What-If Wednesday, Part 3: Close to contenders

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As the halfway point of the NFL regular season creeps up on football fans, the teams start to separate the real from the fake. This week, we will be looking at the start of the middle of the pack teams. To begin, we will start with the New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns.


New York Giants (2-5)

What looked like a glimmer of hope has soon disappeared for Giants fans. “Danny Dimes” is human and can make mistakes. Since he is just a rookie, we will just give him the benefit of the doubt that he will improve to become a decent NFL quarterback. The Giants also took Saquon Barkley with the second pick last year, which has turned out well for them so far. Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard give enough targets that could give their offense a decent look.

What the Giants need is a young star to build their defense around. Who better to kickstart a defensive rebuild than with Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard? The new-look Giants could run a defense similar to the Indy’s Tampa 2. Leonard had seven sacks as a rookie and it looks like those numbers could only go up. Even though the Giants still need time, this team has a chance to go .500 with this stud on defense.


Los Angeles Chargers (2-5)

Going into this season people already had questions about this Chargers team. Should they pay Melvin Gordon? Can the offense stay healthy? Will Philip Rivers have another kid? As long as the offense can stay healthy, it is clearly a well-oiled machine. The Chargers need to upgrade an extremely weak defense, and where better to start than at defensive tackle?

Panthers DT Gerald McCoy will not only be a defensive presence for this rebuilding Chargers defense, but he will also help establish a work ethic for the young defensive unit. A fully healthy Chargers team has the ability to win ten games and may even make the Wild Card after the regular season ends.


Detriot Lions (2-3-1)

The Lions are so close to being good. Some people will blame it on a roster filled with holes or because of poor officiating. Regardless, this Lions team isn’t perfect--far from it, in fact. The Lions offense has been efficient this year with Matt Stafford at the helm. Their defense on the other hand? Not so great. 

Their defense needs a corner like a fat kid needs cake. The Lions are currently giving up about 290 passing yards per game, third-worst in the NFL. The Lions could make an already tough division even better by sliding eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson into the defensive unit. Peterson has 23 career interceptions and the ability to slow down receivers like Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. With Peterson, maybe the Lions can finally win a playoff game for the first time since 1991.


Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)

Regardless of what you think of him on the field, everyone wants to hang out with Gardner Minshew II. The guy looks like the human form of a can of PBR. All jokes aside, this Jacksonville team is on the rise, but like the Lions, it runs into a few holes in the roster. The Jaguars already have a strong defense and an established run game, so why not fill a few of the roster spots with some help with the aerial attack.

To give Minshew a few more weapons, why not bring in one of the fastest receivers in the league, Michael Thomas. “Can’t Guard Mike” has been a gamechanger for the Saints ever since he put on the black and gold and I’d expect him to do the same as a Jag. Sure, Minshew won’t be as good as Brees, but with a good defense, run game, and now receiver core, this Jags team can easily be the top dog in their division.


Cleveland Browns (2-4)

Although I have no proof, I would like to say that I called this team overrated. The Browns still need a lot of work to be the offensive powerhouse they were supposed to be at the beginning of the year. The skill players are there, but something else is missing. Someone to give Mayfield more time to give it to his strong pass-catching core.

David Bakhtiari is an offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers. Many people haven’t heard of him, but he is part of the reason for Aaron Rodgers’ greatness. With Bakhtiari as part of his offensive line, Rodgers had about three seconds to get a pass off, something Baker Mayfield could sure use. Even with Bakhtiari, I only see the Browns at about eight wins. They need to get rid of Freddie Kitchens before we can see them as a real team in the NFL.

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