Bengals, Bills and Beyond: Are These NFL Surprises a Reality or Fantasy?

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Bengals, Bills and Beyond: Are These NFL Surprises a Reality or Fantasy?
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

In the back and forth pendulum of football favorites, teams such as the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals are proving the league's acronym to truly stand for the "Nobody Figured League." Every NFL season is filled with surprises, a roller coaster featuring more corkscrews than simple rises and falls.

While teams like the Patriots win their customary annual allotment of a dozen games, the rest of the NFL battles in the gray area, looking to secure leftover playoff slots and divisional titles in a mad scramble to the Week 17 finish.

Sometimes, the outcome is predictable.   Who doesn't ultimately believe that Drew Brees and the Saints will edge out their opponents in the NFC South or that Pittsburgh and Baltimore will battle for the AFC North?

Yet, there is an annual reality that seems like surreality.  Teams come from out of nowhere, garner the attention of football fanatics and become the frenzy of a success hungry media. 

Some of those surprising Cinderella's get to keep their glass slippers (2004 Chargers) and achieve long term success, while others find out that miraculous turnarounds can be merely single season fairy tales.  Could this apply to the 2010 Chiefs?

With the midway point of the NFL season on the horizon, there are many teams positioned to vie for shocking playoff appearances in the latter weeks.  It begs the question:

Is their success a reality, a sign of things to come for the foreseeable future?  Or, are their achievements a fantasy, a mere aberration covering for the struggles that are still ahead?

The following five teams each possess a surprising record of 4-2 or better.  Will the success of the 49ers, Raiders, Bills, Bengals and Lions prove legit moving forward in 2011?

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