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DaBearsFan
07-03-2010, 05:33 PM
Below are all the teams that finished under .500 last year. Which one makes a big leap and surprises people?

St. Louis: 1-15
Detroit: 2-14
Tampa Bay: 3-13
Washington: 4-12
Kansas City: 4-12
Seattle: 5-11
Oakland: 5-11
Cleveland: 5-11
Buffalo: 6-10
Chicago: 7-9
Miami: 7-9
Jacksonville: 7-9

My thoughts: Based on my screen name, you can probably guess that I'll be picking the Bears. And i do think they will make a jump into the playoffs; however, out of fairness I should probably pick another team.

And, call me crazy, but I like Oakland this year. They put a scare into a lot of teams last year, had a tough schedule if I remember correctly and replacing JaMarcus Russell with Jason Campbell (who I think is solid) is a big upgrade at QB. I feel like they have some pieces there and have a reasonable schedule (don't buy anyone in that division as great and only SD as good). I think they could make a jump to 8-8 or 9-7 and compete (though ultimately not get) a wild card.

mattpett
07-03-2010, 05:38 PM
I completely agree with Oakland, at the end of the year when they finally benched Russell they were beating some good teams.

Matt
07-03-2010, 05:57 PM
I'd have to go with the Bears.

Andy Freeland
07-03-2010, 06:13 PM
The Bears and Dolphins wouldn't be big surprises to me. I agree that the Raiders will be better, they had their best off-season in years, but not that much better. They did beat 2 playoff teams (Eagles and Bengals) and the defending Champion Steelers, but I would be surprised if they won more than 7. For me it comes down the Seahawks and Redskins. Both have new coaches, but not rookie coaches. I guess I'll take the Seahawks based on playing in a weak division, but I think Hasselbeck's time has passed.

KabaModernFan
07-03-2010, 06:13 PM
Is it really a big leap if you were a 7-9 team? With questions like these I feel like the answer has to be limited to teams who won 5 games or less. Now having said that, I like the Raiders too. I guess we always felt they were a quarterback away from being a good team, and now they have a competent QB. Of course, I thought they would be good last year too, but then JaMarcus did JaMarcus-type things. After Oakland, I guess I'd have to say Washington because their defense was pretty good last year and now they've added McNabb. Maybe not a playoffs appearance, but 8-8 wouldn't surprise me for this Redskins team. I also like Detroit this year, they seem a bit frisky to me. Definitely look like a team on the upswing.

Cris Collinsworth
07-03-2010, 07:33 PM
I am going off the board with one. The KC Chiefs add Charlie Weis to New England west. Jamaal Charles is electric and I loved Dexter McCluster at Ole Miss. Matt Cassel is good enough and should get better with Weis. Remember, Notre Dame's problems were not on the offensive side. Eric Berry is the stud in the secondary they didn't have. If Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey start to play the way they are capable, why not the Chiefs as that team out of the blue.

tbelcher11
07-03-2010, 07:49 PM
I am going off the board with one. The KC Chiefs add Charlie Weis to New England west. Jamaal Jackson is electric and I loved Dexter McCluster at Ole Miss. Matt Cassel is good enough and should get better with Weis. Remember, Notre Dame's problems were not on the offensive side. Eric Berry is the stud in the secondary they didn't have. If Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey start to play the way they are capable, why not the Chiefs as that team out of the blue.

Yeah, I think McCluster is going to be better than expected. His game speed is much better than the 4.58 he ran at the combine, and he has a nasty habit of avoiding tackles, breaking tackles, and outrunning people. This year, I think he will end up being the poor man's Chris Johnson. Also, good points about the Chiefs' defense. Should be much improved.

DannyMilk
07-03-2010, 08:21 PM
I'm not sold on Oakland or KC...Obviously since I'm a Bears fan I truly believe there's no place to go but up...I think a lot of these teams will be better, but I'm not sure how big of a leap they will take...Dolphins will be better...as far as "sleepers", I'd have to go with the Redskins, only because of the difference in mentality. They've always had the talent and big names this decade, just always fall off. They do play in a tough division, but I think they will be a force, especially weeks 7-11 (very winnable games), with their bye week coming week 9. It's reasonable that they can go 7-4 going into the home stretch of the season weeks 13-17.

