Well, that was quite the unpredictable, amusing and surprising NFL regular season.
How many of you predicted either of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings or Green Bay Packers to miss the playoffs? All five of those teams were trendy picks to not only make the playoffs, but to win their respective divisions and compete in Super Bowl LII.
Heck, even a good amount of fans thought the Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants would get into the postseason. But as is the case with every NFL campaign, we saw a handful of projected playoff and championship contenders fall short of qualifying.
But it's been a long time since this many talented teams all happened to miss the playoffs in one year. If you were to tell me in September that I was going to write this list, I would have never, ever guessed that teams like the Vikings, Jaguars and Steelers would be on this list. It would have been hard for me to believe the Falcons and Packers would fall short, too.
Certainly, I would have expected to have the Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens on this list. But hey, this is why they play the game. Playoff matchups and championships are not determined in the pre-season.
About two-thirds of NFL fan bases can now only look forward to the draft in April, rather than a chance at winning Super Bowl LII. Want your team to play at Super Bowl LIV in Miami? Here is one huge move every non-playoff team must make in the offseason
20 Pittsburgh Steelers: (9-6-1): Replace Keith Butler
I don't know what to say, folks. It's amazing how this 9-6-1 Pittsburgh team somehow missed the postseason. Ben Roethlisberger had the most passing yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown each had 1,000-yard seasons. James Conner was just as good as Le'Veon Bell. The offensive line was phenomenal. The defense was a top-tier unit.
But for the first time in five years, the Steelers aren't in the postseason. Head coach Mike Tomlin is safe, and the roster really has no big-time flaws. They just need to make one change on the coaching staff.
Defensive coordinator Keith Butler probably has to go. The defense made too many late-game mistakes (See losses in Weeks 13, 14 and 16.). Hiring a fresher mind to who can help this team manage late-game situations better makes sense. Other than that, the Steelers don't have to change much.
19 Tennessee Titans (9-7): Acquire A True No. 1 Receiver
The Titans had all the pieces in place to make a serious run in the postseason this year. Had quarterback Marcus Mariota stayed healthy all season, it's logical to believe that Tennessee would have sneaked into the postseason over the Indianapolis Colts.
There is a lot to love about this Tennessee unit. They have a promising offense built around Mariota and running back Derrick Henry. Their offensive line is an elite unit, and that defense is championship caliber. Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson deserve a lot of credit for building up a team that should contend for years to come.
But the Titans really need a true No. 1 wide receiver to complement Corey Davis - who led the team in receptions (65) and receiving yards (891). Perhaps Larry Fitzgerald is available on the market? Might they trade for a veteran like A.J. Green or Emmanuel Sanders? Either way, the Titans' passing offense won't be better in 2019 unless there's a true No. 1 wide receiver to help Mariota and company out.
18 Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1): New Offensive Coordinator
What more can we really say here? No team underachieved more in 2018 than the Minnesota Vikings - who won 13 games just a year ago and reached the NFC Championship Game.
$84 million quarterback Kirk Cousins was a major disappointment, but the offensive line was decent. Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook all produced on offense. The defense remained one of the best units in 2018. No changes are needed there.
The goal for Minnesota is to try and fix Cousins. They're suck with him. It's hard to envision quarterbacks coach and interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski retaining that position.
We'll have to see what other coordinators are let go here, but the Vikings need to find somebody who can make the most of Cousins again. That's really it. The roster is talented enough to win a Super Bowl. Mike Zimmer is a great coach. They just need the right offensive mind to come in and help Cousins produce a true starting quarterback.
17 Cleveland Browns (7-8-1): Hire Mike McCarthy As Head Coach
The Browns did much better than anybody expected, and they were oh-so-close to finishing with a winning record. The future is finally looking bright in Cleveland, and the players, coaches, management and owners have so much to be excited about.
That said, it doesn't sound like defensive coordinator and interim head coach Gregg Williams will retain the latter position. With only a handful of quality coaching candidates available, the Browns should have their eyes set on Mike McCarthy.
