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Five NFL teams poised for a quick turnaround in 2020

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April 9th, 2020

The NFL is anything but static. Quick turnarounds happen all the time, and multiple playoff teams from each conference are virtually guaranteed to miss the postseason the following year.

Over the last decade, a team has improved its win total by at least five games every year (win increase of +31%). An average 2.8 teams meet the threshold per season.

In 2018, three teams won seven additional games (Chicago, Cleveland, and Houston). San Francisco improved by nine wins last season.

When is the last time you heard an NFL analyst predict at least six more wins for a losing team the next season? Twelve teams have accomplished the feat over the last five years.

The Los Angeles Rams have won at least five additional games from the previous season three times in the last decade (2010, 2012, and 2016). Carolina, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington have done so twice.

Before reviewing the numbers for the last decade, here are five teams poised to improve their win total by at least five games in 2020.

Arizona Cardinals (5-12-1)

Ten wins looks challenging as a member of the NFC West. However, there are questions surrounding the Rams and Seahawks, and Super Bowl runners-up (49ers) typically take a step back the following season.

The Cardinals traded for DeAndre Hopkins (A+ rated transaction), and the defense received a significant upgrade, with the free-agent additions of De’Vondre Campbell, Devon Kennard, and Jordan Phillips.

Don’t be surprised if Arizona takes a major jump forward in Kyler Murray’s second year.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-14)

The Bengals will add Joe Burrow and tackle Jonah Williams (2018 first-round pick), along with others, to an offense with competent skill players (Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green, and Joe Mixon), and the team spent more than $100 million acquiring five defensive starters through free agency. They will be improved.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)

After essentially playing on a neutral field in Carson the last three seasons, the Chargers move into their glitzy new stadium in Inglewood, and they’ve spent money in the offseason to improce the roster, with new additions Bryan Bulaga, Chris Harris Jr., and Linval Joseph.

Los Angeles has the best defensive-end duo in the AFC (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram), and if the Chargers can get a suitable quarterback, 10 wins could be within their grasp once again.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)

Tom Brady joins a potent offense, and a young and improving defense is eligible to make big strides in Todd Bowles' second year as coordinator.

Others may sell Brady short, but 12 wins is possible for the Buccaneers.

Washington Redskins (3-13)

Chase Young could wreak havoc in a weak division, and new coach Ron Rivera brings a leadership quality to the sideline that has been missing since Mike Shanahan left in 2013.

I like their young receivers (Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon), and if Dwayne Haskins progresses into a viable quarterback in his second season, Washington has the potential to be a .500 team, given a soft schedule.

Recent total win improvements

Here are win total improvements (five or more) over the last decade:

2019

San Francisco (+9): NFC champion, 4-12 to 13-3.
Green Bay (+7): 6-12 to 13-3

2018

Chicago (+7): 5-11 to 12-4
Cleveland (+7): 0-16 to 7-9
Houston (+7): 4-12 to 11-5

2017

Jacksonville (+7): 3-13 to 10-6
Philadelphia (+6): Super Bowl winner, 7-9 to 13-3
Los Angeles Chargers (+5): 5-11 to 10-6

2016

Dallas (+9): 4-12 to 13-3
Los Angeles Rams (+7): 4-12 to 11-5
Tennessee (+6): 3-13 to 9-7
New York Giants (+5): 6-10 to 11-5
Oakland (+5): 7-9 to 12-4

2015

Carolina (+8): 7-9 to 15-1
New York Jets (+6): 4-12 to 10-6
Washington (+5): 4-12 to 9-7

2014

Houston (+7): 2-14 to 9-7

2013

Philadelphia (+6): 4-12 to 10-6
Arizona (+5): 5-11 to 10-6
Carolina (+5): 7-9 to 12-4

2012

Indianapolis (+9): 2-14 to 11-5
Minnesota (+7): 3-13 to 10-6
Los Angeles Rams (+5): 2-14 to 7-9
Washington (+5): 5-11 to 10-6

2011

San Francisco (+7): 6-10 to 13-3

2010

Los Angeles Rams (+8): 1-15 to 7-9
Tampa Bay (+7): 3-13 to 10-6
Kansas City (+6): 4-12 to 10-6


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