These 5 NFL teams have high expectations but could just as easily be disappointments

These 5 NFL teams have high expectations but could just as easily be disappointments

Pundits think highly of these squads but that doesn't equate to actual on-field success

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The NFL season is finally here, and as usual, there’s lots of optimism and expectations surrounding specific teams. Of the teams with high expectations (playoff push or better), a few have just as good a chance of disappointing their fan base as they do of meeting or exceeding set expectations.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins

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Tua Tagovailoa is facing the most pressure of any young quarterback in the league heading into the 2022 campaign. The kid drafted one pick after him (Justin Herbert) in Los Angeles has set the league on fire in his first two seasons, won offensive Rookie of the Year, and was named to his first Pro Bowl last year.

Whether it’s fair or not, Tua and Herbert will forever be linked during their NFL careers, and thus far, Tagovailoa is trailing by a large margin. Not in team success, but individually they’re in different universes. Tua has the chance to change the narrative this year with a strong showing and playoff berth.

Considering the weapons and resources Miami gave Tua this offseason, if the Dolphins miss the postseason again, the next thing he’ll be given is a one-way ticket out of South Beach. The team added Mike McDaniel as head coach and has blessed Tagovailoa with a trio of speedy wide receivers, including Tyreek Hill. His nickname is the cheetah. Even if you’d never seen him play, that name implies speed.

With all that at his disposal, it’s still possible this season ends in disaster. Nine wins feel like the ceiling for Tua’s Dolphins, even with all the additions. One thing to pay attention to is the frequency at which Tua can consistently get the ball to his deep threats down the field. His accuracy has never been questioned. It’s his precision deep downfield outside the hash marks.

Result: Dolphins miss the playoffs again

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys

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America’s team should have a spot saved on this list yearly since expectations from fans, media, and Jerry Jones are usually sky-high. See Jones’ ‘1+1=3' comment. Not once in the last two and a half decades have the ‘Boys come close to going as far as they’re commonly predicted.

Dallas’ over/under win total for the year is 10.5. Since the Cowboys won 12 last season, it’s only fitting that they follow their usual pattern of not making the playoffs in consecutive years. This means they’re more likely to fall short than flourish in ‘22. Eight wins sound more probable for Dallas this year with offensive line problems and the lack of depth at the wide receiver position.

Result: Cowboys miss the postseason

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Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers

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L.A. is a tough team to decipher. They made some significant moves in the offseason, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Chargers added Khalil Mack via trade and signed J.C. Jackson to a defense that already featured Joey Bosa. If it wasn’t already clear, these Chargers are going all in trying to win now.

That’s what gives me cause to pause. While I think the Chargers could make noise in the AFC, let’s keep in mind, they are the Chargers. And their head coach’s Madden NFL football-esque style should be frightening to Chargers fans. Being aggressive is one thing, but continually passing up points because of “analytics” is preposterous.

And they’re also the Chargers. For years they’ve been like the Cowboys of the AFC when finding new and innovative ways to lose games. I love Herbert at QB but sometimes, even having a great signal-caller isn’t enough to overcome a coach that puts him in bad positions too often.

On paper, the Chargers should make the postseason easily, but in real life, I feel a couple of missteps where there shouldn’t be at some point. The Chargers over/under is 10.5. So, I’ll take the under and go with 10 wins and likely disappointment in the wildcard round. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow squandered this roster and missed the playoffs altogether.

Result: Chargers make the playoffs (hesitantly)

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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

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Drama was the theme of the offseason for Arizona. Most of it centered around a contract dispute with star QB Kyler Murray before that was finally settled in July when he signed his $230 million extension. Then we learned about the “independent study” clause that somehow leaked, and the drama escalated for about another week before the Cardinals front office folded to public scrutiny. Regardless of how anyone feels about that, it was included for a reason.

Amid all that turmoil, Murray’s favorite target, DeAndre Hopkins, got himself suspended six games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy when he got popped for using PEDs. So, not only will Murray be without his No. 1 receiver to start the year, he’ll do so in what some call the toughest division in football.

Arizona hosts the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, which will likely turn into a shootout. Murray struggled last year during the second half of the season without Hopkins on the field. Now he’s got to do it for another six games. Four of the Cardinals’ first six games are against playoff teams from last year. While Arizona has started off hot the previous two seasons, things could get ugly in a hurry in ‘22.

Result: Cardinals will be on the outside looking in come January

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Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals

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These Bengals are another team that’s tough to figure out. Yes, they made that improbable run to the Super Bowl that no one outside Cincinnati saw coming. But you have to wonder just how good this team really is. Are they the next perennial playoff powerhouse? Or are they the ‘08 Cardinals who had a good year or two, then descended back into obscurity?

Baltimore controlled the AFC North until Lamar Jackson’s ankle injury caused him to miss the last five games last year. Cincy was able to creep up and take over that division, edging out the Steelers by one game for the North crown.

One thing is sure, though, if the Bengals intend to make another postseason run, they’ve got to keep Joe Burrow protected. Burrow was sacked a league-high 51 times in ‘21. He was sacked another 19 times in the playoffs. It’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. But the Bengals did make moves to sure up the o-line by bringing in La’el Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa. ProFootballTalk has the o-line ranked top 10 in the league heading into the season.

They’ll be on full display in Week 1 against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that can get after the QB.

Result: Cincy wins 9 but will need help to make the postseason 

 

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