NFL: 5 Teams Who Could Make Some Noise In 2014

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Too early to make predictions? Well, you're right... But it's Sunday morning, and you need something to read other than the long "Honey-Do" list waiting for you...

I cruised through today's NFL news, then popped into a few team sites to see how the NFL is shaping up for 2014. It occurred to me there could be a few teams on the rise? So in reverse order, here are the five teams I think who'll shake the NFL tree this season:

#5 - San Diego Chargers - ( 2014 Season Projection: 11-5) With the 14th pick of the 3rd round in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chargers selected wide receiver Keenan Allen. While some were recently heard to say the wide receiver class of 2014 was great, I think the 2013 class of pass catchers is going to go down in history as one of the best - EVER! Allen may be the best bargain though, and his rookie stats show the injury red flags responsible for his draft day drop were a bit overblown. He made a strong argument for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, with 71 catches for 1046 yards (14.7 YPC) and 8 touchdowns. His addition led to a sharp rise in the standing for the Chargers in the AFC West. What held them back wasn't their offense; it was on the other side of the ball. San Diego's defense played well, but lacked what they needed in the secondary. They selected Jason Verritt - corner back, TCU - with the #25 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and it could very well tip the scales for the Chargers this season.  The AFC West is still the "Denver Mannings" to lose, but San Diego will be right on their heals...

#4 - Baltimore Ravens - (Season Projection: 10-6) Guided by "The OZ" in their front office, the Ravens had yet another solid draft. They went "defense" all the way, selecting linebacker C.J. Mosley (#17), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (#48), and safety Terrence Brooks(#79). Just like THAT, the Ravens made the moves to quell notions of a AFC North being Cinncinatti's to lose. The Ravens offense - led by Joe Flacco - didn't get much in the way of new weapons, and the possibility of Ray Rice's off season mess being a choke hold for their ground game could be an issue. Make no mistake, the Baltimore defense added the pieces to quiet notions they're slipping into rebuilding mode. The Ravens are going to once again sit atop the AFC North by season's end...

#3 - Buffalo Bills - (Season Projection: 10-6) I almost put Tampa Bay here, but Lovie Smith's quarterback ideas swayed me away from their promising defense. The Bills have a roster that oozes talent, and this is the year their 14 year post-season drought ends. Coupled with the addition of wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the recent draft, this offense will move the ball in a big way. The loss of Stevie Johnson in free agency won't be felt, as the Bills can very well boast having one of the best receiver corps in the AFC. They have a strong ground game with Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, and new addition from the Eagles - Bryce Brown. Each year I see a team being capable of unseating the New England Patriots, and their strangle hold on the AFC East. This year, it's going to be the Bills stampeding toward Tom Brady and Bill Belichick...

#2 - St. Louis Rams - (Season Prediction: Gulp!... 10-6) Yes, and in what may very well be a stretch given their grotesquely tough schedule in 2014, I see the Rams as being a team who could literally shake the NFL world if a few things fall their way. At some point, the young players on Jeff Fisher's team will ignite into an experienced team. This Rams roster is filled with not just a hoard of top draft picks, but hungry undrafted talent who'll do anything to live their NFL dream. It won't be a single player holding this team back in 2014, but the astounding number of penalties they've garnered over the last two years will if Fisher doesn't stem the tide: 2012\13 - 253 penalties, for 1987 yards. These penalties have cost the Rams dearly in the win/loss column. The Rams have a chance to turn a very hard corner in 2014 if they can play under control. Seattle and San Francisco are the teams to beat, and Arizona will get some of their attention after a great 2013 season. This St. Louis team has been built to compete in the NFC West, not the NFL in general. It's their time to shine as the Rams coaches find a way to channel their roster youth into a post season challenger...

#1 - Chicago Bears - (Season Prediction: 13-3) Yes, and stop trying to slap me through your computer screens. It doesn't work, and your homeowners insurance company won't buy the "mini-tornado that wrecked my office" excuse. You'll have to trust on this one... The Bears have built a team who'll storm through a revitalized NFC North. Detroit will throw the ball, and so will Green Bay. The one team in the division with a secondary to quell Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford is the Bears, and they'll do so in a big way. Minnesota doesn't have the team to stifle the Bears corp of receivers, remarked by many to be the best in the NFC. The Bears have a re-modeled offensive line, though right guard is still a question mark. Matt Forte is on his way to yet another outstanding year in 2014. I see the Bears as one of the top teams in the NFC this season, and their offensive stats this year will turn more than a few heads. They'll growl their way into the NFC Championship game, but come up short...

So who are the teams you think will shock the NFL world in 2014? Brandon Bate thinks the "RGIII-s" will win it all, but he's one of those "special people", and I'm told his employee parking space is painted blue?

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