kuechly caught a lot of the league by surprise.  While not much difference is expected on the D, head coach Ron Rivera has a problem brewing on offense.  By the look of things Newton still doesn’t have a difference-making group of receivers and his running game is aging and piling up injuries fast.  To top it off Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross retired.  With the NFC South improving by the day, it’s hard to see Carolina staying on top.

Indianapolis Colts

A productive free agency period and decent draft seemed to keep the Indianapolis Colts aimed in the right direction.  After all they still have Andrew Luck and his weaponry has improved somewhat with the addition of Hakeem Nicks and a healthy Reggie Wayne.  However, problems still linger on defense.  Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea is gone.  The cornerback spot was not upgraded and worst of all their best pass rusher Robert Mathis is suspended for the first four games of the year.  A slow start could threaten to unravel a year of high hopes for the Colts, especially given how much Jacksonville and Houston improved.

Tags: Arizona Cardinals Carolina Panthers Indianapolis Colts Kansas City Chiefs NFL

  • trinity

    I think the colts will probably sacrifice a few wins because of the defense, but I still see them winning the weakest division in football. The Texans will have a scary defense, but their quarterback situation is not promising at all. I completely agree about the chiefs. Despite their success last year, I’ve had a hard time taking them seriously. In part because Alex Smith is “leading” the charge, too much hinges on JC at a position where he could easily get hurt, and they have virtually no recievers. I see them 3rd in the division behind Denver and San Diego.

    • Erik Lambert

      Yeah, Luck is a much more reliable factor for the Colts than Smith is for the Chiefs. The defense and running game carried it most of the way for KC last year.

      • trinity

        Definitely. And according to reports, Smith had the nerve to ask for Cutler money. Not that I think Cutler deserves that much money, but Alex deserves it even less. 18 million a year, for a damn game manager. Lol I’m truly appalled at his audacity.

        • Erik Lambert

          Game manager yes. But the audacity comes from the fact he has the same number of playoff wins as Cutler does and he’s younger.

          • trinity

            Which is why I don’t think Cutler, or Romo deserves the money either. In terms of Alex Smith, it took the guy almost 10 years to pass for 20 touchdowns. Over 3000 yards only twice. 220 ypg is the best he’s ever done, only 26% of his passes travel past the first down marker ranking him dead last in the NFL, and the game plan has to be exact and simplified for him. Not too many shots down field, no improvisation, the plays are cherry picked for his limitations, and if he doesn’t like what he sees, just give up on the play. Basically his job is to not screw up and let himself be carried to victory by the defense and run game. To me, the only way he should get 126 million is if he agrees to split it with Jamaal Charles and Andy Reid.

          • Erik Lambert

            Fair points, but the fact of the matter is it’s about leverage. Did the Bears have anybody within striking distance of Cutler’s ability via the draft or free agency? No. Same for the Cowboys. The Chiefs could’ve considered it but they had other holes to fill and Smith knew that, which is why he’s holding out. He might not deserve the money, but that’s part of negotiating. You can do better, but not right now and the NFL is a win-now league.

          • trinity

            That’s actually the biggest difference between Cutler and Alex Smith to me. You’re right, the bears hands were tied. Cutler may not have won anything, but he is mega talented, and there was nobody to match his ability. But Alex Smith….lets say, worst case scenario, this turns into a nightmare. He won’t budge off that demand, and they won’t give it to him so they let him walk. It’s unlikely this will happen, but imagine it. It wouldn’t be entirely positive because he has experience. But in my opinion, it would not be eentirely negative either. Because I don’t think it will take an amazing or even great talent to equal the production of Alex Smith. Get your young guy to try to limit turnovers, nail down the short dumpoff, and look to hand it to jaamal so he can do the work in most cases. And if you get Aaron Murray to do those simple things, boom you have a younger, cheaper Alex Smith. Murray is recovered from his knee injury, and if you check his draft profile, his strength and weaknesses sound almost exactly like Alex Smith. I’m not saying it’s the best option for the team, but it certainly isn’t a horrible option either.