LiteraryHack
07-03-2010, 10:47 PM
And, call me crazy, but I like Oakland this year. I think you're only second to Al Davis, my friend.

OverTheTop
07-03-2010, 11:49 PM
Miami could potentially sneak up on New England and the Jets this year to put themselves in the wild card hunt in the AFC. I liked the progress Chad Henne made as a starter last season and with a healthy Ronnie Brown back in the mix for the dolphins running game and wildcat package, it wouldn't suprise me if the Fins take a step forward.

cobber66
07-04-2010, 12:52 AM
I really like Washington to have a strong year and even make the playoffs in 2010. With Shanahan adding the offensive personnel and McNabb there quarterbacking, the offense should be much better and they should improve on their -11 TO margin last year. The out of division schedule is very favorable with tough games at home (GB, MIN, IND) and easier opponents on the road (STL, DET). And in week 2 they play Houston, and guess who knows everything about what Houston's coaches teach? Yes, Kyle Shanahan is now on the Redskins staff after working under Kubiak the past few seasons, and Kubiak learned everything he knows working under Shanahan in Denver.

I also like a couple 8-8 teams to get over the hump this year: Carolina and the Giants.

I think KC, Miami, and Oakland will all improve as well.

BigDerf
07-04-2010, 03:11 AM
Yeahhhh... As a homer I want to pick the 8-8 Giants... But from the list I like Detroit.

They have a 1st overall QB going into his second year... a dominant WR.... An explosive rookie RB... and Have added the pieces to field a decent defense after this offseason. Not saying playoffs... but 7-9 would still be huge for Detroit. Predicted after last years draft they would be in the playoffs next year (2011) and I still like the prediction.

nickmillon
07-05-2010, 01:58 AM
I would really like to see the chiefs take a leap forward and surprise some people. Like cris, I love jamaal charles because of his speed and agility so i think that if the chiefs effectively use the inside-outside run game with thomas jones and jamaal charles they could i prove easily. If they also work dexter mccluster into a slot reciever/runningback he could be really exciting. However, the chiefs need to big up their defense to make an impact. Their front seven needs to play a little better than expected but i like their secondary. As I said I would like for this to happen but i think ultimately it will be the Redskins. By bringing in shanahan and mcnabb, they are bringing in two proven people into their team even if mcnabb hasnt won a championship. I think this is clinton portis' biggest oppurtunity to go deep into the playoffs by having a good qb and a good coach. I think that by switching to a 3-4 defense, there will be a bit more of a pass rush by using brian orakpo as an outside linebacker. He had a really good rookie year (11 sacks) and i think he will be more dangerous in a 3-4.

Chilly
07-05-2010, 02:53 AM
Oakland is a fun one, as is KC. The weak divisions make for a surprisingly opportunistic route to the playoffs. But I'm going to go with a western team in the other conference: Seattle. Let's say the Pete Carroll effect sets in especially hard in year one, and the team rallies around their leader-Hasselback-for a final run. They have a solid defense, and Leon Washington should ignite an offense that saw its passing game open up with the addition of Housh last year. You could be looking at a team that is able to overtake the 49ers and Cards, sneaking into the NFC playoffs (before getting stomped by a legit contender, of course). But still, that would be a hell of a 1st year accomplishment for Pete Houdini. I mean, Carroll.

Beefmalone
07-05-2010, 03:49 AM
You KC guys are going to be real happy with Dex. He carried Ole Miss to the Cotton Bowl and we might not have gone bowling without him given the lackluster year Snead had. I just hope they don't keep him in a strictly WR role.

InNOutBurgler
07-05-2010, 06:57 AM
As a Dolphins fan I think we are still a year away but I wouldn't put us in the 'surprise team' catagory if we do make a run. I think KC, Oakland and Washington have made stealthy moves that should surprise people this year. I think the window for SD is closing fast in that division.

davethepanther
07-05-2010, 11:37 AM
Give me Detroit. I think this team is finally headed in the right direction. They are in a very tough Division but could easily turn that whole division around.

DannyMilk
07-05-2010, 11:47 AM
I know I posted it somewhere else, but I think the Lions are a year away from being a WC contender, and yeah, I think their biggest problem is their schedule...obviously that's 6 tough games right off the bat, and then road games at NYG, DAL, and MIA...I probably haven't said this since the days of Barry, Scott Mitchell, and Herman Moore, but I like what the Lions are doing!

giantsfan97
07-05-2010, 12:27 PM
I think the Redskins make the jump. They lost a lot of close games last year and I think Shanahan + McNabb make a bigger difference than people will expect. Their biggest problem will be what it always is... the NFC East is full of good teams.