Nevermind his last two seasons in Green Bay, which were downright awful. McCarthy is a Super Bowl-winning coach and is a brilliant mind on both sides of the football. With a championship and plenty of winning on his resume, this is the guy that Cleveland should prioritize. McCarthy would do wonders with Baker Mayfield and co.
16 Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sign A Wide Receiver
What a disappointing season in Carolina. This team started out 6-2 and only managed to snap an awful losing streak on the final day of the regular season - against a New Orleans Saints team that rested Drew Brees.
Carolina has an above-average defensive unit and a decent offense with Cam Newton, tight end Greg Olsen and elite running back Christian McCaffrey. But they don't have eough playmaking wide receivers, and that has to be addressed.
Rookie D.J. Moore had a solid year, and he should be even better as he progresses. However, the Panthers need another wideout to complement Moore, and there are some good options in free agency.
Randall Cobb, Donte Moncrief, Golden Tate and Mike Wallace are among the many talents that could excel in Carolina's offense. The front office's main priority is to find another playmaker to help out the passing game, and they can address that when free agency opens.
15 Washington Redskins (7-9): Overhaul The Front Office
You can't blame head coach Jay Gruden, whose Redskins would have likely won the NFC East if Alex Smith wasn't lost for the second half of the season with a broken leg. The fact he got seven wins out of this roster is actually quite impressive.
You can, however, blame owner Dan Snyder and the front office for another letdown of a season. The Washington Post wrote a detailed piece about the mistakes the higher-ups in this organization have made.
Team president Bruce Allen needs to be replaced after doing just about nothing since taking over as president. The entire front office should be let go, and Washington should find some experienced and successful executives to take over.
Look at what happened to the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams once they changed things up in the front office. Washington should leave the roster and coaching staff largely in tact, but change just about everything in the management department. But does Snyder actually have the guts to do this?
14 Atlanta Falcons (7-9): Extend Julio Jones
The Falcons missed the playoffs this season, but let's not freak out too much. Too many key players like Deion Jones, Devonta Freeman and Keanu Neal missed significant time. With a healthy roster and a few teaks on the coaching staff, Atlanta will be a Super Bowl contender in 2019.
There aren't any glaring weaknesses on this Atlanta roster, which is one of the best in football. However, they should look towards extending the contract of star wide receiver Julio Jones, who's signed for two more years.
Jones held out briefly in the offseason, and the Falcons better keep their Pro Bowl wideout happy. Adding another year or two to his contract should be the top priority for GM Thomas Dimitroff.
13 Miami Dolphins (7-9): Move On From Ryan Tannehill
Truth be told, no team has more work to do this offseason than the Miami Dolphins. Even if they keep the coaching staff in tact, it's time to shake up the front office. It's time to rebuild the roster on both sides of the ball - and it all starts with cutting Ryan Tannehill loose.
Tannehill will be 31 in 2019, and he's missed significant time in each of the last three years. Miami has been mired in mediocrity during Tannehill's tenure here, making the playoffs just once. It's simply time to move on.
As you'll read more on this list, a handful of veteran starters will be available on the market. But keeping Tannehill means Miami is prepared to remain mediocre. They have got to make a change behind center. Tannehill had his chance, but it's time to move on.
12 Green Bay Packers (6-9-1): Hire Josh McDaniels As Head Coach
The Green Bay Packers have missed the playoffs two years in a row now, which is a travesty when you consider they only have the game's most talented quarterback in Aaron Rodgers
There is so much talent on both sides of the ball. Really, the Packers don't have a glaring weakness. All they really need is the right coach to make it all work, and that man could be New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Ignore his first coaching gig with the Denver Broncos. McDaniels is one of the most brilliant offensive minds and would do wonders with Rodgers leading his team. The defense doesn't need much work. All McDaniels would have to do is install the right system for the two-time MVP to succeed.
If the Packers get McDaniels, their offense will become a machine again. And before you know it, they'll be back to competing for Super Bowls.
11 Cincinnati Bengals (6-10): Trade A.J. Green
In all honesty, the Bengals should be starting over from top to bottom. But owner Mike Brown doesn't mind losing annually, so Cincinnati fans have to accept that. The management and coaching staff also needs to change. The Bengals won't be doing that.
