Every NFL team is under pressure to win obviously. But every year there are teams who’re under more pressure than others. The teams under the most pressure are that due to a number of reasons. They could have a head coach whose job is on the line like Matt Nagy. Or maybe they made a move to bring in a superstar to put them over the hump as the Tennessee Titans did with Julio Jones.
Nonetheless, in this writing, we take a look at the teams under the most pressure to win in 2021. And we start conveniently enough with the Titans.
NFL Teams Under The Most Pressure To Win In 2021
Tennesee Titans: Bringing In Jones
Two years ago, the Titans had a special run that took them to the AFC championship. Last year, Derrick Henry had a 2,000-yard season, only to lose in the wild card round. Entering 2021, the Titans went all-in on winning a Lombardi by bringing in Jones to complement rising phenom A.J. Brown.
These three titans (pun intended) are the best-skilled position trio in the league. Ryan Tannehill has had an incredibly efficient two seasons under center, owning a 55 to 13 TD-INT ratio. Barring injury, there’s no reason the Titans shouldn’t be a top-five scoring offense again.
The biggest unknown will be how transitioning from play-caller Arthur Smith to Todd Downing impacts the offense. Otherwise, the Titans’ focus will be on improving the 24th ranked scoring defense from 2020. First-round pick Caleb Farley, as well as Janoris Jenkins and Bud Dupree, were brought in to fix just that.
Although their core pieces are signed for the near future, 2021 could be their best shot at winning it all. Henry’s coming off of 681 carries in two years while Jones is 32 and will be coming out of his peak next year.
Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy’s Last Chance
Out of all the teams under the most pressure, the Chicago Bears stick out because of their head coach. The Bears’ experience under Nagy has left a lot to be desired in the last two seasons. They were 29th in 2019 and 26th last year in offensive yards. In those respective years, they were 29th and 22nd in scoring.
Nagy was brought in to be a creative offensive mind, but most of what we’ve seen since 2018 has been a below-average and uninspired offense. He’s now free of Mitchell Trubisky and has a potential franchise quarterback in Justin Fields to work with. The excuses have run out and it’s time for Nagy to show he belongs.
His defense is still stacked with names like Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, and Roquan Smith. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman is back after opting out of 2020. And Desmond Trufant was brought in to replace the departed Kyle Fuller. The defense has regressed from 2018 when it was the most feared in the league. Last year they finished 13th in scoring and passing defense, and 14th in run defense. If the defense can be in the top ten and the offense is opened up with Fields, Nagy can save his job.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger Retirement Tour
The Pittsburgh Steelers have the biggest range of outcomes out of anyone in 2021. My colleague thinks they can win the division, while another site power ranks them as the league’s eighth-worst team. Regardless of ranking, the Steelers are one of the teams under the most pressure thanks to this likely being the final year with Ben Roethlisberger. After an 11-0 start last year, the Steelers are under pressure to rebound from an embarrassing finish.
The defense has lost some talent from last year, especially in the secondary. Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton are the only proven cornerbacks on the roster. The loss of Dupree only puts more pressure on the trio of T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Stephon Tuitt. However, the biggest unknown for the team is their offensive line.
After the retirement of David DeCastro, 23-year-old Chukwuma Okorafor is the longest-tenured o-lineman. And Trai Turner who had a down year in 2020 is now the most recognizable name on their line. Roethlisberger will need this group to grow up and grow together in a lightning-quick fashion.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quest To Repeat
There are two sides to this coin. On one hand, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just won the Super Bowl and Tom Brady has cemented himself as the GOAT. The other side is Brady and the Bucs just brought back their entire starting lineup on both sides of the ball.
Brady is the GOAT in football, but by winning back-to-back Super Bowls without Bill Belichick, he’d be on another pedestal. And the last time there were repeat Super Bowl champions? They happened to be the 2003-04 New England Patriots led by Brady.
Brady is under contract for next season but is 43 and playing on a year-by-year basis. If the Buccaneers have a disappointing finish, Brady could very well call it a career or try for one last run in 2022. They’re one of the teams under the most pressure and with the highest expectations. The fact that they have the second-best Super Bowl odds according to Vegasinsider shows that.
Teams Will Shine Or Falter Under Pressure
These four teams under the most pressure will either shine or falter. The Titans and Buccaneers should be solid, but the Steelers and Bears will leave us waiting. There are other teams I could’ve mentioned in this exercise. The Dallas Cowboys have lofty expectations with the return of Dak Prescott. And the Arizona Cardinals have to make a jump in year three with Kliff Kingsbury. These are the teams under the most pressure in 2021.