Predicting the Most Surprising NFL Teams of the 2012 Season
Not every Super Bowl contender gets a load of publicity prior to the season's start, considering that the media is content to cover the most interesting teams before the year gets underway.
A number of NFL teams are currently flying under the radar, and while most of the following aren't in the "Super Bowl contender" tier just yet, they could all sneak up on some teams and make things interesting come December.
Look for the following teams to make unprecedented noise in 2012.
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The trendy pick to surprise people in 2012, Buffalo finally has all of the pieces in place to field a competitive ballclub.
Defensively, the team figures to be stout. On offense, the Bills will look to run a spread-style attack with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a host of playmakers.
Chan Gailey should have a hungry bunch this season, so don't be surprised if the Bills sneak up on the league and capture a wild card.
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Record-wise, this team was the NFL's worst in 2011. It's only sensible to figure that this team won't perform too well in 2012.
However, new quarterback Andrew Luck has stepped in and made this franchise a contender. GM Ryan Grigson has done an excellent job bringing in no-nonsense guys who just want to win.
New Colts like Tom Zbikowski, Cory Redding and Vontae Davis know what it takes to win games and will point this lowly franchise in the right direction.
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The Bengals have done a fantastic job moving past the Carson Palmer/Chad Ochocinco era and into the Andy Dalton/A.J. Green era.
Once an unstable franchise with no clear direction, the team should be able to build on 2011 success with the second-year combination of Dalton and Green.
Past that, on defense, the team is stacked with an extremely deep pool of cornerbacks and an above-average defensive line.
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Another rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, gives the Redskins the most hope that the team has had in a while.
Along with their new signal-caller, the team has added dynamic vertical threats like Pierre Garcon and should field a high-powered attack on offense.
The Redskins are underrated across the board and could surprise some people by contending in a tough NFC East.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The Buccaneers loaded up during the offseason, bringing in a new head coach, a No. 1 wide receiver, an All-Pro offensive guard, a top-flight safety prospect and a new feature back.
Greg Schiano, Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Mark Barron and Doug Martin are all part of the 2012 movement in Tampa Bay, and this team is a lot different than the dreadful squad of 2011.
Schiano should have his squad playing well from the get-go, and based on his various bowl appearances with Rutgers, it seems as though Schiano-coached teams tend to overachieve.
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With two capable running backs in the backfield, a healthy Gabe Carimi on the offensive line and a revamped receiving corps, Cutler is the new "X-Factor" in this Bears attack.
The Chicago defense will be good, as it always is, and it seems as though the Bears could even contend with Green Bay for the divisional title.
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Russell Wilson is a very motivated individual who has big-game experience and would be more than happy to lead his Seahawks to the playoffs as a rookie quarterback.
The defense is as good as it's ever been in Seattle, with an uber-opportunistic secondary and a solid front seven.
On offense, Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch will operate a simple ball-control offense and try to win a war of attrition every Sunday.