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Five Under-the-Radar Potential Playoff Teams

I was thinking lately of how often times we see total surprises as far as teams making it to the playoffs, or missing it for that matter, each year. Outside (and even inside) Niner homers, few expected the 49ers to win any more than 8 or 9 games last year, and we shocked the world with an NFC Championship berth. This year, I think there are some teams that quietly added the pieces they need/were lacking last year to now assure themselves a playoff spot in 2012. Here are the team I think may be being overlooked right now.


1.) Chicago Bears
The Bears had no competent backup behind Cutler. They went and got Campbell who I believe would fill in perfectly if he were to get hurt. They had no legitimate WRs last year, so they traded for Brandon Marshall and then drafted Alshon Jeffery, allowing speedsters Knox and Hester to move inside to the slot where they may be more effective. They added some secondary help and will have a great one-two punch with Matt Forte and Michael Bush running the ball. They also will be getting their OT Carimi back from injury. Overall, the OL still has questions, but even with the holes they had last year, they had a winning record when Cutler got hurt. This year, I think they should finish with a winning record and could be a team getting one of the last playoff spots.

New line-ups at key positions:
WR - Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett
DL - Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Shea McClellin, Henry Melton, Corey Wootton, Stephen Paea, Matt Toeaina, Ronnie Cameron
S - Brandon Hardin, Jeremy Jones, Craig Steltz, Major Wright, Chris Conte, Anthony Walters




2.) Buffalo Bills
The Bills went out and addressed just about every little thing they needed. Their defense has been a work in progress, but I think they now have a DOMINANT front 7. I don't think the Jets added anywhere near enough to improve themselves to be the #2 team in the division, and I think the Bills will at least earn that this year. Fitzpatrick is a good QB that needs some help, both from his offensive and defense teammates. With the players the Bills have added, I think they are set to contend for a playoff spot. The Bills will be getting Marcus Easley, a talented receiver, back from an ailment that kept him out last season

New line-ups at key positions:
WR - Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, Marcus Easley, T.J. Graham, Donald Jones, Naaman Roosevelt
OL - Cordy Glenn, Zebrie Sanders, Andy Levitre, Eric Wood, Chad Rinehart, Kraig Urbik, Erik Pears
DL - Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, Chris Kelsay, Shawne Merriman, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus, Alex Carrington, Torrell Troup
OLB - Nigel Bradham, Tank Carder, Athur Moats, Kelvin Sheppard, Nick Barnett, Kirk Morrison, Chris White
CB - Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams, Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers
S - George Wilson, Jairus Byrd, Da'Norris Searcy





3.) Tennessee Titans
I think the Titans have a real shot at being the #2 team in the AFC South with Jacksonville and Indy still rebuilding. I think Locker may take the job from Hasselbeck this year (he looked really good for a rookie last year, I thought), and the Titans will be getting Britt back from injury, while adding the explosive Kendall Wright to the offense. They've also bolstered their LB corps. CJ2K just needs to be himself, and this team will be a force.

New line-ups at key positions:
WR - Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Lavelle Hawkins, Marc Mariani, Damian Williams
DL - Mike Martin, Jurell Casey, Shaun Smith, Karl Klug, Scott Solomon, Dave Ball, Derrick Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley
LB - Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown, Gerald McRath, Tim Shaw, Zach Diles, Colin McCarthy, Will Witherspoon
S - Michael Griffin, Jordan Babineaux, Markelle Martin, Robert Johnson





4.) Oakland Raiders
Manning and the Broncos and Rivers and the Chargers will get all the attention, but I wouldn't look past Oakland. They're not the bottom-feeders they once were and have a lot of talent on that team, including some nice new additions this off-season. The Raiders are switching to a 3-4, so if that is successful, that could be huge for Oakland. Carson Palmer still needs to make better decisions, but I think overall, we could see the Raiders and Chargers fighting for that #2 spot late in the season.

