The 2013 NFL season is only a couple weeks away. For some teams, training camp has already begun. For others, training camp will be in full swing by the end of the weekend. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five teams that are going to surprise everyone in 2013.
1) Miami Dolphins
Everyone knows that Ryan Tannehill is a promising young quarterback. Although inconsistent last season, he came on strong toward the end of the year. With the addition of wide receiver Mike Wallace, the Dolphins offense should be able to stretch the field with ease. On defense, third overall pick Dion Jordan should help Cameron Wake see more one-on-one match-ups on the edge. That will lead to a more effective front seven and a more effective defense overall.
2) Cleveland Browns
The Browns have dominated the headlines this offseason thanks to owner Jimmy Haslam’s indictment for rebate fraud. However, Cleveland has done a lot of good things since last season ended. They added Barkevious Mingo in the first round of the draft to add some youth and pass rushing ability to their defense. Luring Paul Kruger away from the Ravens is another boost to their defense. If Brandon Weeden, Josh Gordon and Trent Richardson mature in their second seasons, the Cleveland offense could be something to take seriously in 2013.
3) St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford is about to experience something new this season that he has never had before. For the first time in his career, he will have the same offensive coordinator for two consecutive years.
Young players need stability to thrive. Quarterbacks need that stability even more. In addition to that, the Rams signed Jake Long to play left tackle. If he is healthy, Bradford should be given time in the pocket to tear up opposing defenses.
On defense, Janoris Jenkins is about to move from prized rookie to shutdown cornerback that everyone fears. Although St. Louis plays in the upstart NFC West, they should win enough games to compete for at least a wildcard.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers made two significant moves this offseason. The first was to sign cornerback Darrelle Revis to a long-term contract. While it may take some time for him to get back to his old self following an ACL injury last season, there is no doubt that he makes the Bucs defense one to be taken a little more seriously.
Their other significant move was to sign receiver Mike Williams to a six-year contract worth up to $40 million. Alongside Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay has two receivers who are signed for the long-term. Combined with Doug Martin, the offense could be something to fear if Josh Freeman shows some consistency.
5) Detroit Lions
We all know that Matthew Stafford can throw for at least 4,500 yards this season. Calvin Johnson is going to catch at least 100 passes and make a run at 1,500 receiving yards or more. The question is if the Lions can create any type of a running game. If Mikel LeShoure can stay healthy, he and Reggie Bush could provide the Lions offense with a balance that it didn’t have last year. If the Lions can score a lot of points this season, they should be able to rebound back to where they were two years ago.
The NFL season always provides a lot of drama and unpredictable results. Prior to 2012, no one thought that Detroit would have fallen to 4-12 or that the NFC West would have become such as strong division. That is why all five teams on this list have a realistic chance of turning the tide as they enter the 2013 season regardless of their histories of losing.