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NFL Playoff Chances From the Arizona Cardinals to Washington Redskins

Updated on June 3, 2013

There are 32 teams that kick things off in September for the 2013 NFL season, yet only 12 of them will win the right to go after a championship. Most of the off-season moves in free agency and the draft have begun to take effect and fans eagerly await to see what the finished product looks like on the field. The saying goes that every team has a chance at the start of a season. So which ones have the best chance?

Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians
Bruce Arians | Source

They have settled some important issues. Bruce Arians, who won Coach of the Year last season in relief of Chuck Pagano has taken over for Ken Whisenhunt. His first duty was settling down a rough quarterback spot by trading for Carson Palmer. These two moves plus the drafting of guard Jonathan Cooper give a big boost to the Cardinals offense. Whether it's enough to get them over the top in a very tough NFC West division is the big question.

Prediction: 6-10 - miss playoffs

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan | Source

Matt Ryan got his first taste of victory in the playoffs after four frustrating seasons of being one-and-done. Sadly his season ended just yards away from a winning touchdown to reach the Super Bowl. Atlanta now hopes the return of Tony Gonzales, signing of Osi Umenyiora and Steve Jackson and drafting corner Desmond Trufant will cover all the weaknesses in their latest bid to get over the hump. It's hard to see where they stand but their roster is good enough for another late postseason push.

Prediction: 10-6 - miss the playoffs

Baltimore Ravens

Ray Lewis and Ed Reed
Ray Lewis and Ed Reed | Source

Given what has happened since February GM Ozzie Newsome deserves a medal for what he has accomplished. After losing Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger and Danelle Ellerbe to retirement and free agency the Ravens defense looked dead in the water. Instead, through a mix of good luck and good drafting they picked up Elvis Dumervil in free agency along with Matt Elam and Arthur Brown in the draft. These pieces are enough to keep the defense under control. Joe Flacco should be able to handle the rest.

Prediction: 11-5 - wild card

Buffalo Bills

Doug Marrone
Doug Marrone | Source

Things needed to change in Buffalo and they did. Buddy Nix stepped down as general manager and Doug Marrone takes over as head coach. His success at Syracuse and the drafting of highly talented quarterback E.J. Manuel brings fresh optimism to the beleaguered franchise. However, given the changes happening and the instability at quarterback it may take more than a season for the Bills to get where they want to go.

Prediction: 4-12 - miss playoffs

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton
Cam Newton | Source

There is no doubt this team has improved since last season but a combination of factors are working against them in 2013. Cam Newton will play his first season at quarterback without offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski while league schedule makers saw fit to hand them the hardest schedule of any team in the NFL. Throw that on top of a playing in a tough division and it's hard seeing the Panthers taking that step forward. They are getting closer but aren't ready yet.

Prediction: 5-11 - miss playoffs

Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler at practice
Jay Cutler at practice | Source

The best team to miss the playoffs last season, Chicago underwent a lot of changes. Brian Urlacher and Lovie Smith are gone and Marc Trestman takes over as head coach. He has an upgraded offensive line with Jermon Bushrod and Kyle Long with a new scheme to help elevate quarterback Jay Cutler. Their roster is more talented than the year before. If they can get some key wins in a tough NFC North division they should challenge for a playoff spot.

Prediction: 10-6 - wild card

Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Eifert
Tyler Eifert | Source

Few teams had as good an off-season as the Bengals. They managed to keep their key free agents while adding a few nice second tier piece, then knocked it out of the park in the draft. They added two offensive weapons in tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard along with a popular defensive end prospect in Margus Hunt. Their roster is young, hungry and riddled with growing playoff experience. If any team is poised for a breakout year it is them. The question is can Andy Dalton take that next step.

Prediction: 12-4 - division title

Cleveland Browns

Ray Horton and Rob Chudzinski
Ray Horton and Rob Chudzinski | Source

There is optimism galore in Cleveland and with good reason. For the first time in years they have a deep and talented coaching staff overseeing a roster full of promising talent. Rob Chudzinski and Ray Horton will have lots to work with this season. Whether they can do it in a short span of time is another issue. Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell are the choices at quarterback and there isn't much stability as the defense shifts schemes. The team will improve, just not enough this year.

