Last year, the Denver Broncos had their fans buzzing with excitement. The acquisition of Russell Wilson promised a new era of success, and the playoffs felt within reach for the first time since Peyton Manning’s retirement. However, that optimism quickly faded after a mishandled game by coach Nathaniel Hackett in the season opener, setting the tone for a lackluster year. Broncos fans were left disappointed, and Hackett was eventually let go.
Every new NFL season brings renewed hope for fans, but not all teams can live up to the lofty expectations set in the preseason. So, which team might follow in the footsteps of the 2022 Broncos? Let’s take a closer look at some contenders:
New York Jets
The Jets bear a striking resemblance to the 2022 Broncos. They hold the NFL’s longest playoff drought, and their struggle to find a reliable quarterback led them to trade for Aaron Rodgers. Playing in a challenging division, there’s a possibility that Rodgers doesn’t shine as expected in his new uniform, mirroring Wilson’s experience last season. Additionally, if the Jets’ defense regresses after showing improvement, it could be a rocky road. It’s worth noting that Nathaniel Hackett, the architect of the Broncos’ 2022 struggles, is now the Jets’ offensive coordinator.
The Lions ended the previous season with an impressive 8-2 run, fueling optimism for the upcoming year. However, questions remain about the roster’s depth, particularly at wide receiver, and whether the defense has truly been fixed. Detroit hasn’t won a division title since 1993, so if they miss the playoffs this season, it will be a tough offseason for their devoted fans.
While the Bills had an excellent 2022 season, it ended on a sour note with a lopsided playoff loss. Offseason drama involving Stefon Diggs and a tougher AFC East division could pose challenges. The Bills’ Super Bowl aspirations may be in jeopardy if they struggle to navigate a demanding schedule.
The Jaguars were surprising winners of the AFC South last season, but their victories weren’t without drama. They needed late-game heroics to secure crucial wins. Their defense remains a concern, with limited salary-cap space for improvements. Perhaps last season’s success was more about luck than skill, and they could be exposed this year.
San Francisco 49ers
While the 49ers are considered one of the league’s top teams, history has shown that even the favorites can falter. A challenging offseason, including a questionable draft and significant losses in free agency, has raised concerns. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans departed, and the status of star player Nick Bosa was uncertain. The 49ers may be in for a rough ride despite high expectations.
In the NFL, anything can happen, and teams that seem destined for success can often fall short. While no one expects these teams to have mediocre or bad seasons, the unpredictability of the NFL means that disappointment could be lurking around the corner for one or more of them. Just as the 2022 Broncos surprised fans, this year’s NFL season may hold unexpected twists and turns for these hopeful contenders.