          • Erik Lambert

            If you’re looking for a game manager, you certainly have more options but like it or not, Smith manages games a lot better than some other guys with that same tag. He has that knack for making a big play when it’s required of him. Still, you have a point. Reid is a good enough coach to survive the loss of Smith, though I think the franchise tag happens in the worst case.

          • trinity

            I agree about the franchise tag. We’ll see how it goes.

          • Reggie Flenory

            I think you are over simplifying alex smith worth to this ball club i watched every preseason snap he took and every regular season snap he took def in the first half there were a lottq check downs but in the second half when our defensive pass rush faded smith amd charles put the team on there backs and scored poimt smith was able to stretch the field vertically with avery and dexter and smith is alot more athletic than people give em credit for he made a number of first downs with hislegs and did all he could when we lost to the colts jc went down kniles davis stepped in and smith kept slinging

          • superman_25_58

            For one it’s every Qb’s job in the NFL to be a game manager and to not screw it up I’m pretty sure. 2) Did you watch any games Smith played in? Gives up on plays? I saw him run the shit outta the ball when shit broke down and that’s not giving up on a play when it breaks down, it’s actually quite the opposite and making shit happen! I seen him whoop Indy’s ass in the playoffs just for the defense to fuck it up for the team. He has been to the playoffs 3 yrs in a row with the 3rd year being with a team who was 2-14 the year before he showed up. toward the second half of the season Smith proved that he could throw deep but he didn’t take many shots down field bc people were still learning the offense and each other but now with a year under everyones belt I honestly think they will be better than most predict IMHO.

          • trinity

            Every quarterback has to manage games. No elite quarterback however, would ever be called just a game manager. There is a difference. The Colts loss was the most impressive game of his entire career. However I don’t understand the logic of tossing out a whole decade to focus on one game and judge a quarterback by that. What has he done over his whole career? You say he’s been to the playoffs 3 years in a row. I say he’s been carried to the playoffs 3 years in a row. His most successful season in San Francisco in terms of wins came in a year where he threw 17 touchdowns in 16 games. Let me repeat that. 17 touchdowns in 16 games. Yes he is decent at scrambling. Thankfully so, because he is reluctant to take consistent shots downfield. He is a very competent game manager. That’s all I can say.

          • superman_25_58

            Everyone calls Peyton Manning ELITE but yet he can’t even win the SB with a roster riddled with talent! What Elite QB has won the SB in recent memory that’s not named Tom Brady?

          • trinity

            Everyone calls Peyton elite, because he is elite. Manning, Rogers, and Brees to answer your question directly.

          • superman_25_58

            Peyton is Elite but Eli isn’t but yet Eli has more SB wins than older brother and all these other so called Elite QB’s you mentioned with less talent on the roster…….? So why are these QB’s Elite and Eli is chopped ham? Is Russel Wilson Elite? I mean after all the 3rd year QB has the same amount of SB wins as the almighty Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers! If were judging success than Eli beats all these bc at the End of the day success is measured by what you have been able to produce in the league, and Eli has won more SB’s than all these so called Elite QB’s you named! While AS11 doesn’t have a SB he is still the best QB we have on the roster and one of the best we have had on this roster in a very long time and he IS capable of winning big games.

          • trinity

            Very simply, elite is a combination of supreme talent and winning. There are 4 elite quarterbacks. All of them are supreme talents and superbowl winners. Eli has the rings, but he is missing the supreme talent, therefore he is not elite. It’s very simple actually. Alex Smith doesn’t have anywhere near the supreme talent, and he hasn’t accomplished a damn thing, therefore he is nowhere near elite. Period.

          • superman_25_58

            He hasn’t had anywhere near a good team to work with until his last couple years with the 49ers and he showed he has the ability to make it deep into the playoffs. Not to mention Smith has had a revolving door on OC and it’s hard to win with no stability at OC. He came here to a new system and produced quite well his first year in KC. Now that most of the players know the playbook and can just play and react verse thinking than playing. It should be very interesting to see what he accomplishes this year with the same coaching staff in tact. He deserves Cutler money at least IMO. 6yr 112 million with extras added in to the fine print which will allow us to move on from him if we have to without getting into a whole lot of trouble.