Prediction: 7-9 - miss the playoffs

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo
Tony Romo | Source

Aside from handing out a fat new contract to Tony Romo, the Cowboys didn't make a bunch a huge splashes. If anything experts believe they had a lackluster off-season in terms of upgrading their roster. It is hoped a scheme change on defense and better protection for Romo on offense is enough to improve on the back-to-back 8-8 seasons they've posted two years running. Considering the division and the conference they have to go through, not to mention the growing doubt of the quarterback, it is hard seeing this team doing anything different.

Prediction: 8-8 - miss the playoffs

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning | Source

Everything has set up perfectly. Peyton Manning is in his second year of the Broncos system. His neck should be fully healed and arm back up to strength. He has new weapons on offense in Wes Welker and Monte Ball and what many hope is a solidified defense. Toss in a cupcake schedule and there is really nothing standing between Denver and the playoffs besides injuries and bad luck.

Prediction: 14-2 - home field advantage

Detroit Lions

Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush | Source

Another team that quietly had a productive off-season. They added needed help at running back with Reggie Bush and settled down a bad secondary with Glover Quin at safety and Darius Slay at corner. With Ezekiel Ansah joining a stout defensive front the Lions defense should be much better. Bush will take pressure off Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but questions linger about their tackle spots after losing Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus. That may determine how they do this season.

Prediction: 8-8 - miss the playoffs

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers | Source

Ted Thompson did what he had to do in the draft. He got Aaron Rodgers some badly needed help at running back with Eddie Lacy and gave his run defense a boost with Datone Jones. Green Bay remains the class of the NFC North and should continue to compete for the high playoff spots this season barring a key injury. Another thing to watch is how Rodgers adapts to not throwing the ball so much like he has the past few seasons.

Prediction: 12-4 - first round bye

Houston Texans

Brian Cushing
Brian Cushing | Source

If ever it was the year for a team, this is it for Houston. They get key guys back from injury including vital inside linebacker and leader Brian Cushing. Their running game will be back to full strength with Arian Foster and Ben Tate while quarterback Matt Schaub will have a new weapon to throw to in DeAndre Hopkins across from Andre Johnson. Their excuses for exits in the divisional round are all but gone. The Texans are good enough to reach a Super Bowl this year. A good start and better finish can further that mission.

Prediction: 13-3 - first round bye

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck | Source

Andrew Luck lived up to his billing as a rookie last season. The Colts surprised a lot of people with how well they played, especially without Chuck Pagano. Still, losing Bruce Arians is tough. Pep Hamilton should keep Luck on track but it comes down to how much the team has improved roster-wise. They added some nice pieces in free agency like Gosder Cherilus and LaRon Landry; follow by Bjoern Werner, Hugh Thorton and Khaled Holmes in the draft. This team should look much better at the line of scrimmage. Whether it's enough to keep them competitive is hard to gauge.

Prediction: 9-7 - miss the playoffs

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gus Bradley
Gus Bradley | Source

Changes were needed with this team and change is what they got. Gus Bradley brings an experienced, hard nosed, defensive mind set to this team with him from Seattle. They put together a nice off-season by adding Luke Joeckel to the offensive line and some help in the secondary with Jonathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz. That said, their quarterback problems remain unresolved. Whether it's Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne they don't have many great prospects for a playoff push this year. They should improve but have a ways to go before they're ready to turn the corner.

Prediction: 4-12 - miss the playoffs

Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid and Alex Smith
Andy Reid and Alex Smith | Source

No team improved the more than Kansas City in all facets. Andy Reid takes over as head coach. Alex Smith is the new quarterback. Dwayne Bowe and Branden Albert are back from free agency and Eric Fisher should help solidify the offensive line. Their roster is talented and with better coaching have the great chance for a big leap forward. How big will depend on how quickly Smith and the offense gels. If Reid gets them motivated quickly, they could surprise a lot of people.

