We all know that the Patriots, Steelers, Packers, etc.  will be competing for a championship this coming NFL season, but which teams will make that leap from being a good team to being a contender?  First, we need to establish what exactly we’re looking for. A team that will make the leap will most likely have young talent that will have improved from last year. They also will likely have added talent, either through free agency or the draft. Finally, they will most likely have a record that has steadily improved over the last couple seasons.  That being said, here are the teams that best fit this criteria.

Oakland Raiders

Over the last 3 seasons, the Raiders have jumped from a 3-13 record up to a 12-4 record last year. Frankly, they should’ve advanced last year, but they were dealt a huge blow when Derek Carr went down a couple weeks before the playoffs started. Look for this year’s Raider squad to put up an equally good record, with a much deeper playoff run.

On top of bringing back the core of Carr, Cooper, and Mack, the Raiders have also signed Marshawn Lynch to take over HB duties. While Latavius Murray wasn’t a bad running back, the power that Lynch adds will be a welcome addition.

Record Prediction: 12-4 – AFC West Division Winners

Tennessee Titans

Just 3 seasons ago, the Titans put up an abysmal 2-14 record. This past season, Tennessee climbed to a 9-7 finish. During the offseason, the Titans got some help for the already solid defense, but the big additions were on offense. On draft night, the Titans took Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. Both of these stud wide receivers have a shot at becoming stars. More importantly though, Mariota now has weapons to target on offense outside of Delanie Walker.  

The Titans already have a brilliant running back core in Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, so their fate now rests on the capable shoulders of Marcus Mariota. If he can perform at a high level, this Titans squad will be very tough to beat.

Record Prediction: 11-5 – AFC South Division Winners

Check out the last dark horse contender on the next page!