When it comes to the term “boom or bust”, it’s usually a reference in regards to fantasy football. Basically, it refers to a player if they perform exceptional or perform poorly. It can be a term used for NFL teams as well. With the NFL offseason in the rear view mirror, teams have a clear understanding of how they will perform this upcoming season. Specific teams made the necessary moves to improve the quality of their team in hopes of contending for either a playoff spot or a shot to win the Super Bowl. Three teams this upcoming season fit the model for “boom or bust” based on their offseason moves and draft.
Detroit Lions (projected win total: over 9.5)
If there is one team that has a ridiculous amount of hype surrounding them, it is the Detroit Lions. Last season, Detroit started off 1-6 before winning eight of their last 10 games and it was enough to finish with a winning record of 9-8. Fast forward to now, people are expecting Detroit to take that next step and contend for the NFC North division title. On paper, the team looks like a playoff contender with the moves that they made.
Offensively, Detroit was a top 10 unit from an efficiency standpoint and the group added new playmakers to their unit. The Lions added running back David Montgomery in free agency, running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam Laporta in the draft to help quarterback Jared Goff. Defensively, the unit looks to be improved on paper. Detroit’s secondary looks competent compared to last season’s group. Adding safety C.J. Gardner Johnson, cornerbacks Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley provide a facelift for a group that ranked 30th in dropback EPA/per play.
As for the linebacker room, it’s slightly improved but the glaring weakness is their interior defensive line. Detroit has talent on their team, and a head coach in Dan Campbell that has helped develop a gritty and tough mindset. However, this team is young. Detroit was one of the youngest teams in the NFL last season. It tends to get lost in the hype that they are getting. Their free agency was fine, nothing to be impressed about and their draft was disappointing for various reasons.
Detroit has the potential to be really good and make the postseason, but they also have the potential to miss the postseason completely. When it comes to Detroit, tread carefully. At a glance, the team has potential to be really good but on the flip side this team has the potential to be a major letdown due to the expectations placed upon them.
Pittsburgh Steelers (projected win total: 8.5)
Another team that is slowly building hype is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Same as Detroit, this team finished last season with a winning record and almost made a run at a wild card spot despite the odds being stacked against them. For quite some time, Pittsburgh has been a team that’s been stuck in neutral. This team hasn’t been bad or good, just average. For reasons unknown, some people believe that Pittsburgh is underrated and a team that could surprise everyone. However, I don’t buy it for several reasons.
It’s hard for me to believe in a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in seven years. Pittsburgh had a solid draft, drafting multiple key players at key spots. Drafting offensive tackle Broderick Jones is an upgrade at their left tackle but he is still pretty raw. Cornerback Joey Porter Jr will likely start day one opposite of cornerback Patrick Peterson, and defensive tackle Keeanu Benton will contribute. Tight end Darnell Washington is also a wild card.
The rookie class has talent but expecting major contributions from this whole class is a bit unreasonable. Trading for wide receiver Allen Robinson from the Los Angeles Rams was a bad move, considering how they already have the same type of receiver in George Pickens. Both Robinson and Pickens excel at the 50-50 contested catches but can’t get separation. Adding Isaac Seumalo on the other hand was a solid move to boost the offensive line. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada being retained seemed like a mistake, but he gets an opportunity to redeem himself despite Pittsburgh’s offense struggling when it comes to scoring points or maximizing their player’s potential.
As for the quarterback, Kenny Pickett will have to show major improvement. From a statistical standpoint, Pickett wasn’t great but he wasn’t bad. Head coach Mike Tomlin is still there and he finds ways to get the best out of his teams every single year. However, I just don’t see this team being a threat to anyone in the AFC. The team will be competitive but not someone I would take seriously as threats in the playoffs if they even make it there.
New York Jets (projected win total: 9.5)
It’s not a shocker that the New York Jets are here. After months of waiting, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a New York Jet. All it took was public wooing from Jets players and fans for this move to happen and it did. The New York Jets fit this “boom or bust” model to perfection. No team has a ridiculous amount of hype behind them like the New York Jets. Is the hype justified? Some may argue and say yes. Some of why the Jets missed the playoffs last season was due to incompetent quarterback play. Aaron Rodgers is an upgrade over quarterback Zach Wilson, who was inept in every facet last season.
New York is already a playoff contender to most, but are they Super Bowl contenders? On paper, this Jets team has talent but this team has immense pressure to deliver this season. Considering how Aaron Rodgers will only be on the team for at least two years at max considering how unpredictable he is, anything less of a Super Bowl will be a disappointment. Offensively, aside from the quarterback upgrade the wide receiver room is led by Offensive Rookie of the year Garrett Wilson and is rounded out by Mecole Hardman and Allen Lazard who they acquired in free agency.
Offensive line does have a bit of a concern with the tackle spots but overall the unit should be improved from last season. Defensively, this unit has the potential to be a top five unit in the NFL. Defensive rookie of the year cornerback Sauce Gardner and cornerback D.J. Reed is an underrated cornerback duo. The Jets should make the playoffs, but expecting this team to make the Super Bowl in a loaded AFC seems like a tall task.
Aaron Rodgers should be better than what he was last season, if he doesn’t then the Jets are in trouble. Considering how much New York gave up for him, Rodgers has no choice. Outside of the Detroit Lions, the possibility of the Jets underperforming this season seems like a strong possibility. They could prove me wrong but if there is one team that could disappoint this upcoming season, it’s the New York Jets.