Sleeper Teams Poised To Break Into The 2017 NFL Playoffs
In today’s almost annual, ‘worst-to-first’ NFL, a few teams rise up each and every year and have startling campaigns that land them in the postseason to the surprise of even the most astute gridiron analysts and experts.
With the 2017 NFL season just weeks away from getting underway, now is a perfect time to take a look at the handful of sleeper teams that look like they’re poised to break into the playoffs this coming season whether you expect them to or not.
Here’s A Closer Look At The Sleeper Teams Poised To Break Into The 2017 NFL Playoffs
I really like the Tennessee Titans heading into 2017 and you should be too seeing as how they’re coming off a fine, 9-7 campaign that nearly won them the AFC South and landed them in the playoffs a year ago. Had it not been for Marcus Mariota’s season-ending broken leg in Week 15, who knows what would have happened to the Titans. Now, after adding two speedy playmakers that will both contribute right away in wide receiver Corey Davis and cornerback/returner Adoree Jackson, the fifth and 18th picks in this year’s NFL Draft, I’m thinking Tennessee and their powerful rushing attack are much more than a sleeper team waiting to surprise.
With New England owning the AFC East and Miami reaching the playoffs a year ago, the Buffalo Bills are the only team in the division that could be considered a sleeper poised to make a playoff run. The Bills went 7-9 last season but they could be poised for a breakout campaign after hiring former Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott as head coach after years of underachieving under Rex Ryan. If Buffalo can improve their defense, they could surprise behind LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor.
The Ravens went 8-8 a year ago and could surprise after missing the playoffs for the second straight season and third time in the last four years. You may not know it, but Baltimore was very good in ranking ninth in points allowed a year ago (20.1 ppg), but they struggled to score the ball like crazy by averaging a modest 21.4 points per game (21st). Why Baltimore went heavy on defense in the NFL Draft is beyond me, but if the Ravens can get Joe Flacco some more weapons, then the sky’s the limit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the NFC South, I like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as my top sleeper candidate after they went 9-7 a year ago and added veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency and tight end O.J. Howard in the NFL Draft to give blossoming quarterback Jameis Winston some more weapons to improve a passing attack that ranked a modest 22nd in 2016.
New Orleans Saints
I also like Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints as my other sleeper pick in the NFC South after they went 7-9 last season. The Saints ranked first in total offense and second in scoring (29.3 ppg) so clearly, all they need to do is improve a defense that finished 2016 ranked 31st in points allowed (28.4 ppg). New Orleans got it right by drafting Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick in the draft before adding Utah safety Marcus Williams in the second round.
Ha! I’m just kidding people. There’s no way in hell the Chicago bears reach the playoffs in 2017 or likely, even sniff .500.
Last but certainly not least, I like the Philadelphia Eagles as a sleeper pick that could be poised for a playoff run seeing as how the Birds went a positive 7-9 in the first year of the Doug Pederson-Carson Wentz era and made a series of smart offseason acquisitions to bring in veteran wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith while adding a trio of defensive players with their first three picks in the NFL Draft.