Five Most Pleasantly Surprising NFL Teams in 2016

Photo Credit: Lester’s Legends (featured image), ESPN (team logos)

Honorable Mentions:
i-18 New York Giants
  • 2016 Season Record: 9-4
  • 2015 Season Record: 6-10
i-3 Miami Dolphins
  • 2016 Season Record: 8-5
  • 2015 Season Record: 6-10

 

Top 5
5. i-15 Oakland Raiders
  • 2016 Season Record: 10-3
  • 2015 Season Record: 7-9
  • Analysis: Coming off of a 2015 season during which they finished without a winning record for the 13th consecutive season, the Raiders were a team that many people had high hopes for this season, but not many people thought that they would be this good. They clinched their first winning record since the 2002 season and are on their way to their first playoff berth since the 2002 season, making them one of the NFL’s most pleasant surprises this season.
4. i-26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 2016 Season Record: 8-5
  • 2015 Season Record: 6-10
  • Analysis: Coming off of a 2015 season during which the Buccaneers finished about where people expected they would with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston behind center, they were not supposed to be anything special this season. However, they are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are in a good position to make it into the postseason and potentially win their first NFC South division championship since the 2007 season, making them a very pleasantly surprising NFL team this season.
3. i-19 Dallas Cowboys
  • 2016 Season Record: 11-2
  • 2015 Season Record: 4-12
  • Analysis: Coming off of a 2015 season during which they struggled mightily to play well without quarterback Tony Romo behind center, the Cowboys entered the 2016 season without quarterback Tony Romo behind center and no one expected much. However, led by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys control their own destiny to clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs this season, which is why they are one of the most pleasant surprises in the NFL this season.
2. i-11 Tennessee Titans
  • 2016 Season Record: 7-6
  • 2015 Season Record: 3-13
  • Analysis: Coming off of a 2015 season during which they shared the worst record in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, the Titans had a solid offseason and built a team that a lot of people thought would make some strides from being towards the bottom of the AFC. However, not many people expected them to be contenders to win the AFC South division and clinch a berth in the postseason, which they may very well do, making them one of the most pleasantly surprising teams in the NFL this season.
1. i-22 Detroit Lions
  • 2016 Season Record: 9-4
  • 2015 Season Record: 7-9
  • Analysis: Coming off of a 2015 season during which they underachieved and were unable to look like their 2014 team which made it into the postseason, the Lions lost future Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson to retirement and this season looked hopeless. However, the Lions currently sit atop the NFC North division and in control of their own destiny for a 1st-round bye in the postseason, making them one of the biggest pleasant surprises in the NFL this season.

 

-Asher Fair

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