The 2014 NFL season is in full swing and it has been a pretty exciting ride so far. We’ve seen great teams play worse than we expected, and historically bad teams really step up to the plate. But, at some point all fans really care about is if their team has a chance to make the playoffs…even if that team is what one might lovingly call an “underdog.”
We never fail to highlight the teams that are kicking butt and taking names, but here we decided to take a look at 5 longshot teams that have a chance at making it past the regular season for once. Those five teams are the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.
The Texans are 3-3 and have a decent schedule ahead, especially considering they are facing the Jaguars and Titans four times. JJ Watt has been positively killing it and their running game seems to be pretty steady.
In 2012 they had a ridiculously successful season, and in 2013 were even looking towards a Super Bowl victory. But, injuries and terrible play made that dream vanish in a blink of an eye. Once again, this year, an injury has put the team in jeopardy, this time to their first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
If Clowney can come back soon, JJ Watt can stay on top of his game, Fitzpatrick can handle not turning the ball over, and the running game has a consistent positive impact, the Texans could just hold on long enough to make it to the playoffs.
The Bills are just coming off a defeat from the Detroit Lions, a team that has looked pretty high-powered and capable so far this season. The Bills seem desperate in a very good way, and they’ve seemed that way for years now, so the fans are hoping that all that scrappy hustling is about to pay off.
And, while being tied for first in the division with the Patriots is never comforting, they do have some things to look forward to. Their defense has been pretty solid, and as long as they continue this way, they’ll have a chance. A lot of their success is in Kyle Orton’s hands, so, Bills fans, keep your fingers crossed that Orton stays in good shape and keeps his head in the game.
Well, if you didn’t see that comeback against the Titans on October 5, then it’s worth taking to the web to check out the most jaw-dropping highlights. The comeback in the Browns’ 29-28 victory over the Titans was the clear result of 27 unanswered points – an NFL record for the biggest comeback on the road ever.
There are certain points during the season when fans know whether or not their team has what it takes. It’s pretty safe to say that this past victory over the Titans made it clear to Browns’ fans that the team has a serious playoff shot this year.
Now what needs to happen to really clinch the deal is better defensive play and consistent results from Brian Hoyer.
The Vikings’ next opponent is the Detroit Lions, who have looked pretty good this year, already defeating the Viking’s NFC rival, Green Bay Packers. Now, the Vikings haven’t had the greatest start so far – they’re toward the bottom of the league in passing and the low teens in rushing yards allowed. But with Teddy Bridgewater as their quarterback, they have looked like a different team.
In order to start moving forward in the right direction this season, Bridgewater will have to step up to the plate, and the rush and pass defense will as well, starting with the strong offense of the Lions. And with Peterson possibly out for the season, their running backs Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon will have to give, at the very least, satisfactory performances.
The Lions have started off very well, proving that this should be a postseason season. Matt Stafford has done a solid job and Calvin Johnson has not disappointed. And although Suh has drawn a lot of attention to himself in regards to leaving the Lions, we all know that he is going to play hard to secure a good spot somewhere else. Furthermore, C.J Mosley, George Johnson, and a revitalized Jason Jones should be a massive aid to Suh’s monstrous efforts.
Another huge plus for the lions is that when they are winning Ford Field actually plays to their advantage. So, the loudness of their fans will be apparent this year and should give them the added boost of confidence they need to make it to the end.
It’s still early in the season, and based on the history of these 5 teams, it’s quite possible that one, if not more, will fall out of the race for the playoffs quickly. But, on paper all of these underdogs have a good shot and their fans know it.
Keep your eyes peeled every week, and if you’re rooting for one of these teams, say your prayers beause it could be a bumpy road to the playoffs!