          • Travis Crouch

            Who did he have to throw to those years he had horrible numbers or going through a different cordinator Ever year does alot when you have to learn a new offense the two times he had the same offense cordinator he had top ten numbers in passing percentage I mean in the year he got hurt and Colin Kaepernick Came in the game before it was Arizona a real good def and he was 16 for 17 250 yrds passing and if you look at Kaepernick now he gets less yrds the Alex did there and he has a lot more talent around him the Alex ever did and not turning the ball over makes you a winner more then throwing alot of yrds and turning it over and if you look at the last three years he is the most winning qb and you can say it’s been the def but not putting your def against there backs held your def alot and he has had more game winning drives in the last three years two

          • trinity

            Even if he had Megatron, it wouldn’t matter because he doesn’t consistently take shots down field. Kaepernick doesn’t even have 3 years on the job, is lethal on the run, has a cannon arm, and all he knows is NFC championship and the superbowl. He is still developing and has things to work on for sure. But he is a franchise quarterback. Alex is not in my opinion. He’s a great stopgap. The guy you want while you look for an actual franchise quarterback. His record is nice. He does a great job of playing safe and letting the defense and run game carry him. Go look at his career stats. He has his really good moments. But for the most part, win or lose, it won’t have much to do with him either way.

          • Josh Landers

            Yeah. I could look great playing for the team with the deepest roster in the nfl…give me a break…

      • Josh Landers

        Maybe you should check out their win-loss records since luck came in. And td-int ratio while you’re at it. Smith is not as dynamic as luck is but I think he’s earned a title stronger than game manager. Guess who outplayed luck in the playoff game. The only reason we lost that game is because flowers went down and he was the only one that was keeping hilton in check. No one else could cover him.

        • Erik Lambert

          Smith played very well in that game but he also missed on some key passes in the second half that would’ve sealed it including that wide open one down the sideline. Like it or not, Luck may not manage the game as well but he makes the big plays in the big moments. Smith, aside from one or two instances, does not.

          • Josh Landers

            Smith didn’t miss on that pass. Bowes feet missed on that pass. And I beg to differ. I watched every chiefs game last year including the ps. There were some growing pains early on but I think smith played just as good as any top level 2nd tier qb. If I had to choose between him and cutler I’m taking smith 10/10. Smith did his thing with bums for wr’s and bowe, who played like a really good bum for most of the season. I guess time will tell but Kelce is coming back, bowe will bounce back this year, Fasano is healthy, Knile Davis will be healthy, and this will be year two in the offense. I think this year smith is going to show everyone why he deserves cutler money.

          • Erik Lambert

            I guess we’ll find out. I disagree, but we’ll see.

    • Reggie Flenory

      Alexsmith balled out the second half of the yr and played his ass off in the playoff loss we have added some play makers on offense including our rookie te kelce and de anrhony thomas outta orefon whos taking mcclusters spot the schedule we play is beastly so its fonna be tough but den,sd, and oak all have to play virtually the same schedule

      • trinity

        The problem is that Denver is a better team and San Diego may hop the chiefs as well. They really didn’t improve that much in the draft, and far too much hinges on one guy, Jamaal Charles. Dealing with Denver, their offense is the type that can score against the chiefs because Peyton gets the ball out too quickly for your pass rush. That will put Alex Smith in the position to outduel Peyton manning. We both know that is not happening, so your hands are tied.

        • Reggie Flenory

          I dis agree jc did account for alot ofnthe offense in the first halfnof the season but in the 2nd half people were shuttimg down our screen game and smith started spreading the ball around alot more and what people are stillmnot giving alex credit for were his wnd half numbers against better teams if you go back and look at the numbers smiths down field production increased because the offense was begining to click people were to focused on jc den, and sd are good but let no act as if denver or sd just destroyed us sd beat us in a down to the wire contest innthe first game and in the second game struggled against iur back ups and for all of denvers high powered offense sea proved that they can be handeled so did sd, and indy im glad people are over looking smith and the rest of this team because we will fly under the radar for a while but yes we will struggle 1.) Becuz of the schedule 2.) Every team struggles with injuries

  • Reggie Flenory

    Alex smith wasnt the chiefs biggest issue last season it was our lack of pass rush in the second half of the yr our recivers and our scored pts our defemse faded once hali and houston went down having said that we play innantough div with sd and den so its gonna be hard to get 12 wins because we play the nfc west this yr but everybody else in the div is gonna struggle playimg the same teams to so we will see

    • trinity

      No, Alex was rarely the problem. But the issue is that he’s rarely the solution either. Pray JC stays healthy, because if he goes down that will put Alex in a position where he has to lead the offense. In other words, kiss their season goodbye.

