Some NFL teams deserve all the typical summer hype because their strong trajectories, fueled by smart moves, should match expectations from hopeful fans.
Along these lines, the Buffalo Bills come to mind. Over the past two or three years, Buffalo has brilliantly fleshed out the roster around Josh Allen, going from six wins in 2018 to 13 and an AFC title game appearance last year.
A handful of teams seem to have positioned themselves similarly this offseason. It all starts with quarterback, of course, but strong roster additions have the following teams on the right path, starting with an improvement in the win column in 2021. Only teams that were under .500 last year and haven't made the playoffs in the last two years were considered.
After 16 years of the Marvin Lewis era, the Cincinnati Bengals finally got turned in the right direction by taking Joe Burrow at No. 1 last year. But years of negligence to the offensive line came to a head when he made it in just 10 games before suffering a season-ending injury.
Cincinnati made serious steps toward correcting this longstanding issue this offseason, though, most notably by adding Riley Reiff in free agency to play right tackle. Last year over 1,003 snaps, the veteran allowed one sack and was flagged once, earning a 71.4 Pro Football Focus grade (a starter grade). He replaces Bobby Hart and his 66.3 PFF grade, his first time since 2015 posting above a 57.6.
At guard, second-rounder Jackson Carman will replace a hodgepodge of backup-worthy names like Alex Redmond. Add in the return of line coach Frank Pollack, and the Bengals made strong strides in their worst area.
Not to be overlooked, of course, is the addition of Ja'Marr Chase at fifth overall. He had 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns with Burrow in 2019 at LSU and only amplifies a wideout group also boasting Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Big-money defensive additions over the last two years like Trae Waynes, D.J. Reader and Trey Hendrickson hint at a turnaround on that side of the ball, too.
Accentuating the talent around a prospect like Burrow could provide a dramatic boost in the win column for a team that's won a combined six games in the last two seasons.
Maybe it seems a little unfair to list a team that held the No. 1 pick and landed a possible generational prospect at quarterback, sure.
But the Jacksonville Jaguars did quite a bit more than simply draft Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence is the headliner, of course. One doesn't have to look far to unearth whispers of comparisons to legendary names for the guy who threw 90 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions over three seasons at Clemson.