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8 NFL Teams That Could Improve in 2017

NFL Teams That Could Improve in the 2017 Season

By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Any number of things can occur to take a bad or mediocre team and make them a good team. Through trades, free agency, and the draft, players can be acquired and make a world of difference. Or maybe a coaching change will put wind in the sails of a team struggling to find its way. Sometimes, a team will just have things fall into place and become an improved NFL team. They spent the past few years building up their resources and are due to see the fruits of their labor materialize. Other times, it's just a massive combination of different factors where a team more or less just has the stars line up the right way. There are many candidates to become an improved team in 2017. Here are 8 NFL teams that could surprise in 2017-18. Take a look!

Miami Dolphins: A lot of people wrote the Dolphins off last year, especially when new head coach Adam Gase got off to a 1-4 start. But at the end of the day, the 'Fins ended up 10-6 and in the playoffs. And that was with QB Ryan Tannehill going down for the season. At one point, they won 9 of ten games and a strong finish to the season shows Gase and the Dolphins may have found something and are ready to take it to the next level this season. The offense might fail to get anyone's blood pumping, but additions were made in free agency and the draft on the other side of the ball and if the "D" congeals, Miami could be an AFC darkhorse this season.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have been out of the spotlight for several seasons, but they never quite fell off completely, maintaining a certain level despite a defense that was often run ragged. The offense is still vital and the addition of Adrian Peterson could pay off well. The real optimism, however, stems from the moves made on the other side of the ball. The middle looks strong, with a trio of key player-moves at linebacker. Along with other changes, it's clear the Saints are making a push and one shouldn't be too surprised if the Saints climb back near the top of the NFC South Division this season.

Los Angeles Chargers: San Diego sports fans are so snake-bitten that it almost makes perfect sense that they'd see the Chargers' form soar the minute they leave town. Beyond that are a lot of legitimate causes for optimism. Injuries have been a major issue and less of that should resonate well. With high draft pick WR Mike Williams and guys like Keenan Allen, the Chargers should be able to take to the air with aplomb. And that O-line seemed to get stronger over the offseason through free agency and the draft. And if the injury bug stays in San Diego, we should see the Chargers' defense realize some of its potential this season. Maybe first-year head coach Anthony Lynn can find the right formula in the Chargers' first season back in the City of Angels.

Indianapolis Colts: After three consecutive 11-5 seasons, the Colts have regressed some after two straight 8-8 seasons. A lot has gone wrong for the Colts in the past two seasons, with injuries and inconsistent play plaguing their efforts over the past few seasons. With Andrew Luck healthy and in good form, the offense should be in good shape. But with sweeping changes on the other side of the ball with veteran signings and some potential difference-makers in the draft, we could see a more-complete football team on the field in 2017. After all, their failings over the past two seasons can be largely attributed to an erratic defense. Maybe they can do what the Giants did last season and see the changes really come together on that side of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens: A lot is dependent on how well some highly-regarded rookies perform on defense. But a few big performances on that side of the ball could really help the Ravens get over the hump. Almost all of their losses were close last season and they weren't that far off the mark at 8-8. And that was with catching almost no late-game breaks or relief on the injury front. They also added some nice free agents on defense like Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr, while adding some darkhorses like Danny Woodhead on offense. One could picture some things falling into place better this season.

Chicago Bears: Sure, injuries are often cited as a reason for a team not performing well. It's been a common theme on this list. But if any team could claim legitimate injury issues last season, it was the Bears who saw 19 players on the injury-reserve list. While no huge free-agent acquisitions were made, a lot of key moves were executed and some of them figure to resonate well this season. After a 3-13 season, they got a high draft pick and used it on QB Mitchell Trubisky and we'll see if he becomes the QB of the future. They might be a year or two away, but this could be the season where we see the Bears finally get things pointed in the right direction.

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Cincinnati Bengals: Another team that fell off in 2016 after a prolonged run of postseason appearances, the Bengals could resume their winning ways in 2017. Sweeping injuries in key positions, namely to Andy Dalton and AJ Green, really hurt their chances last season and a better break on the injury front should provide a big boost. A few key free agent signings and the additions of high-profile rookies on offense like John Ross and Joe Mixon could be big. One shouldn't be so quick to relegate the Bengals to the ranks of mediocrity just yet.

Carolina Panthers: Not a lot of stars lined up right for the Panthers last season as defending conference champions. While they might not be able to match their 2015 form, they should get some better breaks and improve on a rough 2016 season. They made some key changes across the board that could nudge them the right way and if any of the rookie playmakers like Christian McCaffrey or Curtis Samuel pan out, Cam Newton should have a bounce-back season and get the Panthers back into the postseason. Bet an NFL game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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