Top 5 Playoff Sleepers
Ahhh, it’s that time of year again. Football is finally back. And as with the tradition, there are the preseason predictions. Some might say bold, I would agree with them. Here are the top 5 playoff sleepers that could make it to the Dance.
5) Oakland Raiders
Full disclosure, I am a Raiders fan. However, that doesn’t blur the lines of impartiality in this decision. Additionally, I will note that I recently had a traumatic paper cut injury that has required powerful pain medication. That being said, let’s get into it.
The Good: This is one of the most improved Defenses in the league. Combined with a Defensive Minded Head Coach, Del Rio, the ingredients are definitely in place to cause havoc to opposing offenses. Khalil Mack is undeniably one of the most ferocious, physical, and versatile up and coming athletes the league has ever seen, 4 sacks in the prior year not withstanding. Also, the addition of Free Agents Malcolm Smith and Nate Allen has brought a lot of consistency and experience to the back 7.
Concerns: The passing game. While it was an amazing draft pick up in Amari Cooper, it will take some time to develop chemistry with Carr. Having a veteran like Michael Crabtree has absolutely improved the squad, it is another year or two before this unit operates on all cylinders.
Also, this will be a very difficult division to win.
4) Houston Texans
Are you crazy Darnz? The answer is yes. But this team has is going to surprise a lot of people. Now, Brad thinks I’ve drank the Kool Aide doled out by Hard Knocks, but he wears pink shirts. Not sure how that’s relevant, either way, here we go.
The Good: This defensive unit is downright scary. (noticing a theme?). JJ Watt is no question on of the best on either side of the ball, and with a healthy Clowney, I don’t know the other Offensive Lines of the AFC South. Now the QB situation. Yes, this is not in the concern category. I’m a bit befuddled as to why people are underestimating Brian Hoyer. Need I remind you, he won games on the Cleveland Browns, and that is no easy task. Sure he struggled last season when the Manziel Media frenzy came into town, but now he has a new scenery, a solid coaching staff, and a real opportunity to change some minds.
I see the Colts winning the division, but their other opponents are the Jags and Titans. This has Wild Card written all of it.
Concerns: Establishing the run game. I do believe Alfred Blue is a very talented back. He belongs in the change of pace role. I like the power of Polk, but there is a growth curve before he can take on the 3 down back role. Even when Arian comes back, there is a smaller injury risk on an Alaskan Crab Fishing Vessel that that in which has plagued Mr. Foster.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars
Darnz, how much blood did you loose from that paper cut accident. Not that much, but I thank you for your concern. I know what your thinking. But but but Darnz, Julius Thomas needs finger surgery, and will be out for a month. I assure you that was taken into consideration.
The Good: Well I did it. Color me silly, but they have performed outstanding in preseason. Blake Bortles has showed incredible poise, and they have moved the ball effectively. Allen Hurns has big play ability, and Robinson has a very high consistency, and This is a very talented group of Running Backs as well.
(See note above) Outside of the Colts, there is a solid shot for the Jags to find their way into the wild card race.
Concerns: The trenches. It is imperative to keep Bortles jersey clean. Luke Joeckel has the ability to be an amazing tackle, and has improved, but needs to improve on the consistency. It was a very tough break to loose 1st Rounder, Dante Fowler Jr. right away, but this team has to find a way to get after the quarterback.
2) Buffalo Bills
Now you see where I’m going. No? Well hang tight because this team is going to shock some people.
The Good: Defense, defense, defense. Did I mention their defense? Now, they have been a pretty solid unit over the past few seasons, but now they have the Blitz Master himself, Rex Ryan. The words you will hear regarding this D will be: “Turnover”, “Sack”, “TFL”, and “Pressure.” Also worth noting, Charles Clay has drastically improved the TE position.
This is an extremely tough division sans Jets.
Concerns: QB. That’s not saying Tyrod doesn’t have talent, I think he is very good. Also, I think Taylor gives them the best possible chance of getting some Ws. His accuracy needs improvement which will force him to use his legs more increasing the chance of injury.
1) Miami Dolphins
While the Patriots are the favorite to win the AFC East, I think the Dolphins have a real shot at being the new powerhouse.
The Good: Everything. This is one of the most complete teams in the NFL right now. Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills figure to have an amazing year with Tannehill. And then, of all things, you take a great defense and add Suh to the mix, my good Lord in heaven. Philbin has done a great job with this team despite bullying scandals and misfires (looking at you Mike Wallace).
(See note above)
Concerns: Simply put, the Patriots.
Well that wraps up your top 5 Playoff Sleepers. Make sure to tune in Weekdays at noon.