As the holiday season arrives and NFL season heads into its final stretch, many teams are spending their time reflecting on what they should be thankful for, while others are already looking ahead to the new year.
Regardless of where your team stands, there is always something to look forward to next. Whether it is the NFL playoffs, the draft or free agency, there is at least something every team should be excited for in the near future.
Here is what we were able to gather at RADIO.COM:
New England Patriots - Another Super Bowl Ring
Looking beyond the 2019 season is difficult to gauge with the New England Patriots, but the future is now, as always with this team. While Tom Brady and the Patriots offense are not as daunting as they once were, the defense is arguably the best in the league and perhaps the best of the Bill Belichick era. Because of that, the Patriots are once again a legitimate Super Bowl threat and Brady and Belichick could very well win an unprecedented seventh championship together.
Buffalo Bills - Potential Playoff Win
The Buffalo Bills have not won a playoff game since 1995, but there’s reason for optimism that could change. They have positioned themselves as an AFC playoff contender and boast one of the stingiest defenses in the league. Josh Allen has been a bit of a mixed bag, but if he can put it all together, the Bills have the quarterback to lead them to a playoff victory.
New York Jets - Healthy Sam Darnold
The 2019 season for the Jets has been a disaster, and hope for the future is bleak. Yet, this team did not have its franchise quarterback for three games early in the season, putting them in an 0-4 hole before Sam Darnold returned. Sure, there was the “seeing ghosts” moment and a loss to Miami, but the Jets are 3-4 with Darnold under center and he continues to show flashes of his potential. A full season of Darnold and perhaps the narrative is different.
Miami Dolphins - 3 2020 First-Round Picks
The Dolphins sought to tank the 2019 season and appeared destined for the No. 1 overall pick. Then they won two games. Still, that should not halt the tank because not only will Miami likely net a top-five pick, but they have two more first-round picks courtesy of deals it made with the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers, which should set the team up for a robust rebuild process.
Baltimore Ravens - Lamar Jackson
Both the long- and short-term future of the Ravens looks bright with Lamar Jackson having a breakout season. The second-year quarterback has thrust himself into the MVP conversation and has the Ravens as one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC. It may not be a long wait for the Ravens to reach the Super Bowl with their new franchise quarterback.
Pittburgh Steelers -- Defense on the Rise
The Steelers may not know where they stand at the quarterback position, but they have reason to be encouraged with emerging young talent on defense. Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt, Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick are all making their impact felt and having Pro Bowl-caliber seasons. The Steelers took a risk in giving up a first-round pick in Fitzpatrick, but he has been perhaps the biggest star on their defense with five interceptions thought his first eight games.
Cleveland Browns -- Promising Talent
The 2019 season for the Browns has not gone expected, but there is still reason for hope. Despite a shaky start to the season Baker Mayfield has settled in nicely over his last few games in November, and Nick Chubb is a top-five running back in the league. If Cleveland can shore up its offensive line, they still have the offensive talent to compete in the AFC North.
Cincinnati Bengals -- Potential No. 1 Pick
The 2019 season has been one to forget for the Bengals, but it could also mark the first step in a rebuilding process. The only winless team in the NFL is primed for the first overall pick in April, and they could find their new franchise quarterback in LSU’s Joe Burrow.
Texans -- 3 More Years (at least) of Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Hopkins
Deshaun Watson has improved each year in the league, and the connection he has formed with DeAndre Hopkins has been one of the most dynamic in the league. Hopkins is under contract through the 2022 season, but as long as he has Watson throwing to him it’s hard to see the 27-year-old slowing down as he continues to put up monster numbers. Meanwhile, Watson keeps winning games and keeping the Texans in the playoff hunt despite a depleted defense and lackluster offensive line. If Houston can put the right pieces in place elsewhere, the Texans could be a dangerous team on the rise.
Indianapolis Colts -- Jacoby Brissett
Many wrote the Colts off following Andrew Luck’s unexpected retirement before the start of the 2019 season. But Jacoby Brissett appears to be here to stay as he has the Colts in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars -- Minshew-Mania
Sure, Nick Foles is back and still under contract. But the 2019 season for the Jaguars turned into the Year of Gardner Minshew — the team’s mustachioed quarterback who had Paul Bunyan-like tales about him. Minshew showed some promise in the games he played, making him either a valuable trade chip, or potentially the next franchise quarterback as Foles has a history of battling injuries and having difficulty staying on the field.
Tennessee Titans -- A New QB
The Titans are getting by with Ryan Tannehill at the moment, but realistically, he is not a long-term answer at the most important position. Marcus Mariota appears to be done in Tennessee, but whatever happens the rest of the 2019 season, the Titans will be in the market for a new quarterback. While they are not in position for a top-10 draft pick, they are in luck. The 2020 quarterback class is deep, and Tua Tagavailoa’s hip injury could cause him to fall. There is also Georgia QB Jake Fromm or Oklahoma standout Jalen Hurts who could be available in the mid-to-late first round.
