Okay, so I've already got the thread going for five under-the-radar teams (in my opinion) that I think could make serious pushes for playoff berths, now I will list five teams that I believe may disappoint and miss the playoffs, despite expectations. I think it'd be interesting to see who we all think about these five other teams I'll list. Here they are:
Yes. I said it. I'm not buying the "all of this will motivate us" stuff. The Saints have pretty much no easy games this year. If you think Tampa is easy for New Orleans, you may have missed how the Saints -- for some reason -- have struggled mightily against the Bucs, losing one of their three last year to them. The Saints had little to work with to improve their team. Brees is still looking for a monster contract, and the team had barely any draft picks to use, and the players they did pick were in rounds where you wouldn't expect much of an impact anytime soon. New Orleans must deal with improved versions of the Falcons, Eagles, 49ers, Packers, Panthers, Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders, Giants, and Cowboys who they play on the road and have had trouble with lately as well. Tack on the devastating loss to us to end last season, and I see lots of reasons to believe the Saints will falter this year.
San Diego doesn't have the toughest schedule, but something tells me they just haven't added enough to make up for the issues they had last year. Their GM has been terrible lately, and Norv Turner simply isn't a great HC. While many expect the Chargers to at least be a wild card, I don't see them winning enough games in the end to make it. The Raiders owned them last year, and the Chiefs beat them with backups. Peyton Manning is in Denver and I think San Diego is in real trouble.
Some might say, "Dallas? Really? I don't think they're expected playoff contenders." After several years of disappointing, maybe not, but this year.. all the praise of their draft, along with a softer schedule has people thinking they could crack the playoffs once again. Personally, like I think most here will say, I believe they'll fall short again. I think especially if DeMarco Murray gets hurt, that team will become one-dimensional, and quickly fade out of contention.
I like the Bengals and wouldn't mind seeing them succeed, but it's possible Dalton and the other high-performing rooks from last year could go into sophomore slumps. Cincy's early schedule looks soft, but toughens up later on. Of course, it could turn out in reality to be the opposite when we really get into the season, but if Cincy's opponents turn out as expected, the Bengals could have a rough time returning to the post-season.
I thought the Falcons had a rather uninspiring draft. Their best pick was Peter Konz, but outside of him, they didn't really get much. Pass-rusher Massaqoui was a solid pick with potential, but all their other selections probably won't contribute much this year. I felt their third round pick, OT Lamar Holmes, was a horrendous reach. He was expected to go in the later half of the draft, more toward the 6th or 7th rounds. They did the same thing last year with LB Akeem Dent who had the same projection, and unsurprisingly make a whopping ONE tackle in the regular season in 16 games. Sure, the Falcons added Asante Samuel to the secondary, but they pretty much neglected every other need they had this year. The added no linebacker support, no tight end of the future to pair with Tony Gonzalez, and no extra-extra receiver depth or explosiveness at running back like we, the 49ers, did to further bolster their offensive attack. Their division strangely tends to see the bottom teams rise to the top while the top teams fall. Along with New Orleans, Atlanta could flounder next season.