Several NFL teams with high expectations missed the playoffs last season, and they will be looking to bounce back in 2012.
A few teams that had disappointing seasons in 2011 went out and did great work this offseason to bolster their rosters. Here is a look at three teams that missed the playoffs last year, but will crack the postseason this season.
The Chargers were an incredibly disappointing 8-8 last season after entering the season with extremely high hopes. Head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith both managed to retain their jobs, but they won't be employed long if the Bolts don't figure out a way to win in 2012.
Smith set about rebuilding San Diego's roster this offseason and he did it with tough, high-character guys who will make those around them better. He went out and snagged hard-nosed veterans like outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and fulllback Le'Ron McClain.
Meanwhile, Smith also grabbed wide receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal to give quarterback Philip Rivers more targets to throw to. In the 2012 NFL draft Smith further bolstered his defense by using his first three picks on outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, defensive lineman Kendall Reyes and and safety Brandon Taylor.
Simply put, the Chargers got a whole lot better this offseason and in the weak AFC West, where a 9-7 record can earn you a playoff berth, the Bolts have to be favorites right now. If they don't make the postseason, expect both Turner and Smith to be looking for jobs when the season ends.
The Philadelphia Eagles made a huge splash last offseason by rounding up several big name players and slapping together a roster that was expected by many to bring back a Super Bowl title.
That didn't happen.
The 2011 Eagles were a complete disaster as all those big name additions couldn't work out how to play with each other. Philadelphia opened the year 1-5, then worked their way to 4-8 before winning their final four contests.
The upcoming season will be a make-or-break year for head coach Andy Reid, quarterback Michael Vick and this current crop of Eagles players. If they can't figure out a way to make this work, the roster is likely to be blown up, while Reid will almost certainly be replaced as head coach.
That said, the Eagles will reach the postseason in 2012. They play in an extremely difficult division and must twice face the Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl champion New York Giants and the young and up-and-coming Washington Redskins.
The Eagles will be much better in 2012 and there is no reason to believe they won't reach the playoffs. They were on a run at the end of the 2011 season and will carry that over into this year.
The Tennessee Titans were a surprising 9-7 in 2011 and that was with running back Chris Johnson turning in a supremely disappointing season.
With Johnson back in form, top receiver Kenny Britt back healthy after ACL surgery and the quarterback competition between Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker settled, the Titans will be even better this season.
Hasselbeck and Locker still have to work out who will be starting under center, but The Titans are going to be better just from their offseason pickups and draft picks.
Guys like receiver Kendall Wright, linebacker Zach Brown and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh should all make a big impact this year, and will only bolster a very solid roster.
The Titans will be in contention to win the AFC South, but probably won't be able to catch the Houston Texans. But I'd be shocked if they don't sneak into the postseason with a wild card berth.