It seems that every season there is one or two teams that get into the playoffs that didn’t make it the year before, or hadn’t been in a while. Last season the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers all made that list.
Here are some candidates for the 2015 NFL playoff darkhorse teams.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs finished last season just a game out of the Wild Card game. With one of the top backs, leading the history of the NFL in yards-per-game in Jamaal Charles, and the addition of Jeremy Maclin, they have a chance to win a second Wild Card berth in three years. The AFC Wild Card may come down to the last week with them, just like last season.
I’ve talked about Rex Ryan and the Bills before. With that already ferocious defense, they really need some offensive constancy. If they can run the ball as much and as well as they hope, a wild card berth may be down the line.
The Dolphins were another team just outside the playoff hunt last season and led by a tough defense. Tannehill has more weapons than last season and he could take another big step forward in 2015. They’re in a crowded division with the Patriots and the Bills but should be in the thick of things coming down the stretch.
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans comes into 2015 with a (hopefully) revamped defense and scheme. On the other side Brandon Cooks becomes the unquestioned No. 1 option for Brees. C.J. Spiller, an offseason addition, will likely play a big role out of the backfield. We’ll see how they replace Jimmy Graham but they will be able to compete in the NFC South.
The last team on this list the Falcons, also has a chance to compete in the NFC South with new head coach Dan Quinn. He’ll attempt to turn around a defense that’s been horrible the last couple of years. Plus, they still have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.