      • Reggie Flenory

        I respectfully dis agree without smith we dont win 12 games last yr but the tru test is gonna be this season cuz we have no easy games everybody on the schedule can hand us a L the goood thing is everybody else has a tough schedule as well so we will see how that plays out

        • trinity

          I respect your opinion, even though I disagree. We’ll see what happens

      • Josh Landers

        Smith put up Peyton manning like numbers in the playoff loss to the colts…without Charles. And Knile Davis stepped up as a rookie and with little regular season playing time, had 2 tds and 96 yards rushing. I think you need to do some homework.

        • trinity

          And I think you should stop focusing on 4 quarters and absurdly casting aside 10 years. Or better yet, lets do consider that game. That loss was the best game of his career. But tell me, since you brought up manning. Do people rave about how well Peyton manning plays in loses? Tom Brady? Drew brees? No they don’t. Why? Because they are so talented, that the bar is set too high for them to partake in lame moral victories. So the fact that that game is so raved about by Alex Smith fans actually speaks volumes about him in a negative way, even though I know you guys don’t realize this. He played at a level in one game that is beyond a level he’s ever played, and he lost. So what do you think he should get for that? A cookie? Fine. I’ll personally buy him a whole pack of Oreos. He can eat them on his couch as he watches the rest of the playoffs after his elimination this season.

          • Josh Landers

            I appreciate your sarcasm. Lol. And I know where you’re coming from but smith played well in the whole second half of the season. I’m in no way saying he should even be involved in a hof qb speech. But smith is better than a lot of people are giving him credit for. And who cares about what happened 10 years ago or even 5 years ago? Right now he’s better than jay cutler. And joe flacco. And probably tony romo too.

          • trinity

            I’m not sure about Cutler. I would definitely take him over Romo. Alex may not wow you, but I will give him credit for not epically failing like Romo lol. I would take flacco though. He’s more physically talented and he has a ring. Not close to being one of the elite, but the guy has gotten it done.

  • Don Andrew Halvorson

    In order
    1. Panthers – Fun while it lasted, need good contacts to run a program
    2. Bengals – Too much coaching and talent turnover, Ravens and Steelers look too good
    3. Chiefs – Pretenders, but really good pretenders
    4. Packers – Washed up and no name fee agents, all youth on defense, gonna get burned by the Bears

    • Erik Lambert

      I’d buy the Bengals but I think their talent will carry them enough to reach the playoffs or at least avoid a losing season. Panthers and Chiefs for sure. No way on the Packers, Don. Too much talent on offense.

  • Bob

    I think the Brars got rid of Cory Wooten, Henry Melton, and an aging Julious Peppers. Tho they did pick up a 34 year old Jarrod Allen for 3 years.

    • Erik Lambert

      32-years old, Bob.

  • Panther4life

    You guys love to sleep on the Panthers. The #2 defense got some significant upgrades and they finally have a legit red zone target in Benjamin.

    • Erik Lambert

      Great defense doesn’t always guarantee a great season, P4L. Ask the Ravens who had top five all of the last decade and had a lot of dud years between their two titles.

      • Panther4life

        Agreed, but there are other factors in play such as injuries. Losing Smitty isn’t that big of a blow considering he didn’t command the double and triple teams that he used to and he only accounted for about 800 yds and 4-5 touchdowns. Not great numbers for a #1 reciever. I’m just saying the “clunker” title is a little pre-mature at this point. Depends on who gets injured.

  • Roc

    Cant wait to see the Chiefs prove you wrong Eric

    • Erik Lambert

      Remember Roc, I said they hold a strong possibility. I did not venture into the fact arena. It’s Erik, for the future.