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Dan Levy
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Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

Not All Usual Suspects

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This is the best time of year in the NFL... if your team stinks. Everyone is tied for the lead in their division. First place is yours, Detroit! The optimism that comes with the NFL Draft and free agency makes teams think they can go from worst to first. And frankly, they can. It's not that hard to rebuild an NFL team into a playoff contender.

Just think about last season -- the NFC title game was hosted (HOSTED) by a team with a 9-7 record. Two teams with eight wins got into the playoffs. It's not hard to go from the cellar to hosting a playoff game.

That said, there are some teams who should be good next year based on last year's result and the moves they've made this season.

In no order...

The Pittsburgh Steelers - You have to include the Steelers in any conversation when talking about the best teams in the NFL. They won the Super Bowl last season, and they'll probably end up better this year than last. Their defense is one of the best in the entire league. And no matter what I say about Ben Roethlisberger, the guy has proven he can win. A lot. Expect them to stick around.

The Philadelphia Eagles - The strange thing about the Eagles is that they came out of Draft weekend and everyone in the town is happy. How is that possible? In Philadelphia? Everyone seems happy with what the Eagles did. They drafted a skill position player in the first round. They picked a top five running back with their next selection. They added their left tackle of the future for a first round pick. They added a starting cornerback via trade on the second day for two middle round picks.

The Eagles did everything right. And people are happy. Weird. After how the off-season started with the Birds getting rid of Brian Dawkins, we thought this season would start bad and get worse for them. Remember, before they made a run to the NFC title game, they were very close to missing the playoffs, which could have led to some serious restructuring.

Now, with some savvy moves, the Eagles look like a dangerous team.

The New York Giants - The Eagles are going to be better, but they may not even be the best team in their division next season. The Giants were a great football team before their season unraveled quicker than the elastic waistband of a pair of loose sweatpants. This year they'll be focused to get back to the Super Bowl, and they should be just as talented. The loss of Plaxico Burress and Derrick Ward will hurt, but getting a good receiver in the first round will help a little and having a potent running game still in tow will mean less pressure on Eli Manning.

The Miami Dolphins - Sure everyone is talking about the Jets' draft class. And everyone assumes the Patriots will be back to their old selves once Tom Brady takes a snap, but don't sleep on the reigning AFC Division champions. The team is good and we all know how Bill Parcells likes to shop for groceries. I'm sure he found a bargain or two in this year's produce section draft.

The last team to pick is hard. There will be some teams that come out of nowhere next year. It'd be cheap to pick a team like the Vikings (note, I had picked the Vikings but changed my mind for reasons I can't disclose... or fathom). It can't be the Patriots, because everyone is picking them. The Colts? Meh. Chargers? I'm not sold on that team. I want to pick the Titans because they signed Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt. But the loss of Albert Haynesworth makes that team not as good as last season. The Cardinals did go to the Super Bowl last year and have the best receiver in the game in Larry Fitzgerald. But why not close my eyes, throw a dart and see where it lands...

The San Francisco 49ers - Why not? They have a tough-nosed new head coach. They have a dynamic wide receiving corps. If healthy, they have a very solid running game. And they have a defense that's led by one of the top young linebackers in the league in Patrick Willis. Oh, and there's talk that they are going back to their old uniforms from the 80's. How can they lose with that mojo?

By Dan Levy  |  April 29, 2009; 11:33 AM ET  | Category:  Dan Levy , New York Giants , Philadelphia Eagles , Pittsburgh Steelers , San Francisco 49ers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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