Friends, we’re at that point in the NFL season where teams are shuffling off to that farm upstate. Eliminated from playoff consideration, these are the teams whose seasons ended too early … or, perhaps, far too late. But they deserve a fond farewell, and here, each week, we’ll give them one.
Only two teams cashed in their chips this week, both from the Bay Area. First, the Oakland Raiders. In their waning days in California, the Raiders entered the season with a strong roster and high hopes. Several of Oakland’s players have posted exceptional seasons, which would be good news except for the fact they did that while playing for other teams. So why is there hope for this two-win dumpster fire? Jon Gruden’s got a lot of management goodwill — a $100 million contract buys you a little bit of time — and he could flip an armload’s worth of draft picks into a good team. We’ll find out in 2021 or so.
San Francisco 49ers
Across the bay and down the 101 sits our other eliminated team, the San Francisco 49ers. Granted, the Niners were cashed the moment Jimmy Garoppolo went down for the season with a torn ACL in Week 3. But still, this is one hell of a fixer-upper Kyle Shanahan’s got here. The team has finished in last place the last three seasons, and has won all of 15 games since Jim Harbaugh and you-know-who left in 2014. If there’s reason to hope, it rests on the arm of Garoppolo, even if he’ll need to play like the love child of Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes to rouse this team next year.
Next up: the Falcons, Jets and Bills are among those staring down the barrel of elimination. Join us right back here next week when we usher them out the door.
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