Each year we have the overwhelming favorites (SEE: Giants, Patriots, 49ers) and the team we know will stink (SEE: Colts, Cardinals, Vikings), but what about those teams that are right on the fringe and often come out on top.  Here’s a look at some of these teams and predictions for the 2012-13 season.

First you have to believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick.  If you do, then read on because it’s hard to imagine an offseason going much better. The Bills stocked up on the defensive line and landed the blue-chip free agent prize, adding Mario Williams and Mark Anderson at DE, then drafted CB Stephon Gilmore and OT/G Cordy Glenn. Are there still issues with this team? Of course. That is why they fall under “sneaky” and not “overwhelming” favorites.

PREDICTION: 10-6, Loser in Divisional Playoffs


Is Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall-Matt Forte equal to Troy Aikman-Michael Irvin-Emmitt Smith?  Uh, probably not, but it’s not as far off as you’d think.  The question is whether Chicago’s offensive line will hold up (not coincidentally the strongest part of the Cowboys heyday).
PREDICTION: 10-6, Loser in Divisional Playoffs


I’m not going to be the guy that says Michael Vick deserves a break, but let’s say he stays healthy.  Along with LeSean McCoy and a consistent defense the Eagles should be in every game. By the way, how did the Eagles go seamlessly from one franchise running back (Brian Westbrook) to McCoy so easily.  Apparently all of the Eagles luck goes to the running game.  That is not good news for a QB looking to stay healthy.

PREDICTION: 12-4, Loser in NFC Championship Game


Adding an impact draft to Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews should be enough in the AFC West.  The Chargers’ first three draft picks turned up Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes and Brandon Taylor. The rest of the offseason was spent remaking the roster. Vincent Jackson and Kris Dielman were the big losses. Robert Meachem could have a huge season as Vincent Jackson’s replacement, while Jarrett Johnson was a sensational signing at LB. Don’t forget safety Atari Bigby, he’s the real deal!  With everyone focused on the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, the Chargers will have a chance to fly under the radar and steal a few games before anyone takes notice.

PREDICTION: 9-7, Loser Wildcard Playoff


Just kidding.  I am just amazed with the high-profile move here getting QB Matt Flynn in free agency. However, we’re not even sure if Flynn will beat out Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson for the starting job.  Well done, nothing sneaky here.  The Seahawks are going to stink!

David S. Grant is the author of “Blood: The New Red”, follow David on Twitter @david_s_grant

Cover and embedded images courtesy of Getty Images.