Every season several teams that missed the postseason the year before bounce back to make the playoffs. Heading into the 2012 NFL season, here are the five most likely to do so:
5. Seattle Seahawks » The best rookie quarterback this preseason has not been Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. After several impressive performances, rookie Russell Wilson seems to have won the starting job. In a weak NFC West, a strong running game and solid defense could help propel a rookie-led Seahawks team to the postseason.
4. Tennessee Titans » Jake Locker wrestled the starting quarterback job away from veteran Matt Hasselbeck. The Titans just missed the postseason last year, going 9-7 and losing the tiebreaker to the Bengals. An improvement from running back Chris Johnson, who had career lows in rushing yards, yards per carry and touchdowns, could put the Titans over the edge.
3. San Diego Chargers » After making the postseason for four straight seasons, the Chargers have missed out the last two years. Philip Rivers is coming off one of his worst seasons, with a career-high 20 interceptions and his lowest passer rating (88.7) since 2007. The Chargers' defense also must improve after a year in which it allowed 23.6 points a game.
2. Chicago Bears » Jay Culter and Brandon Marshall have reunited, but the health of the Bears' stars is the big question. Before Cutler and running back Matt Forte were injured in 2011, Chicago was 7-3. But a 1-5 finish to the season crippled any playoff hopes. The Bears also will have to overcome a tough division featuring the Packers and Lions.
1. Philadelphia Eagles » Last year they talked about the dream team. This year it's about having a dynasty. There's no denying the Eagles' talent. But Michael Vick needs to stay healthy. He left two preseason games with injures and has missed seven games over the past two seasons. In 2011, when Philadelphia went 8-8, the Eagles were 1-2 without Vick.
- Jeffrey Tomik