New line-ups at key positions:
WR - Juron Criner, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, Derrick Carrier
OL - Jared Veldheer, Stefan Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel, Luke Nix, Cooper Carlisle, Tony Bergstrom, Joseph Barksdale, Khalif Barnes
DL - Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant, Lamarr Houston, Travis Ivey, Tommy Kelly
LB - Miles Burris, Matt Shaughnessy, Dave Tollefson, Jack Crawford, Aaron Curry, Rolando McClain, Philip Wheeler
CB - Shawntae Spencer, Chimdi Chekwa, Demarcus Van Dyke, Ron Bartell, Pat Lee, Bryan McCann





5.) Arizona Cardinals
As much as I hate to say it, I think the Cardinals could be vying for one of the final playoff spots this year. That defense looked ferocious towards the end of last season and the team really looked to be on the upswing. They were winning games with Skelton at QB, so that tells you something. If Kolb and the OL improve, one has to believe that their new offensive firepower should be enough to get the Cardinals 9 wins.

New line-ups at key positions:
WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Stephen Williams, DeMarco Sampson
OL - Levi Brown, Daryn College, Senio Kelemete, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Nate Potter
DL - Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, Ronald Talley, David Carter, Nick Eason
CB - Jamell Fleming, Patrick Peterson, Korey Lindsey, Greg Toler, William Gay, AJ Jefferson
S - Justin Bethel, Adrian Wilson, James Sanders, Kerry Rhodes, Rashad Johnson
[ Edited by OnTheClock on May 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM ]
Bears could be a scary team to play considering they were a playoff team last year before Cutler got hurt.
Originally posted by blizzuntz:
Bears could be a scary team to play considering they were a playoff team last year before Cutler got hurt.

They certainly could. If their secondary steps up and Urlacher is healthy, that will definitely help. The team I really hope makes it, especially after all the additions, is Buffalo. All that team really lacks, honestly, is a big-time #2 to go with Stevie Johnson. I think that without one, their playcalling has been predictable because almost everything went to Fred Jackson or Johnson, and that hurt them.
[ Edited by OnTheClock on May 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM ]
If Fred "Action" Jackson stays healthy then Bills will contend for sure. Their D is looking pretty good this year too.
I personally don't think the Bears are that under the radar. They looked like a hell of a team before Cutler and Forte went down.

Agree on all though. Interesting to see if the Bills can put it all together. I semi-root for them like I did for the Lions... they have just been so pathetic. The Lions now though... f**k them.
Seattle seahawks are always scary. They have a good run game and solid defense.
  • MILFS
  • Veteran
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Seahawks could surprise IMO if Flynn pans out. They have Lynch and a pretty good def.
Originally posted by MILFS:
Seahawks could surprise IMO if Flynn pans out. They have Lynch and a pretty good def.

I think their whole team just needs to stay healthy. The Seahawks receivers, when healthy, are solid -- but Flynn won't be throwing to Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Driver, Jones, and Finley anymore. Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, and Doug Baldwin at receiver and Miller at tight end are a pretty noticeable drop-off from that.
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
I think their whole team just needs to stay healthy. The Seahawks receivers, when healthy, are solid -- but Flynn won't be throwing to Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Driver, Jones, and Finley anymore. Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, and Doug Baldwin at receiver and Miller at tight end are a pretty noticeable drop-off from that.

Still pretty formidable unit.
More worried about the Seahawks making a playoff push
Bills are my biggest under-the-radar team. Chan Gailey has done a nice job improving that offense. They did a lot to improve their defense by bringing in Super Mario, Anderson, Gilmore, to go along with Dareus, K. Williams, Barnett, Byrd. They have a solid team on paper.
I fully expect the Bears to be a serious Super Bowl contender this season. If Cutler can stay healthy and with the improvements they have made it would be very unwise to overlook that team. The Cheifs are another team I expect to surprise a lot of people this year.
The panthers are gonna be good with cam newton in his second year. They could have a great offense this year. They had a solid draft too with keuchly and silatolu.
The Bears are legit. If Cutler didn't get hurt they would of made it last season
The Raiders aren't going to do anything under the radar. The Broncos will win their division and the Raiders typical record around 7-9 won't qualify for a Wildcard. I think the Seattle Seahawks are under the radar, not the AZ Cardinals. I also think that the Eagles are under the radar considering in their division. The Giants and Cowboys are getting a lot more attention.
[ Edited by Olejohnnyboy on May 14, 2012 at 12:53 AM ]