Based on offseason acquisitions and the development of young stars, five teams are poised to have breakout seasons. Whether it is a new signing, impact rookie or reputable coaches, this article highlights the top five teams that will exceed expectations in the 2011–2012 NFL season. These five teams are primed to take the league by storm this year. Will your favorite team be one of them?
With the continued development of quarterback Josh Freeman, the Buccaneers have an outside chance of winning the NFC South. Look for wide receiver Mike Williams and running back LeGarrete Blount to build upon solid 2010 seasons. Also, with two highly regarded rookie defensive linemen in Adrian Clayborne and Da'Quan Bowers to join former No. 3 overall pick Gerald McCoy, the Bucs should improve on their 28th ranked rushing defense leading to a breakout season.
Any time a starting quarterback returns from a major injury suffered during the last season, such as Tony Romo and the Cowboys, that team should have a better year. The most important acquisition this offseason was the outspoken defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. Ryan brings swagger and a scheme that will drastically improve the lackluster Cowboy defense. Second-year wide receiver and returner Dez Bryant showed flashes of greatness last year and should play a key role in the team's success during the 2011 season.
After a decade of futility, the Detroit Lions are gearing up for what should be a stellar 2011. The Lions improve their defensive by adding rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley to the already stout defensive line. Speedy linebacker Justin Durant should add pressure from the outside to coincide with the strength upfront, and the Lions should have a formidable pass rush. The Lions also add tackle machine Stephen Tulloch to the Linebacking core.With quarterback Matthew Stafford at 100 percent heading in to the season, the offense should exceed expectations. Jahvid Best is a sleeper at running back and rookie Titus Young joins Mega-tron (Calvin Johnson) at wide receiver.
After a seven to nine season in 2010, the Rams are set for a playoff run in 2011. The offense returns wide receiver Donnie Avery and adds wide receivers Mike Sims-Walker, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas as weapons for Sam Bradford. Steven Jackson and the young offense should have an amazing year under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is often regarded as an offensive guru, and although he failed as a head coach, he did coach the record-setting 2007 Patriots' offense. The defense adds speed rushing rookie Robert Quinn and veteran defensive backs Quintin Mikell and Al Harris to vastly improve the 19th ranked pass defense.
The Texans defense that has been the Achilles heel of the team for the past year improve immensely during the offseason with rookie defensive ends J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed. Stars Mario Williams and Brian Cushing return, and cornerback Jonathon Joseph was signed to improve the secondary. Wade Phillips has also been hired as the defensive coordinator and switched the defense to the three-four scheme that will tremendously improve the 32nd ranked pass defense a season ago. The Texan offense is back returning all skilled players, including Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and the underrated Matt Schaub. Could this be the year the Texans win the AFC South? I think so.