Here are the teams that I see in the middle of the pack after draft and where they currently stand heading into the upcoming NFL Season.
A very successful season which ended in a bad way seeing the Vikings lose their playoff spot and just missing the playoffs might still be on their minds right now. The future is bright for Minnesota especially with Adrian Peterson back for his 2nd season. If the Vikings want to make the playoffs this season though they need better play from the quarterback position, last years team was carried by the running game and the defense, to be a challenger in the playoffs they need better QB play.
12. Tennessee Titans
The Titans look to build on what was a very good season last year which saw them make the playoffs. Vince Young will need to work past his inconsistencies in the passing game if this team wants to go further then they did last season. The Titans defense won many games for this team last season but this year they need more help from the offense if they want to go places in the playoffs.
The Eagles look to build on what was in a way a poor season last year. If Mcnabb and Westbrook can stay healthy the entire season this team could compete for a wild card spot or even a NFC East title. A big signing in Asante Samuel really strengthens this already strong defense. Now it's up to the all around game of offense and defense together to make this team as successful as it was only a couple of seasons ago.
A team that easily could've made the playoffs last season had it not been for bad breaks here and there throughout the season brings back their high powered offense. Matt Leinart was named the starter, will this be the season he steps up and becomes that talent he was highly touted as being before he was drafted? The Cardinals are fine with receivers as Boldin and Fitzgerald are two of the best in the game. The Cards defense must improve especially in the secondary if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
Losing their franchise player and franchise staple for many years won't be an easy position to replace but Aaron Rodgers seems to be ready to step out of the shadows of Brett Favre. Ryan Grant who stepped up as an unknown sensation comes back as the feature back for an entire season, how effective will he be this season? The Packers are a year older which is good for this team that is still very young, they are more mature for this season. They most likely will not win 13 games this season but I believe they will make the playoffs as a division winner or wild card.
16. Denver Broncos
The Broncos look to build after a down season last year. Will Jay Cutler also take that step to play great football rather then just average football which is all we have seen so far. The Broncos have about 47 running backs that can do the job so they are set in that position. They also have one of the best corners in the game in Champ Bailey, Denver should be a contender this year as they usually are for a wild card spot.
An up and down season of losing three then winning three and so on did them in as the season dwindled down last year. This year they look to be the team that they were during the 2006 season. Drew Brees returns after having a good season after starting slow. Will Reggie Bush finally step up and run the ball effectively? Will Deuce be able to come back from a knee injury and be successful? The Saints will go as their defense goes also, if Jason David doesn't get beat by the deep ball more then ten times this season the Saints should be ok.
18. Houston Texans
A team that surprised many last year and won the most games in their franchises short history looks to build off that for this season. Matt Schaub was effective when he wasn't hurt and Andre Johnson could be the best receiver in the NFL that isn't a household name. Mario Williams should've been a pro bowler last season and this season I think he definitely will be especially with a chip on his shoulder from getting shunned this past season. If the Texans can establish a solid #1 running back they will win more then 8 games this season.
An early season injury to QB Jake Delhomme basically doomed Carolina last season and it definitely showed. Steve Smiths numbers were way down last season, if Delhomme can be healthy this season the Panthers will be very successful. Julius Peppers anchors a pretty decent defense that just wasn't healthy enough last year. Bottom line, if healthy the Panthers will win a lot of games next year.
How will new head coach Jim Zorn do in his first season as being something more then a QB coach. If his track record is any indication he will make QB Jason Campbell a very good player. I dropped the Redskins in the power rankings even though they made the playoffs last year because I believe they won many games off of emotion for what happened to Sean Taylor. With a new coach they could go either way this season, and they play in what I feel is the toughest division in football. They have the players there to perform well but with a new coach they could be a year away again.
21. Buffalo Bills
The Bills were one of the bigger surprises last season even with a 7-9 record. They changed QB's mid-season going with rookie Trent Edwards, Edwards looks to be the starter going into the season this year and that could mean a drastic improvement. Problem is the Pats are in the same division and their best shot is finishing 2nd in the division again and fighting for a wild card spot. They do have some studs there with 2nd yr back Marshawn Lynch and wideout Lee Evans. Buffalo is definitely a team on the rise.
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