One of the beautiful aspects of sports in general is that “anything can happen” type of feel to it. We all know in the 17 weeks we have of regular season football crazy things can happen, and can cause many fans asking themselves: “Where did they come from?”, and it is no different this season as there are going to be one to two teams that will do better then what projected to be. So let’s get started with the six sleeper teams for this NFL season.
6. Detroit Lions- The Lions had a rough 2012 season. After making the playoffs in 2011, the Lions seem to spudder out of control facing a really tough schedule last season, but now the Lions will be going against a much easier road and will look to surprise some fans on what they can truly do. Reggie Bush is a key factor to this Lion’s offense, if he can take advantage of safeties, and linebackers having to be out of position to cover the man known as Megatron we could truly see a career season for Bush in both rushing, and receiving yards this season. As well the Lions will have a nice slot weapon in Ryan Broles returning which could cause great mis matches for opposing defenses. The Lions offense seems like it is going to be one of the more fun offenses to watch in the NFL, but the only problem is the Lion’s defense. The Defense for the Lions is still pedestrian, and if they don’t step up Detroit will keep losing close shootout games. Chris Houston, and rookie Darius Slay will have to step up in that secondary if the Lions want to see any success. The reason why the Lions only make six on this list because people do expect Detroit to surprise some folks, but also a lot of people are expecting the Lions to do nothing as well. So they are kind of a mix bag, but no one is completely sleeping on them.
5. San Diego Chargers- The superchargers have a new coach at the helm in Mike McCoy, the second youngest coach in the league. McCoy is going to be interesting to see what he brings to the tables, and if he can repair the career of Phillip Rivers. Rivers the Chargers quarterback has not been playing like the pro bowl player he once was. Rivers these past two seasons has had struggles taking care of the football, but in all honesty we can also blame the lack of weapons surrounding Rivers, but Rivers is not the Key factor for the Chargers success. No it is actually Ryan Matthews. The Chargers were spoiled in having Ladanian Tomlinson as there runningback, that when it was time to move on they haven’t. Ryan Matthews had huge shoes to fill for the future hall of famer, but he has not delivered at all from what the Chargers were expecting. Injuries seem to effect his game alot, and the thing is Matthews has the potential to be a good runningback in the league, but the Chargers need to see that potential flourish so that they know he is there guy in the long haul. This is a huge year for Mr. Matthews as a tail back. The Defense for the Chargers are stout and should do well. If there is anyone on the defense you want to look at and they have to prove it for the Chargers look no further then Dereck Cox. The former Jaguar has a great potential to be a top 10 corner in the league, but injuries have always hurt Cox, if Cox can help Weddle, and Wright in the secondary this Chargers defense will be looking pretty solid this year. Overall the Chargers are fifth because most people expect them to suck, but that’s what makes them a good sleeper, but the only reason why they are five is because: They still have a good quarterback to work with, there defense is pretty solid, and they always perform well late in the season,.Another thing to note is if the Chargers still had future breakout stars in Danario Alexander, and Melvin Ingram healthy they would be a lot higher on the list. So thats why the Chargers are five.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Schiano and the Bucs make it number four here. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are an interesting team. They have good talent on both offense, and defense side of the ball, but why is it every year they consistently underperform? The Buccaneers always seem to let there fans down. Last season they started off hot, but ended up losing there cool in the middle of the season, but Tampa Bay needs to find out if they have there guy. There man at the QB position and that is why Josh Freeman is the key factor here in Tampa. Freeman needs to perform he has a solid tailback behind him in Martin. You have a big target in Jackson, and a solid compliment in Williams. Your O-Line is massive, and is pretty good, now it is time to perform. Freeman is on contract year, and if he is looking to get paid by the Buccaneers or any team for that matter he needs to step it up big time to show he is a “franchise” Quarterback. On defense it will be missed with no Ronde Barber in that secondary, but they replaced Barbers absence with Rookie Johnathan Banks, Dashon Goldson, and Darelle Revis. These three are great in the secondary, but there last partner in crime is Mark Barron. Barron will be taking up a different role in Tampa this year. With great coverage guys in Revis, and rookie Banks. Baron will have to play a run support type of role, and will be featured a lot more in the blitz’s. He will need to embrace that role because we all know Revis he does whatever he wants on defense. He covers off one half of the whole field. If Barron can embrace that role, and do well with it we can see a definitely scary looking Tampa defense. Tampa only makes four on my list because people do expect them to do good, but I feel more people are giving the Panthers a better chance then the Buccaneers. I also think Tampa Bay is really talented and has the chance to explode if they can just execute well every single down. That is why Tampa will be four.