The whole roster needs a change. It's not that simple. Perhaps the Bengals would love to move on from Andy Dalton, but it's not realistic. They'll have to stick with him for now, which means moving on from another star.
The Bengals should trade wide receiver A.J. Green for multiple reasons. He's 31 in 2019 and only has one year left on his contract. The Bengals shouldn't invest that much in a player who's nearing the end of his prime years.
Cincinnati also employs two quality young receivers in Tyler Boyd and John Ross. Green is thus expendable. They should look to trade him for a handful of draft selections that can help the Bengals with their rebuild.
10 Buffalo Bills (6:10): Draft A Wide Receiver
This was obviously a disappointing season for the Bills, but everybody has to remember that this is a rebuild. They had one of the league's top defensive units, and Josh Allen looks like a true franchise quarterback they can build around.
Though the 2019 Draft is highlighted by defensive linemen/pass rushers, the Bills don't need to address the front seven. The goal should be to find new pass catchers for Allen. The best way to do that is in the draft, since the free agent market for wide receivers in 2019 is week.
There are a handful of quality options out there, including A.J. Brown, N'Keal Harry and Deebo Samuel. The Bills simply have to use their top pick on a wide receiver, because it's the main weakness on this team. Allen won't grow in 2019 if he's stuck with this group of wideouts he had in year one.
9 Denver Broncos (6-10): Sign Nick Foles
Ever since Peyton Manning retired in 2016, John Elway has tried out the following guys at quarterback: Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum. Neither have panned out. It's time to cut Keenum and find somebody else.
Well, Nick Foles is set to hit free agency - and Elway should do everything in his power to bring the Super Bowl LII aboard. With Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton and Phillip Lindsay as playmakers, the Broncos have the pieces in place to be an offensive juggernaut. They just need a reliable quarterback to put it all together.
The Broncos shouldn't be afraid to overpay for Foles, either. They have the cap space and the incentive. The defense is championship caliber, and the guys on offense will succeed more if there's a reliable quarterback in place. I'd give Foles a multi-year deal worth $20 million a season, because he's the guy that would get Denver right back into the playoffs.
8 Detroit Lions (6-10): Add New Pass Rushers
Technically, this would be more than one move, but you get the point.The Lions were a major disappointment in 2018, even though first-year head coach Matt Patricia was able to fix the defense and finally help Matthew Stafford by forming a strong rushing offense.
Their biggest flaw this season was undoubtedly the lack of a pass rush from the inside. It doesn't help that Ezekiel Ansah is likely to leave in free agency this offseason, so the Lions better find a way to add at least a couple of more pass rushers via the draft and free agency.
The Lions could target Dee Ford, Frank Clark and/or DeMarcus Lawrence - though the Dallas Cowboys will likely retain him. The 2019 Draft is loaded with quality pass rushers, so the Lions can add one of them with their first-round pick.
Bottom line: Detroit has to add a couple of pass rushers in the offseason. It's that simple.
7 Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Find A New Quarterback
There's almost no way the Jacksonville Jaguars will keep on Blake Bortles for next season, even though he only signed a three-year, $54 million extension last February. After a dismal year from Bortles, it's time for the Jaguars to find another option behind center.
The Jaguars will have plenty of options to choose from in the offseason, once they cut or trade Bortles. Perhaps the New York Giants will be open to moving Eli Manning? If not, they can still go after Teddy Bridegwater, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill - with the latter three all but assured to leave their respective teams after this season.
Jacksonville could even look to draft Missouri product Drew Lock, the undisputed top quarterback prospect in the 2019 class. But the bottom line is this: They need to move on from Bortles and find a new starter for 2019.
6 New York Giants (5-11): Replace Eli Manning
Many were surprised when the New York Giants opted to draft running back prospect Saquon Barkley over Eli Manning's successor with the No. 2 pick here. Well, there's no more clowning around. The Giants have to move on from a 38-year-old Manning. It's long overdue.
