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5 NFL teams poised to improve in 2014

Fantasy Now: QB Sleepers And Busts

BY SAM SPIEGELMAN
XN Sports

Every NFL season contains its share of surprising teams and disappointing teams. Who will fall into those categories in 2014?

Aside from the Denver Broncos, which team in the AFC is truly a lock to win its division or lock up a playoff spot? Conversely, the NFC is chock-full of contenders, and with so much talent throughout the conference some teams are primed to be left on the outside looking in come January.

Here's a look at five teams that are poised to take a step forward this season, whether it's a stronger record or reaching the playoffs:

1. Washington Redskins (3-13)

Consider Robert Griffin III a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year and Jay Gruden in the race for Coach of the Year.

Mike Shanahan is finally out of the nation's capital, and 'Skins fans are rejoicing at the idea of an offensive-minded guy putting RGIII in a scheme where it seems inevitable he'll succeed. Oh, and consider he now has a weaponry of Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed to spread the field, and Alfred Morris in the backfield to throw off opposing defenses.

Washington is still a bit defensively challenged, but it's still primed to have more than three wins. In fact, the NFC East as a whole improved, but don't count the 'Skins out of the division race.

2014: 10-6

2. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)

Aaron Rodgers is healthy. Clay Matthews is healthy. Randall Cobb is healthy. Need I say more?

Green Bay managed to win the division last year with Matt Flynn and Seneca Wallace sharing time under center. This winter the team added Julius Peppers and re-signed its top three defensive backs, and as I alluded to before, three key cogs are back to full health to start the year off.

Of course, the Pack plays in a mighty tough NFC North, but should prove to be the class of the division.

2014: 11-5

3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

A .500 mark is considered a down year for the Ravens, and I expect their ceiling to be much higher in 2014.

All reports out of the Charm City indicate Joe Flacco is going to thrive in Gary Kubiak's offense and the team is expected to re-discover its ground game. Defensively, the team added C.J. Mosley to a championship-caliber unit.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will also be competitive in 2014, but the Ravens seemed to get to 8-8 despite lackluster seasons from its key players. If those stars can turn it around, this team has a shot as re-taking the division.

2014: 11-5

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

A popular choice to succeed in recent years, Tampa Bay is now under the leadership of Lovie Smith and a very strong cast of characters, including new quarterback Josh McCown. The issue for the Bucs is that they play in a very strong NFC South, where the New Orleans Saints are the class of the division and both Carolina and Atlanta could be competitive.

Tampa's offense should be dynamic if McCown continues playing as he did with Chicago. He has the Twin Towers in Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans, plus tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a healthy Doug Martin in the backfield. And you can count on Smith to get the Bucs' defense back into shape and be among the best in the division.

The Bucs will improve in 2014, but is still probably a year or two away from making a run at the division crown.

2014: 6-10

5. San Diego Chargers (9-7)

The Bolts got the nod here over the Chicago Bears, solely because of the division each team plays in.

Both the Chargers and Bears will be better record-wise in 2014, but the Chargers have the benefit of playing the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders twice, while Chicago has to go up against the Pack, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings.

Mike McCoy is one of my favorite head coaches. He's an offensive genius. And his defense fixed its major weakness this offseason: the secondary. When healthy, it's a multifaceted offense and dynamic front seven. That could spell playoffs again in 2014.

2014: 10-6

RELATED LINKS

5 NFL teams poised for regression in 2014

Top 10 NFL defensive players who will regress in 2014

10 NFL offensive players expected to regress in 2014

10 NFL defensive players primed for bounce-back seasons

10 NFL offensive players primed for bounce-back seasons


For more sports coverage, please visit XNSports.com

Join the discussion

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cshae89546 June 26 2014 at 2:15 PM

Washington Redskins #1? Hail to the Redskins...! Wait, why would some racist bigot purpously name and then HAIL a group they wished to denegrate and disparage?

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eddbetsworth June 26 2014 at 1:56 PM

Go Redskins!

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1 reply
arcpac eddbetsworth June 26 2014 at 2:02 PM

Here we go again RGIII 3.0...third times a charm...NOT

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dwtomczyk June 26 2014 at 4:01 PM

rg eye,eye,eye was a flash in th pan

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savannahswithgod June 26 2014 at 5:19 PM

If the Vikes could teach Adrian God Peterson how to toss a dink pass they would never be stopped! Could see the other 11 rushing at him and thinking well I don't want to be in the front 10 of this 11 and the receiver of the Vikes wide open 10 yards away. Touchdown, Touchdown, Touchdown. Vikes make me a coach, $23 million contract, I show up on sundays during game time and have my office in where the cheerleaders dress. Those game not on Sunday I get off with double pay and get 1 to 6 cheerleaders to entertain me, a dice roll decides that. And no ESPN allowed near me!

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Tom Harrell June 26 2014 at 6:55 PM

Josh McCown is gonna take ANYBODY ANYWHERE ? ?
QUICK, make a deal with Lovie.
You can probably unload your whole BENCH for CASH.

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jerabbit June 26 2014 at 7:07 PM

How about the Houston Texans? They've got to be better than 2-14!

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twalsh4440 June 26 2014 at 7:50 PM

RG111 is FINISHED HE WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT the PEOPLE handling him brought him around to Fast ruined his body INCLUDING THE PRESS he was a young great QB

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kyoung1501 June 27 2014 at 7:34 PM

Julius Peppers improves the Packers? A candidate for the "Slacker HOF".

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