2013 NFL Predictions: Teams Sure to Have Massive Turnarounds This Season
Since the NFL regular season hasn't started yet, there is at least some sort of hope for all 32 teams' fanbases to talk themselves into the 2013 campaign being successful.
Even some of the league's worst teams from last year are fully capable of turning things around.
Just look at the Indianapolis Colts, who tied for the worst record by finishing 2-14 in 2011 then promptly turned around and won 11 games.
That turnaround was largely sparked by a regime change—and the selection of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in the draft. But a similar state of flux is in store for two teams that figure to have massive turnarounds.
Another struggling franchise played in a tough division that featured three double-digit win teams last season but still remained competitive. It should recover with a stronger effort this time around.
Below is a breakdown of those teams, along with their best and worst case scenarios, as spelled out by B/R's own NFL experts.
Kansas City Chiefs
After holding the No. 1 overall pick in the most recent NFL draft, the new-look Chiefs are primed for an instant turnaround under the new regime led by head coach Andy Reid.
The play-calling duties will rest with Reid's creative mind, which has its roots in the West Coast system. That is an ideal fit for the short accuracy and quick decision-making that helped revitalize quarterback Alex Smith's career in San Francisco.
Superstar running back Jamaal Charles is an electric runner with breakaway speed. He can also catch out of the backfield. Reid should take advantage of his talents much in the same way he used LeSean McCoy with the Eagles.
Smith will be well-protected with the tackle tandem of Branden Albert and top draft choice Eric Fisher.
On defense, there is an abundance of talent.
A secondary featuring the corner tandem of Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith, along with Eric Berry, should improve immensely. Stud linebackers Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali will continue to be Pro Bowl staples, and second-year NT Dontari Poe should continue to develop.
On paper, this looks like a totally stacked team. With a proven winner in Reid at the helm, the Chiefs have all the makings of a rapid renaissance.
Now that the running back depth is more solidified with incoming starter Reggie Bush and the promising Mikel Leshoure spelling him occasionally, Detroit should have a far more balanced offense.
That has to be great news for Matthew Stafford, who uncorked a ridiculous 727 pass attempts last season and consequently took quite a pummeling.
Stafford does have the best receiver in football in Calvin Johnson, of course. But the main reasons he threw so much were an inconsistent running game and a leaky, undisciplined defense.
The team endured a season-ending eight-game losing streak in 2012. Only three of the Lions' 12 losses were by double digits, though. A turnover margin of minus-16 absolutely destroyed the Lions.
With an emerging, maturing defensive tackle tandem in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to pair with freak athlete Ezekiel Ansah on the defensive line, opposing quarterbacks will be frightened.
Glover Quin was acquired to help the Lions secondary, while Stephen Tulloch still is the heart of the Lion defense at middle linebacker.
There is too much talent here for the Lions not to succeed. Even in a difficult NFC North division, look for Detroit to bounce back in a big way, with Bush's presence as a runner and receiver making a huge difference.
Yet another dynamic shift is occurring in the Browns' organization, but it looks like this team could finally turn a corner and instantly compete with much of the NFL.
A lot of exciting pieces occupy the new-look 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Three athletic 300-pounders occupy the defensive trenches: Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor and free-agent acquisition Desmond Bryant.
Ex-Baltimore Raven Paul Kruger was brought in to be a pass-rushing specialist off the edge, and rookie Barkevious Mingo figures to do the same when he returns from a bruised lung injury.
Then there's new play-caller Norv Turner, whose vertical passing game caters better to Brandon Weeden's deep ball strength than Pat Shurmur's previous vanilla, predictable "attack."
Baltimore is the reigning Super Bowl champion, but a ton of roster turnover and leadership changes in the locker room aren't guaranteed to mesh. The Pittsburgh Steelers are always a threat, but they have plenty of question marks: no surefire running back, a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger and a prior record of 8-8.
Who is likeliest to make the 2013 playoffs?
Consider this: The Bengals only beat two teams in 2012 that wound up in the playoffs. Week 2 was the site of one victory over the Washington Redskins, who hadn't come close to peaking, and the other was in Week 17 against Baltimore, which was resting its starters.
In the previous year, the Bengals didn't beat a single team that qualified for the postseason en route to a wild-card berth.
The Browns' stock may not be sky-high, but it is trending upward—and could very well result in a shocking, positive change in the wins column due to the uncertainty facing the other teams in the AFC North.
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