- New York Jets – Record: 5-11
The Jets were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season after they narrowly missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record in 2015. However, things didn’t work out well as starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick regressed and the Jets defense wasn’t as good as expected. Fitzpatrick was re-signed to a 1-year/$12 million contract to try and help the Jets win immediately, but instead he threw for 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Fitzpatrick was ultimately benched in favor of Bryce Petty, but the Jets quarterback situation turned out to be a complete wreck. Also, former pro-bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis had an awful season on defense despite making $17 million in 2016. Matt Forte was one of the few bright spots for the Jets as he had 7 rushing touchdowns, but this is a team that certainly underachieved.
2. Carolina Panthers – Record: 6-10
A year ago the Panthers were 15-1 and they were the NFC champions before they lost to the Broncos in the super bowl. However, the Panthers failed to live up to expectations in 2016 as they went 6-10 and they failed to make the playoffs. The Panthers defense wasn’t nearly as dominant after the departure of star cornerback Josh Norman in the offseason. Also, an injury to star linebacker Luke Kuechly later in the season made a big difference as well. Quarterback Cam Newton was the NFL MVP in 2015, but he regressed this season by throwing 14 interceptions compared to only 19 touchdowns. He also didn’t run the ball as much as in previous years and it made the Panthers offense less effective. Jonathan Stewart had a good year at running back, although he struggled to stay healthy. The one bright spot for Carolina was tight end Greg Olsen who once again had over 1,000 receiving yards. This team is still pretty much the same as the one that won the NFC in 2015, but if this team wants to improve in 2017 then they’ll need better play from Cam Newton.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Record: 3-13
The Jacksonville Jaguars were picked by many experts to be a playoff contending team in 2016, but instead the Jaguars actually got worse as they went 3-13. Jacksonville’s defense wasn’t very good as they allowed 24.9 points per game which was 26th in the NFL. Defense wasn’t expected to be a strength for the Jaguars though and it ultimately cost head coach Gus Bradley his job. It was Jacksonville’s offense that was surprisingly terrible this season after they were one of the best offenses in 2015. Jacksonville struggled to run the ball despite signing starting running back Chris Ivory in free agency. Also, the big disappointment was quarterback Blake Bortles who wasn’t very good in 2016. Bortles turned the ball over way too often as he was intercepted 16 times. However, he didn’t get much help from his wide receivers as Allen Hurns had a down season as he dealt with injuries. Also, Allen Robinson didn’t look nearly as good this season as he didn’t even reach the 1,000 receiving yards mark. Jacksonville has a talented young roster, but Blake Bortles and the offense worsened this season and therefore the Jaguars did as well.