Barnwell: How the NFLs nine worst teams can enter 2022 on a high note

    Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for ESPN.com.

After Week 11 of the NFL season, we’re essentially down to 23 teams competing for 14 playoff spots. The remaining nine franchises have no more than a 5% chance of making it to the postseason, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), leaving them to rely on a long winning streak to have any serious hopes of getting in.

For those under-.500 teams, there’s still work to be done. While hope for their 2021 playoff chances might be all but extinguished, a solid end might help shape their chances in 2022. Take the Cowboys, who hit their bye last season at 2-7. With Dak Prescott done for the year, they didn’t have much to play for, but they won four of their next six games during the second half and forced 16 takeaways over the final seven weeks. That hunger for takeaways continued into 2021, as Trevon Diggs & Co. forced 14 takeaways across their first six games to get off to a 5-1 start.

Let’s run through the teams that are all but eliminated from the postseason hunt and try to find something for them to focus on accomplishing over the remainder of the season. I’ll start with the team we’ll see play the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. The Giants haven’t won a playoff game since they beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI nearly a decade ago; how can they use the rest of 2021 to help break that streak in 2022?


New York Giants (3-6)

Task for the rest of the season: Get the big three offensive draft picks on the field at the same time.

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