3. Cleveland Browns- What the Browns being a sleeper? Believe it this team is looking pretty nice on the pieces department, and with the aging Steelers, and the Ravens depth looking pretty bad Cleveland could make a huge jump. Cleveland on offense is a solid core group of guys. Though with Norv Turner coming in the offense will be done a lot differently. It will look a bit more smoother then previous Brown offenses, but who is the key factor. Is it Weeden? No to me Weeden’s age is a great advantage because he is understanding, and will be willing to make adjustments. Weeden is someone that wants to be coached so he will do well it is actually one of Weedens targets in Greg Little. Greg Little is interesting in Cleveland. I remember when I heard Cleveland was looking to use Little as there number on receiver I thought they were crazy. Little is good, but he is no number one target for a team, but now it seems with the emergence of Baylor stud Josh Gordon, maybe Little can play as a good number 2 receiver. Little needs to be consistent on catching the football. He is good on losing his man, and breaking coverage, but when it comes down to it his hands aren’t strong and it seems he drops a lot of balls. If we see Little improve this Browns offense could have a nice combination to watch out for in Gordon, and Little. Defense wise the Browns are nice on the defense side of the ball. To me though they key factor on the defense would have to be newly signed Paul Krueger. If Krueger can play like he did for Baltimore in the later season Cleveland can see a major improvement in the sacks department. In all honesty the Browns defense is not that bad, and will keep them in games. There is not a lot of bad things I can say about this defense. Browns are three because they fit every quality it takes to be a sleeper team. The question is well they perform even with all these new changes, will the Cleveland Brown identity change? If it does it would be a nice refreshing scene for the national football league.
2. Arizona Cardinals- Larry Fitzgerald your prayers have been answered Carson Palmer is here. That move right there showed Arizona is serious about competiing with the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams with the tough NFC West competition there. The Cardinals are looking to get a lot out of this Palmer deal and I wil believe they will. Palmer is not a bad quarterback, he was put in a crap situation by both the Bengals, and Raiders. The man has made dudes on the Raiders like Moore, and Streater valuable players. What is he gonna do with guys like Fitzgerald, Floyd, and Roberts? Here is the answer: A lot of great things. The key factor for success for the offense of Cardinals is rookie guard Jonathan Cooper. If Cooper can do well with guarding for that interior we will see a lot more success for Carson Palmer. Palmer is someone that needs interior protection, and if Cooper can provide that then we will see some magic happen in Arizona. Defense on Arizona well Karlos Dansby need to step up for that linebacker position. The Cardinals felt like they would have a great young linebacker in Daryl Washington come back for them and do wonders, but off the field issues sort of ended that relationship. Dansby though feels he can play great football, and here is his chance to prove it. Overall the Cardinals are a well solid team and has sleeper written all over them. Most people are choosing the Rams, but when you look at this Cardinals team they feel more ready to challenge the scary NFC West. They would be number one, but there is another team I saw that will surprise people more then the Cardinals would.
1. Tennessee Titans- The Titans spell sleeper with huge letters. The reason being is because the Titans are easily one team no one expects to do well at all. To the life of me I don’t know why. Seeing them rank at 27 is very misleading, and this team I could see turn some heads this season. Jake locker is the key here. If Locker is able to get to the ball to Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington. You will see a dynamic passing offense in Tennessee as all receivers bring something different to the defenses down there in Tennessee. Especially since they have Justin Hunter, and Damien Williams as back up receivers those two are scary. Then you have smash and dash back. Thanks to new guards Chance Warmack rookie from Alabama, and veteran Andy Levitrie coming from the Buffalo Bills the inside rush game is big for the Titans. Now offensively I think we will see great improvements from the Titans. Defensively is where they struggle. It is up to the interior line of that defense to cause more sacks, but ultimately this up to friend of the Before the Snap website Alturaun Verner, and the secondary to step it up. The secondary if they make more plays on defense and not allow so many easy yards on them. Watch out cause this Titan team is scary.
Agree or Disagree post your six sleeper teams in the NFL.