There has been a parade of early season suspensions in the NFL ranging from full seasons all the way down to just one game. Some of the suspensions will affect some team’s playoff chances. Look for the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys to be affected the most.
We’re still waiting to hear back on Brady’s suspension but it’s looking like he’ll get at least two games and maybe four. The challenge here is that the New England Patriots lost a lot off of their roster and Brady was supposed to be the linchpin that keeps things together. It’s hard to say whether it all matters for their NFL odds as nobody really believes that the Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills are ready to take the division away from the Patriots. However, if one of those teams is legit and the Patriots have a 1-3 start, the suspension will have done plenty of damage.
Suspended 10 Games
Greg Hardy, Dallas Cowboys
Suspended Four Games
Victor Butler, New York Giants
Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys
There are some significant suspensions in here with three above-average contributors missing the first month of the season. Gates might be the biggest household name but the Chargers probably won’t miss him as much as you think. Lardarious Green is a high-upside tight end that has been waiting in the wings, so this could be his time to break out. And remember that Gates is up there in years, so missing the first month of the season might keep him fresh for a playoff run.
As for the Cowboys, they appear to be facing some tough times. Yes, this is a team that won 12 games last season but the NFC East has proven to be a revolving door. Without Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain, the team will be robbed of its best pass rusher and it’s best linebacker from 2014. They have Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans and the New York Giants in the first month of the season. Margins are thin in the NFC East, so don’t be surprised if this team’s playoff chances are hampered by a sluggish start.
As for Richardson, he is a notable loss for the Jets but this is a team that was deemed to be rebuilding anyway. Their playoff chances were bad with him and are worse without him.
Suspended Three Games
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Losing Bell for three games is a notable loss for the Steelers will hurt. The AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in all of football, so the Steelers can’t afford to give away wins. Their first three games are at New England and St. Louis, and home to San Francisco. While they should beat the 49ers at home in Week 2, winning on the road in the other two spots makes it that much tougher without their stud in the backfield. A 2-1 or 3-0 start puts this team in great shape to make the playoffs but that appears to be a stretch to expect without Bell.
Suspended One Game
Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills
Datone Jones, Green Bay Packers
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Blount won’t be a big loss here and missing Dareus and Jones for a game probably won’t impact each team’s playoff chances. However, both are key cogs in the middle of their team’s defensive line and they could impact the Week 1 situation. The Bills host the Indianapolis Colts and losing Dareus could be the difference between a win and loss. That game was going to be close as is. As for the Packers, they’re at the Chicago Bears. They should still win that contest but if Chicago is improved at all and plays with some fire, the game will be more challenging for the Packers without Jones.
Suspended Entire Season
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Dion Jordan, Miami Dolphins
The Browns will miss Gordon but they played almost all of last season without him and have endured a number of his off-field transgressions, so this isn’t exactly something they weren’t expecting. It’ll hurt to miss a Pro Bowl receiver – especially since their quarterbacks need plenty of help. As for Dion Jordan, he’s done nothing so far in his NFL career. While it would have been nice to see if he can develop, he’s been useless and the Dolphins weren’t expecting much from him anyway.
Other Early Season Suspensions
LaRon Landry, Free Agent
Eben Britton, Free Agent
Ahmad Bradshaw, Free Agent
Trey Watts, St. Louis Rams