5. Detroit Lions
After free agency and the NFL Draft, it is clear the Lions saw their offensive line and secondary as their two biggest weaknesses. They addressed both of these needs, continuing to build a roster around Matthew Stafford. After an extremely poor 2019 season culminating in a 3-12-1 record, the Lions have done what they need to get better.
Specifically, the additions of Jeff Okudah, Desmond Trufant, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and D’Andre Swift should allow this team to improve from 3 wins. Stafford is a talented quarterback who has never had a truly good team around him, but after earning high draft picks, they are getting there.
4. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins had a very active offseason, adding key pieces all over. Although they were obviously a bad team last year, after three first-round picks and an effective free agency period, they seem to be primed for success in the coming seasons. We may see pure, young talent to carry them to a few more wins than expected this year.
Starting their overhaul in free agency, Miami picked up Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Jordan Howard, and Shaq Lawson to name a few. These players should immediately have large roles and are vast improvements to those on the team’s 2019 roster, but they weren’t finished. The NFL Draft saw them pick up Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, and Raekwon Davis, among others to establish a young core for this team. The Dolphins are primed for a quick turnaround.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Last year was a disaster for Bengals fans as the team went 2-14 and seemingly everything went wrong. But perhaps it wasn’t as bad as it seems, as the team earned the top pick in every round for their incompetence. The Bengals lost 8 games by one possession last year and dealt with a load of injuries while still managing to improve over the offseason.
Getting Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, and a ton of defensive help was just what the Bengals needed. They completely revamped their defensive backfield and signed one of the best nose tackles in the league in D.J. Reader. The offensive line improved with stability last season, and a year of experience under the young coaching staff’s belts should mean a quick turnaround into a playoff-caliber team should not take more than a couple of seasons.
2. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals didn’t make too many roster changes after their 5-10-1 season, but they didn’t necessarily need to. This team is ready to win now. They have a great young quarterback to build around in Kyler Murray and are surrounding him with weapons like Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins.
Arizona had an efficient draft, getting top-end talent like Isaiah Simmons and Josh Jones to further bolster this roster. While their free agency was nothing to write home about, you have to like the direction that this team is headed.
1. Denver Broncos
The Broncos weren’t necessarily bad last year, but I don’t believe that they are getting enough hype. This team has the talent for a deep playoff run. After a 7-9 season, the Broncos ensured that they got better and didn’t let this opportunity pass them by.
Through free agency, they added a few pieces in Melvin Gordon and Graham Glasgow. They also traded for A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey. Even before the draft, this team already looked much better than it did last season. But they weren’t done, as they created a fierce passing attack by adding receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the top 2 rounds. With Drew Lock establishing himself as a quality passer, this is definitely a team to watch out for in the 2020 season.