Entering each NFL season, we know that typically there will be turnover as far as playoff teams go. On average, nearly half of the clubs that qualify the previous year fail to make it the following season.
With this knowledge, let's look at some of the teams that could make the leap into the postseason in 2013 after missing out a year ago.
- New Orleans Saints
|Photo by: Derick E. Hingle|
- Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, it's a huge leap to have a team that only won 2 games the previous year be in the playoff hunt the next, but with talent at the skill positions, a new quarterback and improving defense, the Chiefs could make noise in 2013. The duo of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined for 8 TDs and 20 INTs last season. With Alex Smith taking over as the starter, those numbers could flip. The big weapons are there with Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster and Dwayne Bowe, and the offensive line got a boost with the addition of first round draft pick Eric Fisher. Another benefit for Kansas City could be their schedule. The first time they go up against a playoff team from 2012 is Week 7.
- New York Giants
Halfway through 2012, the Giants were coasting at 6-2 and looked to be heading back to the playoffs to defend their Super Bowl title. However, in the second half of the season they slumped badly, winning just 3 of their final 8 to fall a game short of the postseason. New York really struggled on the defensive side of the ball last year, finishing 25th in rush defense and 28th against the pass. Also, despite some big performances early on and a 5-touchdown outing against the Eagles in Week 17, Eli Manning was all over the place. The run game will change in 2013, with Tom Coughlin turning the ball over to David Wilson and Andre Brown. With the injury to Robert Griffin III, the constant up and down play of the Cowboys, and the new regime in Philly, the NFC East could be Big Blue's for the taking.
- Miami Dolphins
Miami was extremely active in free agency, signing Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Brent Grimes. Two major questions coming into 2013 for the Dolphins are their running game and forcing turnovers. They will look to Lamar Miller in the run game, who had just 51 carries for 250 yards as a rookie last year. The defense will have to be much better at getting the ball to the offense, as they forced just 16 turnovers in 2012. Only Indianapolis, Kansas City and Philadelphia were worse. If second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill can take that next step, it could put Miami in serious playoff contention.
- Chicago Bears
Lovie Smith was fired even with a 10-6 record in part because Chicago missed the playoffs, but mainly due to their 3-5 finish. GM Phil Emery brought in Marc Trestman as Smith's replacement, and there looks to be much more of a focus on all aspects of the offense in 2013. During Lovie's tenure, the offense only managed to finish in the top 15 once. The offensive line will again be a focus this year, adding Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson in free agency, and drafting Kyle Long out of Oregon. The defense probably won't force turnovers at the rate they did last year (44 total), but they should still be pretty solid. If Jay Cutler can make plays and the revamped line can protect him better, the Bears will be in the playoff mix this season.