They could target quarterback Drew Lock in the offseason, or simply go after a free agent like Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater or even Joe Flacco. The likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Barkley need a younger and simply better quarterback to work with.
Manning has been past his prime for a few years now. Keeping him would do nothing to help this team transition towards a better future.
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11): Sign Earl Thomas
The Buccaneers have had one of the worst defenses in football for several years now, which is inexcusable when you consider the amount of talent on that roster. The front seven is productive with Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy, but that secondary needs a massive upgrade.
There isn't a free agent who could help the Bucs out more than Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas, who is sure to leave the Seattle Seahawks this offseason. Thomas remains an elite cover and ball-hawking safety, and he would completely change the dynamic of that Tampa Bay secondary.
If the Buccaneers could just sort out their problems on defense, they might surprise us in 2019. The offense showed its flashes and should be better next season. But if the front office doesn't add an impact player like Thomas on defense, they'll be in the NFC South basement once again.
4 Oakland Raiders (4-12): Move On From Derek Carr
The Raiders are undoubtedly going to use their first selection on a defensive lineman, so that will at least help them fill some of the void left behind by Khalil Mack. Head coach Jon Gruden is unlikely to be a big spender in free agency. This is a major rebuild in Oakland, plain and simple.
Since Gruden has made it clear he wants to move on from his expensive veteran players, it makes sense to trade or release quarterback Derek Carr. Oakland isn't going to contend any time soon, and they're better off moving on from Carr and rebuild the team around a younger quarterback.
Oakland could always try to nab Oregon State quarterback Justin Herbert next year, too. If they keep on tanking, they'll surely find a new franchise signal-caller in the 2020 Draft. They may as well move on from Carr and continue the rebuild by getting even younger. Also, Carr simply hasn't shown his ability to lead this team. It's time to move on.
3 New York Jets (4-12): Sign Le'Veon Bell
The Jets will enter the 2019 season having last made the playoffs nine years ago. The good news is that they have a promising franchise quarterback to build around in Sam Darnold. Now, the goal is to find big-time playmakers to help him out.
New York has every reason to go after Pittsburgh Steelers running backLe'Veon Bell, who is the top free agent on the market. He's arguably the league's most complete do-it-all running back, capable of changing a game as a runner and pass-catcher.
The Jets figure to have over $100 million in cap space, so they can easily outbid the other teams for Bell. Getting Darnold a dynamic player of Bell's caliber would take the Jets to new heights in 2019. They have to make him their top priority in the offseason.
2 San Francisco 49ers (4-12): Draft Greedy Williams
The 49ers are going to be fine on offense next year, with a (hopefully) healthy Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon at running back and tight end George Kittle.
Their pass rush looks promising with Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner leading the way. But this team needs another corner to complement Richard Sherman - who only has a couple of prime years left.
San Francisco doesn't need to find another pass rusher, even though such players are going to headline this year's draft. That's why it's an easy decision to use their first-round pick on LSU cornerback Greedy Williams.
The thought of him, Sherman, Buckner and Thomas leading that offense should scare other teams. Williams would be a big-time game changer in that secondary, and the 49ers need to zero in on him when draft day comes.
1 Arizona Cardinals (3-13): Trade Patrick Peterson
They're drafting Nick Bosa first overall. Too obvious. After that, the Cardinals have another priority to focus on.
Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson reportedly requested a trade in the offseason, but he later released a statement that emphasized his desire to stay with the team. Really, it's anybody's guess if Peterson truly wants to stay in Arizona or not.
But the Cardinals are in full-on rebuilding mode, and Peterson will be 29 years of age when 2019 rolls around. He only has a few good years left, and by the time the Cardinals are contending again, Peterson will be well past his playing prime.
The move won't sit well with fans, but trading the Pro Bowl corner is the right move for Arizona. They could receive a bundle of much-needed draft picks for Peterson. On top of that, they'd clear significant cap space and thus be able to spend big in free agency over the next several years. Holding onto Peterson doesn't help Arizona in the long run. They have to trade him and receive all the assets they can while his value remains at an all-time high.