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Teams to Watch in 2011

It's entirely too early to begin predicting teams to make the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. That's why this list is all about the teams that are in position to make runs into the playoffs. By that I mean, they've set themselves up to use free agency to further develop their respective teams. I'm not saying these teams WILL use free agency the way they should. I'm just saying with the help of free agency they COULD be in a great spot as the season starts. As with every rankings list, this is completely useless, but it could be a lot of fun too.

AFC:

  1. New York Jets
  2. San Diego Chargers
  3. Houston Texans

Let me explain. The Jets are developing offensively, and they already have a staunch defense. The Chargers had one of the best teams in the league last season, and they're already set to make a run in 2011. The Texans have a solid offense, and Wade Phillips could turn that defense around. If he can, the Texans could be the surprise story of 2011.

NFC:

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  2. New York Giants
  3. Detroit Lions

Explanation time. The Buccaneers have done a great job rebuilding their roster, and they're in position to get a wildcard playoff birth. I don't see them winning that division just yet though. The Giants have a solid core of players, and they just need a few pieces to get back on track. The Lions have been quietly developing their young players, and their defensive line looks like a bunch of monsters.

Just a note: I didn't pick the conventional picks on purpose. The Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Ravens, Packers, Bears, Saints, and Falcons (as well as any I missed) are still contenders.