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The 2012 season was the exception to the trend of a five or six turnover in playoff teams from one season to the next. I think there will be five teams (three NFC, two AFC) that will make the playoffs in 2013 after having missed them in 2012.
The NFC teams:
New York Giants: Eli Manning is underrated. The Giants’ wave of defensive linemen that can stop the run and rush the passer will mask deficiencies on the defense.
St. Louis Rams: Jeff Fisher will keep things very conservative on offense and that Rams defense is really good.
Detroit Lions: More options on offense for Matt Stafford. Better play from the front four on defense.
(I really wanted to put Dallas in the playoffs, but I do not trust Jason Garrett or his puppet master, Jerry Jones. Carolina is close, but I do not like the way Cam Newton deals with the ups and downs of an NFL season.)
Since nine teams cannot go, three from 2012 are out:
Green Bay Packers: Serious offensive line questions. The defense is really shaky as well.
Minnesota Vikings: They cannot even ponder Ponder passing.
Washington Redskins: I do not think RGIII can duplicate his remarkable 2012 season.
(I was tempted to really shock everyone and take out Seattle or San Francisco, but I just cannot do it. That means three playoff teams from the NFC West. That does not happen too often and those teams may really beat up on each other to the point that only one makes it to the playoffs.)
The AFC teams:
San Diego: The old Phillip Rivers will reappear to cover the many blemishes on this team.
Miami: Tannehill will improve and bring his team to the playoffs.
(I REALLY wanted to add the Steelers to this list, but their age on defense scared me away).
Since eight cannot go, two from 2012 are out:
Indianapolis: Winning the Daniel Snyder Offseason Trophy is a sure ticket to missing the playoffs.
New England: Old Tom Brady will really miss the dependable weapons he lost in the offseason.
(I wanted to add a second shock to this list and put in Denver. Denver is going to have to resort to blitzing a lot to generate a pass rush…even when Von Miller returns. I just think their defense is going to be awful.)