In the NFL, teams can change their fortune in a hurry. A terrible season can be followed by a great one, and vice versa.
Last year, teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks reached the postseason after coming into the year with low expectations. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers failed to reach the playoffs despite having plenty of talent.
This season is certain to feature more of the same, with a number of teams having a better or worse year compared to how they finished. These will be some of the biggest movers heading into Week 1.
Kansas City Chiefs
Last season: 2-14; Move: Up
Few teams had a better offseason than the Kansas City Chiefs. Even before grabbing Eric Fisher with the first overall pick in the draft, the team made a huge upgrade at quarterback by trading for Alex Smith.
Last season, Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined to throw only eight touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions. While Smith might not be a game changer, his efficient play will be a huge improvement at the position.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs had six Pro Bowlers a year ago, so the roster obviously has talent. With an experienced coach like Andy Reid in charge, the team can do big things this year.
Last season: 13-3; Move: Down
Some people think Atlanta will be Super Bowl contenders this season after narrowly losing in the NFC Championship Game. Additionally, the team added Steven Jackson to round out the running attack.
Unfortunately, the offensive line is still relatively weak and could keep the offense from being dominant.
On defense, the team was helped out a lot by its ability to force turnovers. The Falcons had 31 turnovers, including 20 interceptions to finish fifth in the NFL in takeaways. This masked a unit that ranked 23rd against the pass and 21st against the run.
Some different bounces would have hurt the team last year, and poor luck could cause some issues this time around.
Last season: 7-9; Move: Up
Ryan Tannehill struggled last season with a quarterback rating of 76.1, but he showed plenty of potential with his arm and his legs. A full year of experience under his belt will help him move to the top half of quarterbacks in the league.
Of course, it is important to note that the Dolphins were still able to finish 7-9 despite inconsistency at quarterback. If Tannehill can make the jump this year, Miami could be a legitimate playoff contender.
This talent coming together will make Miami a much better team than it was last year.
Last season: 10-6; Move: Down
The Ravens made a surprising run to a Super Bowl title last season, but it would be even more shocking if they can do it again.
While Ray Lewis' retirement took away a lot of leadership from the defense, the loss of talent will also hurt. Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams and others are gone as well.
Offensively, Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta were safety nets for Joe Flacco, but neither will help early on. Boldin is now with the San Francisco 49ers, while Pitta is out for at least most of the year with a dislocated hip.
Baltimore still has quality players on the roster, but the losses might be too much to overcome.
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