Prediction: 10-6 - wild card

Miami Dolphins

Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace | Source

Another team that went crazy in the off-season to improve their roster. Ryan Tannehill has new weapons in Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller. The defense got younger and arguably better at linebacker with Danelle Ellerbe and Dion Jordan. Coupled with some nice moves in the secondary and they seem poised to be the first team to challenge for the AFC East title in a long time. The burden for that falls on head coach Joe Philbin who will be tested to get this talented roster playing good football.

Prediction: 8-8 - miss the playoffs

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota first round picks
Minnesota first round picks | Source

Quite frankly this team will need more than Adrian Peterson running for over 2,000 yards if they want to get back to the playoffs two years in a row. They had a nice off-season by adding Greg Jennings in free agency and three first round picks in the draft. The key to all this happening is quarterback Christian Ponder. Minnesota got a look at life without him in the playoffs but must seriously question how big his impact would be without Peterson. Hopefully they won't have to. They have what it takes to repeat their run from a year ago. Big contributions from the rookies will lend a huge hand to that.

Prediction: 7-9 - miss the playoffs

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady | Source

Another year, another talented roster ready for a run. Yet there are some chinks in the armor worth worrying about. Tom Brady turns 36 in August. He lost Wes Welker in free agency and may not have the same Rob Gronkowski who will undergo his second off-season surgery. Coupled with continued questions about their defense and it's business as usual for head coach Bill Belichick.

Prediction: 12-4 - division title

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees and Sean Payton
Drew Brees and Sean Payton | Source

To think this team went 7-9 without their head coach and general manager is a testament to how good they but mostly Drew Brees is. Now Sean Payton is back and the Saints got things started with a solid addition of new talents like Keenan Lewis and Kenny Vaccaro. If their defense gets straightened out by Rob Ryan there is no reason to think they won't get back to competing for the NFC South title and a chance at a another Lombardi trophy.

Prediction: 12-4 - division title

New York Giants

Eli Manning
Eli Manning | Source

Injuries and erratic play really hurt New York last season. Contract squabbles threaten to do the same this year. However, they still have Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin along with a constant flow of talented pieces arriving on defense. Their offensive and defensive lines will improve and if Manning plays like he can then the Giants should compete for the division.

Prediction: 10-6 - division title

New York Jets

Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan | Source

Is it possible to do exactly the wrong thing and still come out okay? No. The Jets didn't need to overload on defense to compensate for life without Darrelle Revis. They already had done that during the season. They should've done everything possible to beef up the offense. Instead they drafted two defenders in the first round and created a quarterback controversy by drafting Geno Smith that will surely divide the team. Rex Ryan needed to do more than that to save his job.

Prediction: 3-13 - miss the playoffs

Oakland Raiders

Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie
Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie | Source

GM Reggie McKenzie inherited a mess when he took over and it's going to take time to fix. He made some nice long-term moves for his defense in the draft and added some talent and youth to the quarterback spot with Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson. There isn't much to expect from them as far as the playoffs are concerned but their roster has gotten better.

Prediction: 5-11 - miss the playoffs

Philadelphia Eagles

Chip Kelly
Chip Kelly | Source

The Chip Kelly show is in town and everybody is fixing to get a front row seat for the action. Philadelphia figures to boast a high tempo offense and a revamped 3-4 defense that should offer excitement if anything else. There are still questions about the quarterback spot with Michael Vick and Matt Barkley leading a logjam of names that could start. Kelly will have to sift through that to find the best man for the job while adjusting his offense to attack better NFL defenses.

Prediction: 6-10 - miss the playoffs

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger | Source

Age took a big bite into the Steelers last year and they've struggled to compensate since then. They added some needed help on defense with Jarvis Jones and Ben Roethlisberger should get better protection as he works his way into the second year under coordinator Todd Haley. If he stays upright and the running game improves then Pittsburgh should make a quick recovery from their off year.

Prediction: 10-6 - wild card

St. Louis Rams

Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey
Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey | Source

Good drafting has put this team in position to make a leap forward in 2013. They proved last year they can compete within the tough NFC West and added some nice playmakers on offense in Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and Stedman Bailey. The key is Jeff Fisher straightening out the running game and getting the most out of quarterback Sam Bradford who needs to start playing like the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be.

