Every year at least a couple of teams come out of nowhere to make the playoffs, today we are going to profile the teams most likely to make that jump this year.
Nobody talks about the Bears but they had a great offseason and look poised to make terrific strides this season in the NFC Central. The Bears started the offseason right by hiring Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. Nagy may have been the best Head Coaching hire of the past offseason.
General Manager Ryan Pace did a great job, bringing in wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson, along with athletic tight end Trey Burton to help second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Pace also had some nice picks in the draft, nabbing stud linebacker Roquan Smith, center James Daniels and wide receiver Anthony Miller in the first three rounds.
The Bears are headed in the right direction and if Trubisky can have a solid year, 7 to 9 wins is not out of the question.
The Ravens picked Louisville standout quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round, so this is a make or break season for starting quarterback Joe Flacco.
If Flacco can return to his form of a few seasons ago and the defense plays up to expectations, the Ravens very well could find themselves sitting above the AFC North when all is said and done.
I think either the Ravens or Bengals will make the playoffs this year. The Bengals did what needed to be done on the offensive line by signing Cordy Glenn in free agency and drafting Ohio state center Billy Price. On offense, they have weapons like A.J.Green, Gio Bernard, and Joe Mixon, and if they stay healthy they will be able to score.
On defense, they improved at linebacker by signing the Bills leading tackler last year in Preston Brown. Draft pick Jessie Bates should help fill a hole at the safety position. This group can make the playoffs, but of course the question in Cincinnati is always the same, can Marvin Lewis win a playoff game?
The Giants are now loaded on offense–led by quarterback Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. The offensive line, which has stunk for years, should also be improved with Nate Solder and Will Hernandez coming into the mix. Then you throw in the addition of Penn State all-everything running back Saquon Barkley and the Giants will be able to put points up in bunches.
The defense was excellent just two years ago and they have a lot of talent on that side of the ball. With that offense, even if they have an average defensive season it could catapult the Giants into the playoffs.
The Chargers may just have the best defense in the AFC as they have stockpiled edge rushers and added a certain Florida State safety to an already good defensive backfield.
Maybe the biggest addition is on offense where the Chargers added center Mike Pouncey, who should immediately improve an offensive line that struggled last year. With Melvin Gordon carrying the rock and quarterback Phillip Rivers throwing it, the Chargers could be a very dangerous team.
If the Texans could stay healthy they would be a Super Bowl contender! DeShaun Watson, in the short time he played before he was injured last year, looked like the real deal. They don’t have an overabundance of offensive weapons but they do on defense.
If Watson has a solid year and keeps turnovers to a minimum the Texans defense is good enough to take this team deep into the playoffs.
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