NFL Preseason: 10 Teams Who Have Improved Most

Jeffrey Schmidt@JeffSchmidt9Correspondent IIIAugust 29, 2011

NFL Preseason: 10 Teams Who Have Improved Most

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    The NFL preseason is where teams find hidden gems, practice their game plans and most of all, begin to try to improve on last year's results. This preseason has already given us some great action and not to mention a look at some teams who have improved tremendously.

    Then again, it is only the preseason, and even when the Lions went 4-0 during the 2008 preseason, those four wins didn't translate to one win during that season.  

    With all that being said, here are the 10 teams who have improved the most so far this preseason. 

10. Buffalo Bills

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    The Buffalo Bills were atrocious during the first two preseason games, and Buffalo fans were already throwing in the towel and pre-ordering their Andrew Luck jerseys. Then Week 3 came along, and the Bills offense looked as if it were 1992 all over again. 

    Ryan Fitzpatrick was on fire, going 11-12 for 165 and two touchdowns. The offensive line looked like a totally different unit, giving Fitzpatrick solid time in the pocket and also provided running backs with solid lanes to run the football.

    The defense was suspect while allowing 32 points, but the Bills pass defensive looks to once again be one of the league's best.

9. Carolina Panthers

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    The Carolina Panthers needed a fresh start, and that's exactly what they're getting with quarterback Cam Newton. Newton has looked good not great during the preseason thus far, but he has shown the ability to run and pick up clutch first downs. 

    Newton should be the starter by the time week one rolls around, due to the fact that both quarterbacks have played about as equal as you can during a quarterback battle. The Carolina ground game will be the key to this team's success, and the acquisitions of Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey should not go unnoticed either.

    This team has a swagger about them this year and have been much improved from what I've seen so far this preseason.  

8. Arizona Cardinals

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    Kevin Kolb alone makes this team improved, and the Kolb-to-Larry Fitzgerald connection is looking like it could potentially be a top one in the league.

    The ground game is once again the Achilles heal for the Cardinals this season, and it took a huge blow with the trade of Tim Hightower and the loss of rookie Ryan Williams who is out for the season.  

    The Cardinals could have a Pro Bowl corner on their side with draft pick Patrick Peterson, making the trade of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie not seem so bad.  No matter how you look at it, the Cardinals will be much improved from their 2010 season. 

7. Minnesota Vikings

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    The Vikings may have lost a key contributer in Sidney Rice during the offseason, but they added a proven NFL quarterback who still has a few years left in the tank. Donovan McNabb has his first power running game of his underrated career, and I expect him to flourish in it. 

    Bernard Berrian seems to be coming out of his shell as of late and should be a big part of this potentially potent Vikings attack. 

    The defense took a blow when it lost Pat Williams and Ray Edwards during the offseason, but the unit should be in the top 15 in the league this season. 

6. New Orleans Saints

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    The Saints look to be Super Bowl hungry once again this season, and Mark Ingram maybe the key to their chances. Ingram has provided the Saints with a down hill vertical running attack, which is something the Saints have lacked over the past few seasons. 

    Drew Brees looks to be in sync with his plethora of targets once again, and the front seven of this defensive of unit is going to give opposing offensive lines headaches.

    The addition of Darren Sporlos will add that "Reggie Bush" element once again to this potent offensive, and it may work out better with Sproles proving to have the ability to stay healthy.  

5. St. Louis Rams

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    The Rams added some much need fire power on their offense during the offseason. Mike Sims-Walker gives Sam Bradford a big target to throw to, and Donnie Avery should back to full strength by the start of the season after last year's season ending injury.  

    The ground game has also improved, with the additions of Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood as they will help take some of the burden off of Pro Bowler Steven Jackson.

    Steve Spagunolo's defense needs to do a better job stopping the run, but they have definitely seen improvement in their third season in his system.  

4. Miami Dolphins

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    The Dolphins play in arguably the best division in football, which makes them a hard team to predict for this season. Chad Henne's inconsistent play has buried them over the past two seasons, but there seems to be a sense of confidence from the Dolphins quarterback.

    Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Larry Johnson will try to replace the production of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, which is something I could see happening due to the improvements made on the offensive line.

    The Fins bring back their No. 6 rated defense from a year ago, and they look like they haven't lost a step.   

3. Houston Texans

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    The Texans defense was the Achilles heal for the team last season, but they seem to have it all figured out during the preseason. The unit is ranked second in the league after three weeks, and their new acquisitions seem to be making a big impact. 

    Newly acquired cornerback Johnathan Joseph should be ready for the season opener against Indianapolis, which will make this defense that much better.

    The offense will be atop the league once again this season, and with an improved defense, it could be No. 1.  

2. Cleveland Browns

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    Colt McCoy has reminded some Cleveland Browns fans of former star Bernie Kosar so far this preseason, as he has looked as good as any quarterback in the league.

    Mccoy has a 101.9 quarterback rating thus far, and he looks to have the ability to keep Cleveland in games week in and week out.

    Running back Armond Smith has made a case to make the team so far, by posting 7.1 yards per carry on 20 attempts, and Peyton Hillis will look to improve on his excellent 2010 campaign.

1. Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions have looked great so far this preseason. The defense is quarterback hungry, which is something they proved against Tom Brady and the Patriots just a few short days ago.  

    Matthew Stafford is firing on all cylinders, and his tight end Brand Pettigrew could be the most underrated in the game today. The defense in ranked sixth as a unit thus far, while the offense holds the No. 1 ranking.

    This team is young and full of energy, and it looks as if they can make a serious run at the playoffs if they can stay healthy as a group.