Prediction: 9-7 - miss the playoffs

San Diego Chargers

Philip Rivers sacked
Philip Rivers sacked | Source

The Bolts went all out to save Philip Rivers and his Pro Bowl game by hiring Mike McCoy as the new head coach. They quickly beefed up the offensive line with D.J. Fluker and added leadership on defense with Manti Te'o. Never mind the nice new weapon for Rivers in Keenan Allen. Still, they are in an improving division and a conference filled with teams vying for the wild card spots. They will need a lot of breaks to get back into the tournament.

Prediction: 8-8 - miss the playoffs

San Francisco 49ers

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick | Source

What can one say? They went to the Super Bowl last year and have arguably the best roster in the game including a hot young quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has his team believing they can win and that has shown in their steady improvement from year to year. Don't expect anything different after another solid draft and more playoff experience.

Prediction: 13-3 - home field advantage

Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson | Source

Another team that has built an outstanding young roster around a young quarterback. Russell Wilson shocked the world when he led his team to the playoffs last year and his game seems to only be getting better. Seattle added Percy Harvin at receiver and some other nice pieces their defense. They did lose Gus Bradley to Jacksonville but that should not deviated them from the quest to unseat San Francisco as kings in the NFC West. Health will be their biggest concern.

Prediction: 12-4 - wild card

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Darrelle Revis
Darrelle Revis | Source

This team is a large conundrum. On paper the talent is clearly there. Head coach Greg Schiano built the best run defense in the league and they have loads of playmakers on offense like Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin. By adding Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldsont hey shore up their pass defense so one would think they are poised for a breakout. That will depend on Josh Freeman and how he responds to the challenge issues by Schiano to play smarter this season.

Prediction: 8-8 - miss the playoffs

Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker
Jake Locker | Source

The real improvement of this team was up front. Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack form a guard tandem with huge potential on the offensive line, opening possibilities for Jake Locker and Chris Johnson. Tennessee also got some help on defense which was critical and have enough pass targets to cause problems. The issue ahead is how much Locker can do with these improvements and whether head coach Mike Munchak is the man to help him do it.

Prediction: 4-12 - miss the playoffs

Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III | Source

They won the division last year and look good to compete for it again. However, there are lingering worries about the health of Robert Griffin III. He plans to return from a torn ACL by week 1, which is difficult to accomplish. Whether he does or not it is up to the Redskins coaches and teammates to bring their game up and help him. If they can't then Washington might regress this years as they work to continue building their roster.

Prediction: 7-9 - miss the playoffs

Which 8-8 team predicted has the best chance to break through for a playoff spot?

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    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      He has a point. Abbot proved it's about preparation, adjustment and talent. Not what kind of body you have.

    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I'll bet. I personally think they'll do better than 8-8. Probably 10-6 again or 11-5. They're still a few good drafts away from seriously contending but Emery has them on the right track.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Peter King: Has there ever been a successful one armed quacrerbatk in the NFL? It only takes one arm to throw the ball, so does having both arms really matter? I wonder about a guy like Jim Abbott, he was such a bright man and gifted athlete, if he played football I'd say it's a strong 60% chance that he could have been successful, and I mean successful in terms of success, not just wins and losses.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      If I say 'Ninja' you know who it is.I visited your site YESTERDAY and it was cat and geese pirctues, today, sports blog. I would say that's an upgrade. I'm totally oblivious of the NFL starting and am still trying to get the taste out of my mouth from the Bears 10-12 loss to the Lions that we paid $20 to park 5 blocks away from two seasons ago. It's put me off professional sports ever since. I've got Michigan State here and they lose enough to keep me in my childhood roots of liking the Bears, Cubs, and Tigers, but they win enough that it's not too far between cool sweet doses of victory. It's like drinking the right amount, I've got no tolerance built up for a team I like winning, not like some Braves or Yankees fan that call the season a waste if they don't make the playoffs. They have to make the playoffs to get buzzed. If the Bears win 8 games this year, it will be like I partied non-stop for 17 weeks. When they were 13-3, I looked liked I was on heroinspeedacidcocaineahol and pixie sticks.


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