The 5: Teams that have joined the Cardinals in disappointment
At 4-4-1, there is no doubt the Arizona Cardinals are a disappointment.
Expected to be a Super Bowl contender, they are now fighting for their playoff lives with five of their final seven games on the road.
The task looks daunting for a team that was supposed to do great things. While 2016 has been a struggle for them, they are not alone.
In fact, while the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks have been good, as expected, many other teams that were favorites going into the season have also had their issues.
So, in this week’s “The 5,” we take a look at other teams that joined the Cardinals on the struggle bus.
Cincinnati Bengals: 3-5-1
A playoff team each of the last five seasons, the Bengals had established themselves as a team with a very good defense and a capable offense. Getting QB Andy Dalton back was supposed to elevate them to another level, though this season has not been close to what was anticipated. Of the six games they have not won, all came against teams who are currently projected to make the playoffs, so it is not as if they are falling to terrible opponents. The schedule softens up a bit going forward, so the chance to make a run is there, especially since the AFC North leader is the 5-4 Ravens. Then again, good teams generally have to beat other good teams, and thus far the Bengals have shown little ability to do so.
Green Bay Packers: 4-5
Along with the Cardinals, the Packers were seen as one of the top teams in the NFC. It’s just that they’ve hardly looked impressive at any point this season. They have lost to some good teams in the Vikings, Cowboys and Falcons, but also fell to mediocre squads in the Colts and Titans. Aaron Rodgers is not having the kind of season everyone is accustomed to seeing from him, and Green Bay’s running game has been nonexistent. Defensively, the Packers are in the top 10 in yards allowed but rank 24th in points surrendered. No one would be surprised if they turned things around — after all, it’s tough to just give up on a team that has one of the best QBs in the league — but they have done little to inspire any confidence that brighter days are in store.
Carolina Panthers: 4-6
The Panthers went 15-1 last season and reached the Super Bowl, and there was little reason to think they would take much of a step back this year. Then the season happened. Carolina lost five of its first six games with an inconsistent offense and a defense that was not anything close to what it was last season. A home win against the Cardinals was followed by a road win over the Rams, and at that point it seemed like the Panthers may be set to go on a run to relevance. Then they collapsed at home in a loss to the Chiefs, and at 3-6 seem all but out of the playoff picture. Then they survived against the Saints, meaning a talented roster still has a glimmer of hope. However, their schedule features games at the Raiders, Seahawks and Redskins as well as home dates with the Falcons and Chargers, so it is not a soft road to finish on.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-5
The best offense in the league, they said. A defense that would be good enough, they told us. They were…wrong. Part of the Steelers’ problem can no doubt be tied to injury, but for some reason this team has just been unable to find its footing. With QB Ben Roethlisberger healthy again and a schedule that features just two teams with winning records, it’s possible — and maybe even likely — that they will make up ground in the season’s second half. If it is to happen, the defense will need to step up — it is ranked 22nd in yards allowed and is in the middle of the pack in points per game — while the offense will need to capture the form that had many predicting a good amount of fireworks this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-7
Now, it’s not like anyone was predicting the Jaguars would be among the NFL’s elite and make a push for the Super Bowl, but still, they were supposed to pretty good. They’re not. Quarterback Blake Bortles has not taken the step forward many were expecting, and the revamped defense has struggled to keep teams out of the end zone. The Jaguars are 25th in the NFL in allowing 26.6 points per game while they are just 27th in scoring, averaging 19.3 points per contest. In a division that is among the weakest in the NFL, the Jaguars once again find themselves nowhere near contention.
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