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Analysis

Three NFL teams set to stumble this season

Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) reacts to being tackled by the Kansas City Chiefs defense during the fourth quarter in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is three weeks away. With that, last season is now in the past and new stories and stars will emerge. However, there will be teams that stumble and fall in comparison to a year ago. Here are three teams that will stumble in the 2020 NFL season:

New England Patriots

The Patriots have had a tough offseason. They lost franchise cornerstone, Tom Brady, in free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In response to the loss of Brady, the Patriots signed Cam Newton, who only played in two games last season. Newton is not the same quarterback he was when he won MVP. He has suffered multiple injuries and has not been able to produce when healthy. In his last eight starts in Carolina, Newton threw nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions with an 0-8 record.

The Patriots received multiple blows through the wave of NFL players opting out of the season. The Patriots had the most opt-outs with eight, including linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon.

Two big pieces of the defense will not be there this year and the loss of Kyle Van Noy in free agency leaves holes at the linebacker position. The defense will not be the same this year and will take a step down with the offense also going down with the loss of Tom Brady.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are another team who had a rough offseason. They lost key players, such as Stefon Diggs, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander. The defense is going to take a step down with the loss of the four-time Pro Bowler, Griffin, who has recorded 57 sacks since 2014. The secondary is left with Mike Hughes and a pair of rookies in Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler. Despite having one of the best safety tandems in the league, the rest of the secondary is weak.

Stefon Diggs was traded to the Buffalo Bills, meaning Kirk Cousins has lost one of his top options in the offense. Cousins had a great season last year with Diggs, who stepped up in the absence of Adam Thielen during the middle and late parts of the season.

Despite the return of Thielen, Cousins is going to struggle without Diggs, who has recorded two straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. The addition of Justin Jefferson in the first round of the draft helps, but the loss of Diggs will be felt throughout the season.

Houston Texans

The Texans have had a terrible offseason. Bill O’Brien has proved to be one of the worst General Managers in the NFL. He started the offseason by trading away All-Pro wide receiver Deandre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for an injury-prone running back in David Johnson. The offense got worse with the loss of one of the league’s top wide receivers. They did acquire Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams, but he is nowhere close to the level of Hopkins.

The defense lost one of its top players in D.J. Reader, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency. J.J. Watt has missed 32 games over the past four seasons. The secondary didn’t make any big additions and still remains on the weaker side. The defense is not bad, but expect less production from them, especially from the defensive line with the loss of Reader.

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