July 3, 2013
With both the NBA and NHL crowning their champion in the recent weeks, sports fans are in dire straits. Correct, MLB is entering the meat and cheese portion of its season, but it’s not enough. Simply put, we need more. When it comes to sports we can never get enough.
Besides beloved baseball, what are we left with?
In comes creeping the oh-so-infectious NFL. It’s been months since the last NFL action. Honestly, if there were 52 Sundays in an NFL season, that still wouldn’t be enough. Admit it, you’re excited for football—you’re ready for it to invade your life once again.
With that being said, let’s forecast who the top five surprise teams will be in 2013.
Kansas City Chiefs
Wow—2012 was a year to forget for the Kansas City Chiefs organization. It was a season brought them the overall No. 1 pick.
While it’s always nice to have top choice, it usually means that team owned the worst record in the entire league. This was true for the Chiefs as they only managed two victories. This year promises to be better for the Chiefs.
New to town are both head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith. This is enough to give the Chiefs faithful hope. It’s safe to say that the franchise is starting with a clean slate. Look for running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to torment the opposition this season—both men welcome the team’s changes with open arms.
Things are beginning to look up in Kansas City.
Positive free agent noise—check.
Round 1 draft splash—check.
Right now, it seems as if the Miami Dolphins can do no wrong. Let’s not forget they toyed with the playoffs last year too. They won seven games when they were written off in the preseason. One may be asking, “How are they considered a surprise this year if they were last?”
It’s because the Dolphins still aren’t taken seriously. Well, the time for that poor notion of thought to subside is now.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill now has a viable receiving threat in free agent acquisition Mike Wallace. The team also rolled the dice and traded up to take defensive end Dion Jordan at No. 3 in the first round of the NFL draft. Look for him to cause havoc in the near future.
The Dolphins X-factor resides in their running game. Young backs Lamar Miller and rookie Mike Gillislee will be uber-flashy out of the backfield this season. Both are sleepers in fantasy mode, but neither should be forgotten about.
Great things are on the horizon in Miami.
Really? The Cleveland Browns?
You’re eyes are not playing tricks on you—the Browns are a serious threat to all who cross their path this season.
The team did a magnificent job recruiting talented coaches in the offseason. New head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will do nothing but good for the young Browns offense.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden will benefit most from the experienced coach staff. Running back Trent Richardson will reap the benefits of a bolstered passing game. The team plays in the ultra-competitive AFC North, but will be a real spoiler this season.
A new day is upon us in Cleveland.
The Detroit Lions make the list simply because they could surprise either way. The sad part about that last comment—lifelong Lions fans are accustomed to losing.
Truly, this is a make-or-break season for the front office along with head coach Jim Schwartz. A single playoff appearance in 2011 just won’t cut it. After a decade of torture due under ex-GM Matt Millen’s grand scheme, the fans need a winner.
The team is obviously loaded with talent, but must execute smart football for a complete 60 minutes 16 times this season.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford can always lean on wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but not as much as he has in the past. Stafford throws the ball too much and the unbalanced offense is known to all. The offseason addition of running back Reggie Bush could be the perfect fit, but only time will tell.
If the defense shows up when it counts and can hold a lead the Lions will win double-digit games. If not, the outcome will be all too familiar.
Nonetheless, there’s plenty of reason to believe in Detroit.
St. Louis Rams
Hey, the St. Louis Rams have a great head coach in Jeff Fisher, so wining shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fisher and fans expect to win, but that doesn’t mean outsiders see them as predators.
The Rams surprise this year because quarterback Sam Bradford proves that he’s a franchise quarterback. The 25-year-old shot caller will have a definitely good season this year. Since Fisher has come to town the team has acquired a ridiculous amount of speed in the receiving corps. Also, the addition of monster tight end in Jared Cook this offseason will help Bradford in the red zone.
The running game could be a sore spot in the offensive attack. For this, expect offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to stuff the game plan with multiple packages that keep opposing defenses off balance.
Just like the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North, the Rams will throw a real wrench into the plans of the favored NFC West teams this year.