Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think it was that crazy when Nick Fairley said the Lions will play in the Super Bowl. Let’s be honest, nobody would have guessed the 49ers would have been knocking on the door two years ago. Who could have predicted the season Seattle had last year?
The truth is, all you have to do is get into the postseason dance known as the NFL Playoffs to have a shot at the Lombardi. As simple as that thinking is, few people actually give it much thought. Recently, team like the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers have made the most of their playoff appearances when few others gave them any shot.
Like every year, we’ll have our favorites to win it all — The Ravens, The 49ers, The Patriots, The Broncos, The Packers, etc. Also like every year, there will be a few teams who come out of nowhere and throw all of the expert’s prediction out the window. Here are 3 off-the-radar teams who could make a serious run at Super Bowl glory in 2013.
Detroit Lions – Offensively, the Lions should be as good as any in the league. In addition to Calvin Johnson, Detroit has a fairly deep talent pool at the wide-receiver position for Matt Stafford to throw to. The addition of Reggie Bush in the backfield sets up a nice “thunder and lightning” rushing combo with Mikel LeShoure. Rookie guard Larry Warford out of Kentucky will be a difference maker immediately. Pairing him up on the interior with veteran center Dominic Raiola gives the Lions a certain toughness they’ve lacked on the O-Line in recent years.
Defensively, everything starts up front. If Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and rookie Ziggy Ansah can all play to their potential, life will get easy fast for the rest of the defense. The veteran talent on the defensive side of the ball should be enough to allow Stafford and the offense to win games.
They should be considered a threat to win the NFC North outright.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs might have been the most talented team to ever earn the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. This team really is loaded and all they were missing was a coach who knew how to use what he had and some stability at the quarterback position. I believe they now have both in Andy Reid and Alex Smith. Guys like Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster should flourish in Reid’s system.
Defensively, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers provide the Chiefs with All-Pro talent at all three levels and should provide the core of what should be one of the better defenses in the league.
Look for the Chiefs to clinch a 5 or 6 seed in the AFC Playoffs and be that team nobody wants to face in January.
Dallas Cowboys – Not that the Cowboys are ever off anyone’s radar, but this might be the year when we need to take them seriously. Few receivers in the league had a better second have to their season than Dez Bryant (51 catches, 879 yards, 10 TDs). I expect Tony Romo to continue to look for ways to get him the ball as often as possible. In the backfield, DeMarco Murray is as good as there is when he’s healthy. Rookie Joseph Randle will go a long way in preserving Murray for a last season push. Jason Witten should be back at full-go and will have company over the middle in rookie Gavin Escobar – an Aaron Hernandez-like talent.
On defense, Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware should continue to provide a menacing pass-rush while Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne lock down the receivers they will be asked to cover.
In an NFC East with a lot of questions, it would not surprise me at all to see the Cowboys win the division and get a first-round bye in the postseason.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON MAY 10, 2013