In the past decade, NFL playoff teams have been bounced from the next season’s postseason field at a rate of 50 percent. Last season, 6 of the 12 NFL playoff teams from the 2010-2011 season (3 per conference) did not make it back to the playoffs in 2011-2012 season
Playoff Teams From Last Season: Patriots, Ravens, Texans, Broncos, Steelers, Bengals, Packers, 49ers, Saints, Giants, Falcons, Lions…… who will miss out this season?
Below are three teams that missed the NFL Playoffs last season that we feel have a very good chance to return to post-season play in 2013, replacing some of last season’s qualifiers.
Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys would have actually won the NFC East if they could have beaten the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in the final game of the regular season, but the loss knocked them out of the playoffs entirely. Not only do we expect Dallas to still be playing in January this season but we are picking them to do so as division champions and to go around 10-6. The offense was very good last year and could be potentially better this year as DeMarco Murray matures more at running back. Murray averaged 5.5 yards per carry as a rookie last year so the sky is the limit.
The biggest key to the Cowboys’ return to the playoffs should be an improved defense though. That side of the ball actually played worse than the 21.7 points per game Dallas allowed, but the secondary should be much better with the drafting of Morris Claiborne and the free agent signing of Brandon Carr.
Chicago Bears – The Bears were a playoff team last year until Matt Forte was lost for the season and the injury to Jay Cutler being the icing on the cake. Well, both players are now back with Forte recently signing a new contract and the Bears made a great acquisition when picking up WR Brandon Marshall, who had several great years with the Denver Broncos with Cutler as his quarterback, while giving up only a couple of draft choices. Cutler can also relax now that the Bears have a normal offense again with offensive coordinator Mike Martz and his gimmicky schemes that often lacked in pass protection now departed.
Then there is the defense, which is one of the best in the NFL when Brian Urlacher is manning the middle linebacker spot and is on track to start the season after tearing both his MCL and PCL in the season’s final game last year. Yes, the Packers should win the NFC North but Chicago will be a major player in the Wild Card race.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs took advantage of a very weak schedule to win the AFC West two years ago and that year was proven to be fraudulent when they followed it up by going 7-9 last season. However, the AFC West is so weak this year that 8-8 could win the division and a 9-7 record would almost certainly be good enough.
Well, the Chiefs appear to be very solid at every position except quarterback. Yes, that is the most important position of all but at least Matt Cassel is cerebral and does not make many mistakes, and that could be all the Chiefs ask of him. Jamaal Charles is a beast of a running back and the Chiefs could have two top caliber receivers once Dwayne Bowe ends his holdout to work alongside Jonathan Baldwin; last year’s top pick.