No team had higher expectations than the reigning NFC champs. Sean McVay's squad returned all of its firepower from last season's
Super Bowl squad and had every intention of returning to the big game. It looked good early on, when Los Angeles started 3-0, but then the wheels started to fall off. From
Todd Gurley's limited use to
Jared Goff's inconsistency to a major shuffle within the defense, L.A. struggled in many ways to recapture last year's dominance. In fact, the
Rams not only failed to repeat their magical 2018 campaign, but they missed the playoffs entirely.
Cleveland Browns were hyped all offseason, and rightfully so, after they traded for megastar
Odell Beckham Jr., signed dynamic RB
Kareem Hunt and gave the head-coaching keys to Freddie Kitchens, who had enjoyed success as the interim offensive coordinator down the stretch in 2018. So many people had the
Browns going deep in the playoffs, but they failed to show up week after week. All we have now?
Baker Mayfield's excuses. It feels like Cleveland is back to square one.
I could chose a number of teams here, but the one that sticks out most is the
Atlanta Falcons. The rest of the NFC South had serious issues at the game's most important position -- with
Drew Brees and
Cam Newton suffering injuries, and
Jameis Winston being outrageously inconsistent from one snap to the next -- seemingly paving a path to the promised land for
Matt Ryan and the
Falcons. But that just
wasn't the case, with Atlanta tumbling to irrelevancy before Halloween.
Although Dan Quinn's squad is finishing strong, it's too little too late. The
Falcons won one of their first eight games. ONE! With all of that talent, I'm not sure how that's possible.
Los Angeles Chargers took a huge step forward in 2018, going 12-4 and advancing to the Divisional Round. It felt like
Philip Rivers would make that final push for a ring in 2019. But nothing about the
Chargers clicked this year.
First, it was
Melvin Gordon's holdout. Then injuries to key defensive players like
Derwin James. And finally, Rivers turned in his worst -- and most reckless -- season in years. The Bolts went from well-rounded contenders to 5-10 cellar-dwellers. Tough year all around.
There are a few options, but the one true answer has to be the
Cleveland Browns. They brought in so much offensive talent and had the pieces to really contend -- not only in the AFC North, but in the entire AFC
and NFL. The
Browns fell flat early and never seemed to find their way. Maybe there were too many stars on one unit. All I know is Cleveland is far from the team we all envisioned in training camp.