InNOutBurgler
07-05-2010, 12:32 PM
Forgot about Detroit...damn! I've liked where they were headed for two ears now...that's a franchise that needs to get out of the dumps. The NFL is better when classic teams don't suck

DannyMilk
07-05-2010, 12:44 PM
Tim Allen's Home Improvement 1991-1999...Lions Record 1991-1999: 73-71 (6 Playoff Appearances) Lions Record 2000-Present: 42-118 (0 Playoff Appearances) just saying haha

robthemany
07-05-2010, 01:41 PM
I'd pick detriot. I think they will win 6 games which compared to last season would be a huge jump.

FLPackerFan
07-05-2010, 04:12 PM
I thin the two teams that will improve the most will be Detroit and Oakland. The Lions will be better from the talent. they are slowly building a roster with some great players at key positions. I think though they will leap more in 2011. I think the Raiders will actually challenge for their division title. Having Jason Campbell there at QB will possibly double their win total. they had a lot of close losses last year. With Russell gone, they have a chance. The AFC west is becoming more competitive. San Diego is still the best team, but KC, Denver, and Oakland are building. I think the Raiders have the talent and the best chance to jump.

TommyBry
07-05-2010, 04:15 PM
KC would be my pick

ncoolong
07-05-2010, 04:33 PM
I am going off the board with one. The KC Chiefs add Charlie Weis to New England west. Jamaal Charles is electric and I loved Dexter McCluster at Ole Miss. Matt Cassel is good enough and should get better with Weis. Remember, Notre Dame's problems were not on the offensive side. Eric Berry is the stud in the secondary they didn't have. If Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey start to play the way they are capable, why not the Chiefs as that team out of the blue.

Agree totally. The subtraction of Larry Johnson outweighed the addition of Jamaal Charles, and Haley has more of his guys in place, not to mention the personnel direction of Scott Pioli, and a division that's really up in the air.

If San Diego is as great as they're supposed to be every year, they would have done something by now. I could see any of the four teams in the AFC West splitting with each other.

FLPackerFan
07-05-2010, 04:47 PM
I would agree with KC. however they are young and i think maybe a year away. I will still go with Oakland because of the addition of jason Campbell at QB. They were in a lot of games last year and with good QB play may have been a .500 team.

Pruitt
07-05-2010, 05:16 PM
Something crazy will happen in Oakland that will derail whatever momentum they have.

The Chiefs will improve as will the Lions - stability at last, and nowhere to go but up.

On the downside, I smell a disaster in jacksonville.

GiantsFaninToronto
07-05-2010, 05:31 PM
Dark horse? Well, I don't know if Seattle really counts due to the fact that they routinely won the NFC West up until recently, but I have them taking the second Wild Card spot in the NFC prediction thread.

If I were to really get crazy, I could sorta see Oakland making significant strides behind Jason Campbell. I still think they're a year or two away from the playoffs, but they have some big-time talent on both sides of the ball. And Campbell brings stability that they haven't had since Rich Gannon. Add a surprisingly solid draft, and I don't think they'll be a "scrimmage" anymore.

Rocketman
07-05-2010, 09:06 PM
I say it's gonna be the bucs, nobody will see it coming since they play in the same division as the champs

ShawnDeal
07-05-2010, 09:21 PM
I think that the Redskins will no longer be the Deadskins. I don't think people realize nationwide how bad Jason Campbell was as a quarterback. The defense was quite good considering how little rest that they got during games throughout the season. Can't wait to see an O led my McNabb and the mad scientist that is Mike Shanahan. Regardless of who the main RB is, he will run for 1500 yards and that's going to eat us some serious clock time. They will go 10 and 6 which I think will be enough to win the East this year.