Chiefs -- Perennial Super Bowl Threat
When Patrick Mahomes burst onto the scene last year, the perception of the Chiefs changed. They went from being a playoff-contending team to a Super Bowl contender thanks to their new franchise quarterback. They came oh so close to taking down the Patriots in the AFC Championship last year, and while their defense has some worrisome holes, the team is a legitimate threat to reach the Super Bowl as long as Mahomes is leading the Chiefs’ high-octane offense.
Oakland Raiders -- Players Buying into Jon Gruden
The Jon Gruden era did not get off to a good start last year, and things continued to look bleak in training camp amid the Antonio Brown fiasco. Yet, the Raiders remain in the hunt for the playoffs down the homestretch and Gruden certainly deserves credit for taking a team many did not expect much from this season.
Los Angeles Chargers -- Cool New Stadium
The Philip Rivers era is winding down, Melvin Gordon likely is not back next year, and the team has fallen into mediocrity after reaching the playoffs in 2018. It’s hard to find much optimism with the Chargers right now, but they are ditching the soccer stadium they currently play in and will share a new state-of-the-art stadium with the Los Angeles Rams next year that will at least generate some buzz around the team.
Denver Broncos -- The Unknown
There is not a whole lot for the Broncos to be excited about either, other than the great unknown. Drew Lock has yet to play a game in 2019, but with how unprepared Dwayne Haskins has looked in Washington, perhaps it is for the best. Lock is a second-round pick, so he does not have much hype around him, but the Broncos have had a revolving door of quarterbacks since Peyton Manning retired. Nobody really knows how Lock will perform in the NFL, and because of that, there is at least hope he can be the Broncos’ answer at quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys -- A Future With Dak Prescott
It's not clear whether Jason Garrett will return as the Cowboys' head coach in 2020, but one way or another, Dak Prescott, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, will. In his fourth NFL season, Prescott has tossed 21 touchdowns and thrown for an NFL-leading 3,433 yards. He's in line to become one of the NFL's highest-paid quarterbacks in 2020.
Philadelphia Eagles -- The Awesomeness of Brandon Brooks
Brandon Brooks is one of the most interesting people in the NFL. Not only has he become an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness, but the 30-year-old is a two-time Pro-Bowler that's arguably the best player on the Eagles. While the Eagles' 2019 season has been disappointing, Brooks is having another Pro-Bowl caliber season, despite the fact that he suffered a torn achilles in the team's loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional round this past January.
New York Giants -- A Bounce-Back From Saquon Barkley
After one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, Saquon Barkley has had a disappointing second season in the NFL. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year missed three games with a high-ankle sprain, and in five games since returning, Barkley has averaged just 2.8 yards-per-carry. Whether it's a chance to get healthy this offseason, Pat Shurmur being replaced or a combination of the two, Barkley's future still looks extremely bright.
Washington Redskins -- A Top Five Pick in the 2020 NFL Draft
At 2-9, the 2019 Redskins season has been a disaster, so much so that it feels like a lifetime ago that Jay Gruden was coaching the team. With that, though, the Redskins are on track to draft a franchise-altering talent with a top-five pick. That my be Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who has 27 sacks since the start of the 2018 season. It may be Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, who could be the successor to seven-time Pro-Bowler Trent Williams. Heck, the possibility exists that with such a high selection, the Redskins are tempted to draft a quarterback in the first round for the second time in as many years. In any event, they will have optionality with such a high pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
New Orleans Saints -- The NFL's Best Wide Receiver
It's unclear how many more seasons future Hall of Famer Drew Brees will play, as he's set to turn 41 in January. But the presence of Michael Thomas may make him want to hold off on retiring as long as possible. Thomas, 26, leads the NFL with 104 catches and 1,242 yards in 2019. Thomas was an All-Pro in 2018, and already has over 5,000 receiving yards in less than four full NFL seasons. He's on a Hall of Fame track, and is signed through 2024.
Carolina Panthers -- Christian McCaffrey
The Panthers' starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season could be Kyle Allen, former NFL MVP Cam Newton or someone not currently on their roster. Whoever lines up under center for the Panthers in 2020 will be able to lean on superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, who is having a season in 2019 that may allow him to finish in the top five in NFL MVP voting. The 23-year-old has rushed for a league-leading 1,123 yards, has 586 receiving yards and 16 combined touchdowns in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- The Best Wide Receiving Duo in the NFL
It's unclear what the future of former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston is past 2019, when his rookie contract is set to expire. But whether it's Winston or another quarterback that leads the Buccaneers into the future, the team should feel excited about the might that they have at the wide receiver position. Mike Evans, who is signed through 2023, has 62 catches for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. Meanwhile, Chris Godwin, a third-year pro out of Penn State, is in the midst of a breakout season, as he has 70 catches for 1,071 yards and nine touchdowns.
