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Through six weeks of the NFL season, we have just enough of a gauge on which teams are contenders and which teams we condisder out of playoff contention.
Teams like the winless Jaguars and Raiders already need to start planning for the 2015 season, while even a win for Tennessee means nothing in terms of the playoff picture.
Those three teams are among the six NFL teams we’re sticking a fork in for 2014:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are among the youngest teams in the NFL, and now have rookie starters at quarterback, running back, and at two of the top three wide receivers. Gus Bradley took over a completely overhauled roster, and being winless at this point in the season should not come as too much of a surprise.
Bradley’s job should not be on the line, nor should anyone have anticipated the Jags being a playoff team in 2014. Best-case scenario for the Jags is they build some late momentum that carries over into next year, when the organization will expect Bortles to be a seasoned NFL quarterback.
Until them, the Jags will probably be looking at a chance to draft in the top five, again. They better be scouting some offensive linemen now.
2. Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr looked like the player Raiders fans and coaches had hoped for when they drafted him in the second round then anointed him the Week 1 starter. The rookie was destined for growing pains, but going toe-to-toe with Philip Rivers and San Diego is a very promising sign going forward.
The rest of this team, however, is very suspect, especially on the defensive side of the ball where a bunch of has-beens and declining veterans are eating up most of the salary cap. That’ll be the a main area to try and improve upon in the offseason.
With Denver and San Diego atop the AFC West, it just isn’t the Raiders’ year. Nor was it expected to be. 2014 is about getting Carr confidence before next year.
3. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee has managed two wins this season, one against the Chiefs in Week 1 and again last week against the Jaguars. Ken Whisenhunt will not be turning these Titans into a Cinderella story in 2014.
The Titans need to spend the rest of the year figuring out which pieces are going to be building blocks. Can Bishop Sankey be a starting running back? Is Justin Hunter the next No. 1 wide receiver? And who in the world is going to be the franchise quarterback, and is he even on the roster as of Oct. 14.?
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Maybe it was the four touchdown passes against them before halftime Sunday, or maybe it’s that Lovie Smith actually thought signing Josh McCown was a smart decision, but I never expected Tampa Bay to be in the mix in 2014.
Like the Titans, the Bucs need to figure out who their starting quarterback is going to be, then find some offensive linemen capable of protecting him.
5. New York Jets
The Jets’ circus is in full effect, as the coach, quarterback, and general manager are very much on the hot seat six weeks into the NFL season.
The Jets at 1-5 was a worst-case scenario when you dissected their strength of schedule, but one win through six weeks puts any team in too deep of a hole to make a run at the postseason, no matter how good the defense may be.
The Jets need to re-evaluate their roster, whether Smith is the answer under center or if Idzik did whiff on him as an NFL starter.
Washington is going to be a tough out, especially because it’s in the NFC East and will go up against two probable playoff teams in the Eagles and Cowboys, as well as the Giants who are capable of making a run.
But with rumors circulating in the nation’s capital that Jay Gruden needs to shake things up, you might as well count Washington out. There’s a Kirk Cousins v. Robert Griffin III issue that needs to play out, with one remaining with the team and one needing to be dealt elsewhere.
When there’s two quarterbacks, there’s always a problem. Those things don’t happen to playoff teams.
On deck: Atlanta, Minnesota, St. Louis, Miami, Kansas City
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