Cris Collinsworth
07-05-2010, 10:05 PM
Don't forget Kyle Shanahan. That was a hot offense in Houston. If the offensive line is just avereage after several poor years, the Redskins could rebound. Tackles Trent Williams and Artis Hicks have to play above average football. Shanahan's offense is one cut runners behind offnesive linemen who cut on the backside (and make a lot of enemies), and play action/bootlegs off the run. I think McNabb could fit this offense so well. To beat this offense you have to be able to tackle the QB in 1-1 situations. McNabb is one of the toughest in football to bring down. The competition between Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker could make them all better. Division is too tough to pick them to win, but if the Redskins get better this could end up the best division in football.

GBPKS
07-06-2010, 11:52 AM
This is a great topic and always one of the most fun to try to project. I do take issue with what Bill Simmons said on his podcast with Cris last week about nobody seeing the Saints coming - I thought they were a pretty obvious bounceback candidate. On the other hand, I absolutely was blindsided by Cincinnati. I don't tbink any of the 7-9 teams making the playoffs would be THAT surprising, so I'm going to dip down into the dregs...

I think the best candidates out of this list to surprise are out of the AFC West, primarily due to opportunity. Kansas City is in Year Two of the Pioli Plan, and the Raiders are finally out from under the Curse of Jamarcus. I think Jason Campbell will give them competent quarterback play, and the Raiders beat some really good teams last year. I think either one of those teams might be able to compete for a wild card, especially if they sweep the other.

I think a lot of people see a big bounceback year from Washington with McNabb coming in to play quarterback, but I think 8-8 or 9-7 is the realistic ceiling for them in the NFC East.

You also have to look at Tampa Bay because of the strange trend in the NFC South of their last place teams bouncing back to finish in first the following season. I would be absolutely stunned, though, if it happened with the Bucs this year.

Cleveland is a team that could be really interesting - they finished last season on a 4-game winning streak and got some momentum, and now they have a veteran QB in Delhomme who might (key word - might) benefit from a change in scenery. I wouldn't want to put a ton of money on it, but since all of these are longshots anyway, why not the Browns? I think Mangini has proven himself to be a decent coach in the league, Delhomme has been a winner at QB in the past, their running game should be pretty solid. If they can take advantage of a last place schedule and hold their own in their division (I'm not expecting them to go 6-0 like the Bengals did, but if they can hold on for 3-3), I think they might be in position to steal a wild card berth (and then get blown out in the first round).

Coldriver
07-06-2010, 12:07 PM
I'd like to go with Washington. I don't think they'll be a playoff team, but I think they'll be too close for the comfort of the rest of the NFC East and may end up playing spoiler. Shanahan's teams seem to be driven almost solely by his will and that death stare he can focus out on the field. While I don't know if McNabb has the hunger to prove the Eagles wrong and to mop up some of his old rivals in the East, I do think he still has enough talent to pull out 9 or 10 wins with the people the Redskins make available to him.

As far as a team with the most potential to make the playoffs in 2010, I'm going with Chicago. They've got a QB that should be able to lead them (if he'd only stop leading his receivers so much that he hits the other team), a strong defense, a running back that should hopefully bounce back from an off season. To me, that adds up to major wildcard contention. The rest of the teams really do feel like the bottom 12 of the NFL for the next few years - a lot of them are missing multiple key pieces, not just one.

Wilfork
07-06-2010, 12:52 PM
As a bizzaro team....Watch out for my Patriots as a team on the slide. They have the potential to be break, but are extremely young. If the young guys pan out they can be 12 to 13 wins. If they dont - a single digit win season is a possibility. Also the Jets and Dolphins will both be quite tough this year. More so than in the past.

Dave Lapham
07-06-2010, 03:36 PM
The Redskins add a brilliant offensive mind to the mix in Head Coach Mike Shanahan. The NFL is a QB driven league. Even though McNabb's best years are behind him, it is still a major upgrade at the position. Of all the teams with a losing record last season, who made a bigger upgrade at the two most important leadership positions on the field than the Redskins? They will add at least 4 or 5 wins to the 4-12 mark they posted last season.

HouseofSpears
07-06-2010, 03:52 PM
Definitely Miami, although that isn't too much of a surprise. If the team as a whole stays healthy and Hasselbeck can be a semblance of his old self, I say the Seahawks.

