Earlier this week, we asked you which 2012 playoff teams you thought would not make it back to the playoffs in 2013, and the voting was pretty conclusive, at least for two teams: The Redskins (47%) and the Vikings (37%) were the popular favorites not to make it back to the postseason this year. The Packers (5%) and Seahawks (4%) also garnered some votes but paled in comparison to the leading vote-getters.
Which brings us to our question of the day: Which new teams do you expect to make the playoffs for the NFC this season?
At around this time last year, rabblerousr, KD Drummond and I ventured a prediction for which new teams would make the 2012 playoffs. To his eternal horror, rabble picked the Eagles, KD at least came close by picking the Bears and I correctly predicted the Seahawks as new playoff participants. With nothing much to lose on terms of prediction accuracy, the BTB frontpage writers re-visit last year's question and pick the new NFC teams we expect to make the playoffs this year.
As this is a Cowboys blog, I think it's fair to say that most writers and the majority of readers would vote for the Cowboys to make the playoffs this year, so I'm not putting the Cowboys to the vote. That leaves the following nine teams as candidates to make the playoffs in 2013 after not making the playoffs in 2012:
Bears (10-6), Giants (9-7), Rams (7-8-1), Panthers (7-9), Saints (7-9), Buccaneers (7-9), Cardinals (5-11), Lions (4-12) and the Eagles (4-12).
Who's your pick to make it back to the playoffs this season after not making it last year? Leave your thoughts in the comments and place your vote in the attached poll.
Here's who some of us frontpagers think could have a chance at a playoff spot this season.
St. Louis Rams: In Jeff Fisher's second year, the Rams are ready to move back to the playoffs. While both the 49ers and Seahawks are coming off very good years, they will not have the surprise factor they had with Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson last year. This division is going to be a dogfight, but look for Fisher to get the most out of Sam Bradford. The team got Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in the draft to give him more targets, and grabbed Barrett Jones to try to upgrade the offensive line. Coming off a 7-8-1 campaign, this looks to be a program on the upswing, and besides, I would love to see Jim Harbaugh and/or Pete Carroll get a little embarrassed.
New Orleans Saints: The bounty scandal brought turmoil and caused this team to miss the playoffs in 2012, but I believe they are going to rebound strongly in 2013. Sean Payton is back and now he and Drew Brees can get down to business and together they are key to the success of their franchise.
The Saints have a unique offense and a talented quarterback to take them to the postseason. If Mark Ingram gets the ground attack going, then New Orleans is going to reclaim their division. They didn't add more weapons, but they have plenty of firepower already on the roster. The true question is on the other side of the football. They were awful defensively and Rob Ryan has his work cut out for him with installing a new scheme with few pieces to work with. If they improve just a little bit on defense, then they will have a much better record than their 7-9 record from a year ago.
New Orleans Saints: Two words are all it really takes here... Sean Payton... Unlike in Dallas, there are no unsupported questions about who is in charge of the New Orleans Saints... With their fearless leader back in the fold, fresh off a year of rediscovering the game coaching his sons 6th grade team, they could be dangerous. Rob Ryan might have 2 decent safeties (Kenny Vacarro & Malcolm Jenkins) but outside of former Cowboy' back up Victor Butler they don't have much else on defense. But in the end Drew Brees and Sean Payton will find ways to score enough points to win enough NFC south games to get in the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers: I almost hit on this prediction last year, selecting the Chicago Bears. They earned a record good enough to make the dance, but were edged out by the Minnesota AllDays err, Vikings. The Panthers are my pick to shock the world for the 2013 season. Cam Newton has somehow been forgotten amongst the plethora of all of the young quarterbacks, and myself personally I think he's the best. You can miss me with all of that press conference sad face stuff; he has to improve his attitude on the sidelines however and I think he will. I'm especially loving the defense they've finally put together with the drafting of Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short to go along with Charles Johnson and Luke Kuechly. The Panthers are going places, and it starts with a Wild Card berth in 2013. Four wins in a row to end the 2012 season carries over into the new campaign.
Chicago Bears: KD could have had it so easy by simply picking the Bears again. Instead, he had to go pick the Panthers, but so be it. The Bears started the season red hot and looked like a postseason lock after storming to a 7-1 record, but then went 3-5 the rest of the way and were edged out by the Vikings for a playoff spot. The Bears are not without question marks. Cutler doesn't have much to throw to outside of Brandon Marshall, but they've invested in improved protection along the O-line. The defense remains formidable, even though DC Marinelli left for the Cowboys, and they've finally put Brian Urlacher out to pasture (-11.3 PFF grade, worst Bears defender and ranked 44th out of 53 inside linebackers) and fortified their LB corps with a couple of young studs in the draft.