Every year, there's a few teams that, for some reason or another, become popular analyst picks to make "surprise" playoff run. This year has been no different. Here's a few teams that seem to be popular picks this offseason to make that leap.
The Dolphins are probably the least predictable of all trendy picks this offseason. Most cite Ryan Tannehill's big year as their reasoning for predicting a big year for the Dolphins. The problem is that they're talking about Tannehill's big year in 2013, which as you know, hasn't actually happened yet. It's reasonable to think that the Dolphins will be in the talk for a wildcard playoff birth, but to think they can top the Patriots for the AFC East crown is a little bit optimistic for my taste.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs would have made this list last year too, and we all saw how that turned out. The difference this time around is they have a proven head coach and a quarterback that was one of the most efficient passers in the league a season ago. The Chiefs got bitten in a big way by the injury bug last season, but with a little luck, there's no reason they shouldn't be the team with the biggest single-season turnaround in the NFL.
When aren't the Lions a trendy pick? This is a make-or-break year for the Lions, and the hype machine has already started. We do know a few things about the Lions that will likely continue to be true. They have a great quarterback, no running game, and their defense is woefully inconsistent. With good discipline, the Lions can make a run, but considering their history under Jim Schwartz, don't hold you breath.
Yes, I'm aware that the Redskins made it into the playoffs a season ago, but this year, the expectations are even higher. We wouldn't exactly say that Mike Shanahan is on the hot seat, but with high aspirations, anything short of winning the NFC East would be considered a huge disappointment. Much of the Redskins' success will be predicated around Robert Griffin III's ability to make plays with his arm and legs.