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5 New Teams Poised to Make the NFL Playoffs in 2019

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Dec 16, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

With the Preseason rolling into its second week, NFL teams are getting a better picture of what their 53-man rosters will look like. Some teams made huge free agent moves and raised their 2019 postseason stock. Others turned to the draft to acquire depth and talent. With all of the changes, we will see some realignment in the postseason picture this coming season.

This article ranks five teams that missed the playoffs last year but will have high chances of making the postseason in 2019.

1. Cleveland Browns

The Browns have undergone a complete rebuild in the last two years, and this time they might be successful. With Hue Jackson gone, Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield put on a show as rookies. Cleveland paired Odell Beckham with Jarvis Landry this offseason and also signed Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon to play alongside Myles Garrett. This team might have the most talent in the whole NFL, but they have to put together a playoff run for all of the remodeling to be considered a success.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers went 9-6-1 last season, blowing early-season success with a pitiful late-season collapse. The drama around Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown only amplified the situation. However, the Steelers still have a Pro Bowl running back and wide receiver. That’s all Ben Roethlisberger needs to have success in the offense. Throw in three Pro Bowlers on the offensive line and the defense that has led the NFL in sacks the last two seasons, and the Steelers have a better team than they’re given credit for.

3. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have a roster full of talent, which makes it hard to understand how the team missed the playoffs last year. In Kirk Cousins’ first season with the team, Minnesota went 8-7-1. The Vikings have several great pass catchers, but the team has struggled to run the ball. A healthy season from Dalvin Cook might turn the team’s running woes around. The Vikings finished fourth in the league in total defense last season, meaning they’re all good on that side of the ball. Minnesota has a playoff caliber team, they just need to put it all together during the regular season.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Initially, it’s hard to see how the Falcons went 7-9 in 2018. Matt Ryan quietly had a great season. He and Julio Jones led the fourth-best passing offense in the NFL. Unfortunately, the Falcons defense finished 28th in total defense last season. Without Devonta Freeman, the run game also abandoned Atlanta and the team finished 27th in the league in rushing. So long as the Falcons have Ryan and a dominant passing game, they should be included in playoff discussions.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are just over a year removed from facing the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Jacksonville still had the fifth-best total defense last season, but the team went an abysmal 5-11. The collapse of Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette offensively contributed to the fall along with injuries to the offensive line. It’s hard to tell what version of Nick Foles we’ll see this coming season, but he could be Jacksonville’s savior. Then again, he could also just revert to being a backup.

Honorable mentions

Carolina Panthers

2018 record: 7-9

Green Bay Packers

2018 record: 6-9-1

Oakland Raiders

2018 record: 4-12

San Francisco 49ers

2018 record: 4-12

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