NFL Detroit Lions

5 Sleepers in 2013 NFL Playoff Race

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5 Sleepers in 2013 NFL Playoff Race

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe but this NFL season is already more than halfway done. I am sure there were not many projections where head coach Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs stood at 9-0. In any event, this blue-collar approach has them possibly contending for Super Bowl glory. In their own division, however, resides a quarterback who you may have heard of in Peyton Manning.

Despite somewhat cooling off from an extraordinary start, Manning still leads a ridiculously high powered Denver Broncos offence. Of course Tom Brady and his New England Patriots will always play some kind of role in the Lombardi Trophy chase. The Indianapolis Colts led by second-year star quarterback Andrew Luck have picked up several signature wins.

NFC contenders have also emerged from the rest. Competition between Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks and Collin Kapernick’s San Francisco 49er’s for NFC West supremacy will conclude likely with a Wildcard spot being rewarded as consolation. Mediocrity has marked four embattled teams in the NFC East. One of these franchises, however, will host a Playoff game. There are three teams atop the NFC North that are in battle. Two clubs realistically will compete for the NFC South title. When you look into the standings from both conferences, there likely five AFC spots already in place. Similar circumstances basically are true for the other conference. I still believe there will be heavy competition for each of sixth spot. With that in mind, here are five teams that have a shot at impacting postseason play.

Nick Mamary is a New York Jets writer for Follow him on Twitter @NickMamary1, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Tennessee Titans

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Locker has played well since returning from injury. He brings mobility and arm strength to a solid receiving corps. The Tennessee Titans play underrated defense as well. Even though the Jacksonville Jaguars beat them, I think they will still play a role in the mix.

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4. New York Jets

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

As I have said, there is hope for the New York Jets if they are more consistent. Their strength of pass rush serves well for stopping opposing offenses. Geno Smith will be a solid quarterback when he cuts out turnovers. Healthy additions like Jeff Cumberland and Santonio Holmes will help.

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3. Carolina Panthers

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a team flying under the radar. Quarterback Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers are battling New Orleans for the NFC South. Their defensive front has really stepped up recently while their run game is very solid.

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2. San Diego Chargers

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Hovering around .500 has the San Diego Chargers still in the hunt for that final AFC Wildcard spot. San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers looks good once again regaining his big-time arm strength. Mike McCoy’s solid work as head coach looks for them to possibly be their division’s third team to make the Playoffs.

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1. Detroit Lions

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sport

The Lions, of course, forged a three-way tie atop their NFC North division. A battered history means nothing when looking at future possibilities. Boasting the NFL's best receiver in Calvin Johnson makes them dynamic. Quarterback Matt Stafford, a capable gunslinger, has been making better decisions. Defense is good enough now not to force many shootouts. With Aaron Rodgers going down as Green Bay Packers quarterback there is a real chance for these Lions to make some noise.