Atlanta Falcons -- The Chance for One More Run With Matt Ryan/Julio Jones
At 3-8, the Falcons have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL in 2019. That said, 34-year-old quarterback Matt Ryan, a former league MVP, is just a season removed from throwing for 4,924 yards and 35 touchdowns. Two-time All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, now 30, is on pace to top the 1,000 receiving yards mark for the sixth consecutive season. If the Falcons can retool offensively around their two franchise icons, while rebuilding a defensive unit that's ranked 26th overall, they could potentially make one more run with this duo. After trading wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots for a second-round pick in October, the Falcons will have three picks in the first two rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Green Bay Packers -- Aaron Rodgers' Second Act
After the most disappointing season of his career from a team perspective in 2018, the Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy, the only coach Aaron Rodgers had ever had. His successor, 40-year-old Matt LaFleur, has found instant success with Rodgers, who has tossed 18 touchdowns and just two picks in 2019. The Packers will enter the final month of the 2019 regular season as part of a cluster of teams in the NFC with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. Now 35, Rodgers has a chance to push his way into being one of the top five quarterbacks of all-time before his career concludes.
Minnesota Vikings -- The Chance to Silence Critics
The Vikings will enter December with a chance to win the NFC North, and an outside shot at securing one of the top two seeds in the NFC playoffs. To do either of those things, Kirk Cousins will have to continue what's been the best season of his career, as he's thrown for 21 touchdowns and been picked off just three times. In his NFL career, Cousins is a game under .500 in December. He has the chance to exercise some demons this December and set the Vikings up well heading into the postseason.
Chicago Bears -- Something Other Than This
The hangover of the double-doink has resulted in one of the most disappointing seasons in Chicago Bears' history. Mitchell Trubisky has had such a disappointing season that it's hard to imagine him returning as the team's starting quarterback in 2020, despite the fact that releasing him would come with a cap hit of over $9 million. After looking like one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL in his first season as Bears' head coach, Matt Nagy has struggled to stay committed to the run in 2019. Post Jordan Howard, the Bears have the 29th-ranked rushing attack this season. It's possible that Trubisky returns as the team's starting quarterback in 2020, but it feels like something has to give.
Detroit Lions -- The Marriage of Matthew Stafford and Darrell Bevell
Prior to fracturing multiple muscles in his back, Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford was having one of the best seasons of his career, having thrown for 2,499 and 19 touchdowns in the first half of the 2019 season. While there are legitimate concerns to have about how head coach Matt Patricia's defense has performed in 2019, Stafford's career appears to have been revived by the addition of new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who had previously been Russell Wilson's offensive coordinator in Seattle.
San Francisco 49ers -- The Potential for a Hall of Fame Career From Nick Bosa
After going 4-12 in 2018, the 49ers have become a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Part of that is because Jimmy Garoppolo has stayed healthy, and head coach Kyle Shanahan has helped the team to build an elite rushing attack. But, while playing in the most competitive division in the NFL, the 49ers have limited opponents to just 14.8 points per game. That's partially because of a dominant rookie season by edge rusher Nick Bosa, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Bosa has 14 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one interception. The 22-year-old has a chance to be one of the most consistent defensive forces in the NFL for the next decade.
Seattle Seahawks -- Continued Stability
The San Francisco 49ers currently lead the NFC West at 10-1, but were 4-12 in 2018. The Los Angeles Rams won the NFC Championship last season, but appear likely to miss the playoffs in 2018. The Arizona Cardinals went an NFL-worst 3-13 a season ago, but appear to have something special in 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. But while the success of other teams in the NFC West has fluctuated over the course of the decade, the Seahawks have had a winning record every year since 2012, Russell Wilson's rookie year. Now 30, Wilson is having the most dominant season of his illustrious career, and even at 68, there's no indication that Pete Carroll plans to retire any time soon.
Los Angeles Rams -- Seeing How The Team Will Retool This Offseason
Rather quickly, the Rams have gotten into an unenviable position. They're in third place in the NFC West, with the fourth-place Arizona Cardinals on the rise as well. They have just three picks in the first five rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, and don't have a first-round pick until 2022 after trading for All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey earlier this season. Despite the fact that he's still averaging over four yards per carry, Sean McVay has been overly conservative in his use of Todd Gurley in 2019, which perhaps makes sense when you consider he has a degenerative knee condition and the Rams can't get out of his contract until after 2021. Meanwhile, Jared Goff, who signed a four-year/$134 million deal before the season, has regressed in 2019, as he's thrown just 11 touchdown passes and been picked off 12 times. How the Rams will retool with limited resources should be one of the most interesting storylines to follow this offseason.
Arizona Cardinals -- Stability at the Quarterback Position
A year after posting the worst record in the NFL, the Cardinals are 3-7-1. That said, they have three losses that have come by a touchdown or less. The Cardinals have been a much more competitive team in 2019, largely because rookie quarterback Kyler Murray has thrown 14 touchdowns to just five interceptions, while rushing for over 400 yards. For a franchise that's struggled to find stability at the quarterback position outside of a few years with Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer, Murray looks like he'll be the team's signal caller for the next decade plus.