5 NFL Teams That Could Make Surprise Playoff Runs In 2014

5 Teams That Could Make Surprise Playoff Runs In 2014

Bill O'Brien Texans
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Each year the NFL playoff picture changes. While elite teams like San Francisco, Denver, New England and Seattle are mainstays in the playoffs, the rest of the playoff picture constantly changes. Last season, five new teams became division champions and three more earned Wild Card berths after missing the playoffs in 2012. So as the 2014 season gets closer and closer, here are five squads that can be surprise playoff teams this season.

5. Chicago Bears

Kyle Fuller Bears
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5. Chicago Bears

Kyle Fuller Bears
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GM Phil Emery gutted most of the Bears' defense, mainly the defensive line and secondary, to ensure that last season's defensive collapse won't happen again. On offense, the Bears finished second in the NFL despite star QB Jay Cutler only playing in 11 games. In a division with some uncertainty with Green Bay and Detroit, Chicago could emerge as the NFC North champions in 2014.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin Steelers
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4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin Steelers
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The Pittsburgh Steelers seem ready to rebound following two consecutive non-playoff seasons. Pittsburgh won six of their last eight games in 2013 to give the team some momentum heading into this season. With an improved running game in Le'Veon Bell and a younger, faster defense, the Steelers can easily get back to their winning ways and take back the AFC North.

3. Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians Cardinals
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3. Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians Cardinals
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At 10-6, the Arizona Cardinals were the best team not to make the playoffs last year. Being in the NFC West will somewhat hurt the Cardinals, but given what happened last year in the AFC West, three teams can certainly make the postseason in a division, even the NFC West.

2. Houston Texans

Bill O'Brien Texans
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2. Houston Texans

Bill O'Brien Texans
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Last season the Kansas City Chiefs proved that worst to the postseason is possible. The Texans have a new coach in Bill O'Brien, a veteran quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick and play in a relatively weak division in the AFC South. This team is still one of the most talented teams in the AFC, and after a solid draft, the Texans could grab a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith Buccaneers
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1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith Buccaneers
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The Buccaneers should expect an improvement this season based on their aggressive mentality in free agency and the hiring of Lovie Smith as coach. The Buccaneers also have history on their side as the NFC South has not had a repeat champion, and in both 2012 and 2013, the team that finished last went on to win the division the following season.


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  • OP Bolt

    The problem for the Cardinals is that they are considered the number three team in the division. But worse, for them, the division has to play the AFC West, in addition to the six games against their division foes. For the AFC West and NFC West, it looks unlikely that either division will have a survivor capable of being a third team in the playoffs. However, I think the Chargers would rank on your list, probably ahead of the Cardinals, since their chance of being number two in the AFC West and getting into the playoffs is higher than Arizona’s chance of getting into the playoffs as the number three in the NFC West.