Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Nov 26, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) watches the game against the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
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5 NFL teams that could surprise in 2019

Every NFL year, there are a few. A few teams come out of nowhere to reach the playoffs. In some cases, they make a little noise come January.

This season will prove to be no different, and these five teams could fit that mold come autumn.


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5. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are in the odd area of being an underdog. Everyone is talking nationally about the Cleveland Browns. For the first time in decades, they enter the season as favorites in the division. However, Pittsburgh still has a Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, a superstar receiver in JuJu Smith-Schuster and a Super Bowl-winning head coach in Mike Tomlin. There are holes on the defense and there are legitimate questions about who will be the second receiver, but the Steelers are still a playoff threat.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bruce Arians is a hell of a head coach. Arians is also the best bet for Jameis Winston to become the player that general manager Jason Licht believed he was selecting back in 2015 with the No. 1 overall pick. Winston has the talent to become a terrific player, and the offense has playmakers all over the field. It won’t be easy for Tampa Bay to compete in the loaded NFC South, but there’s enough talent to think the Buccaneers are relevant.


Read: Cleveland Expected to be Awarded 2020 Draft


3. San Francisco 49ers

If Jimmy Garoppolo can finally play 16 games in a NFL regular season, the 49ers have a chance to surprise in the NFC West. Look, the Los Angeles Rams are the best team in the division, but San Francisco can legitimately fight for a wild card in what should be a competitive conference. The 49ers also added talent to the roster in the draft, landing edge rusher Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel with their first two picks.

2. Buffalo Bills

This whole thing rests on the right arm of Josh Allen. If Allen can become a more accurate — and a smarter — quarterback in his second year, the Bills could be a wild card team in the AFC. The defense has the pieces to be dominant and the offense finally has some ability with Cole Beasley, John Brown, Mitch Morse, Devin Singletary, Dawson Knox and Frank Gore all helping to fill out the depth chart.

1. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons deserve some serious respect. They were a popular pick to reach the Super Bowl a year ago but early injuries to the defense derailed that dream. Now healthy, Atlanta has a former MVP at quarterback, quality players at almost very offensive skill position and a defense that has vast potential. Of all the teams on this list, the Falcons can make the most substantial noise.

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