Pruitt
07-06-2010, 07:11 PM
Cleveland is a team that could be really interesting - they finished last season on a 4-game winning streak and got some momentum, and now they have a veteran QB in Delhomme who might (key word - might) benefit from a change in scenery. I wouldn't want to put a ton of money on it, but since all of these are longshots anyway, why not the Browns? I think Mangini has proven himself to be a decent coach in the league, Delhomme has been a winner at QB in the past, their running game should be pretty solid. If they can take advantage of a last place schedule and hold their own in their division (I'm not expecting them to go 6-0 like the Bengals did, but if they can hold on for 3-3), I think they might be in position to steal a wild card berth (and then get blown out in the first round).

Hope you're right, but in many, many cases, teams that finish strong when their season is effectively over are just bad teams that catch a few breaks. Mangini has proven NOTHING, and Delhomme looked like a grizzled Jamarcus Russell last year.

Again, I hope you're right, but I see this team getting off to a decent start due to a weak schedule and then hitting the skids. At that point, Holmgren's gloves will come off and he can finish cleaning out the dirt from the previous regime (starting with Mangini). If that happens - even if the Browns finish 6-10 - then the year won' have been a complete waste.

Mordeci
07-06-2010, 07:17 PM
Holmgren's gloves will come off and he can finish cleaning out the dirt from the previous regime (starting with Mangini). If that happens - even if the Browns finish 6-10 - then the year won' have been a complete waste.
I feel the complete opposite. I hope the Browns do just enough to keep Mangini. I think he needs to stay in Cleveland a long time. Of course that's because I'm a Bengal fan.

cobber66
07-06-2010, 07:42 PM
The Redskins add a brilliant offensive mind to the mix in Head Coach Mike Shanahan. The NFL is a QB driven league. Even though McNabb's best years are behind him, it is still a major upgrade at the position. Of all the teams with a losing record last season, who made a bigger upgrade at the two most important leadership positions on the field than the Redskins? They will add at least 4 or 5 wins to the 4-12 mark they posted last season.

I couldn't agree more. To all of this I should add that Kyle Shanahan joins the Redskins after being with Houston the last few years, so he will be very familiar with not only the Texans but the rest of the AFC South, whose teams all play the Redskins this year. I know it's a tough division, but bringing in a coach who was on the staff of one of the teams and gameplanned for each of the others twice a year can't hurt.

ShawnDeal
07-06-2010, 09:29 PM
Where's all the love for Miami coming from? I see them as a 6 and 10 team at best. I just don't believe in Henne at all.

Wordsworth
07-07-2010, 07:48 AM
If Miami is successful this year I don't think they can be considered a surprise. They won the division two years ago and are a far cry from the 1-15 team we saw in 2007

GBPKS
07-07-2010, 11:51 AM
Hope you're right, but in many, many cases, teams that finish strong when their season is effectively over are just bad teams that catch a few breaks. Mangini has proven NOTHING, and Delhomme looked like a grizzled Jamarcus Russell last year.

Again, I hope you're right, but I see this team getting off to a decent start due to a weak schedule and then hitting the skids. At that point, Holmgren's gloves will come off and he can finish cleaning out the dirt from the previous regime (starting with Mangini). If that happens - even if the Browns finish 6-10 - then the year won' have been a complete waste.

Mangini has a solid track record in the league - I'm not saying he's Vince Lombardi or anything, but I don't think he's Rich Kotite either...

There's a reason this thread is called "Surprise Team of 2010" - if we were expecting it, it wouldn't be a surprise. I don't think Delhomme is a long-term solution but he is a decent veteran stopgap until Colt McCoy is ready to play, and probably an upgrade over the Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn duo. The offensive line is not bad (Joe Thomas is a stud) and the running game really started working last year with Jerome Harrison and now Montario Hardesty is added to the mix. I'm not saying they're going to the Super Bowl but 9-7 and a wild card berth isn't completely absurd.

Pruitt
07-07-2010, 11:55 AM
I feel the complete opposite. I hope the Browns do just enough to keep Mangini. I think he needs to stay in Cleveland a long time. Of course that's because I'm a Bengal fan.

Your honesty is noted. All I could think during the Browns "run" to the end of the season was that it would white wash the brutal nature of the first 10 weeks of the season. God help us when the highlight of our last 7 years is knocking a weak Steelers team out of the playoffs.

jeffwaytowich
07-07-2010, 11:58 AM
If Washington makes the leap into playoff contention - doubtful I know - would they even qualify as a surprise given how much money they spend and the big names (Shanahan and McNabb) they brought in?