We still have the draft to go, but there is nothing more enjoyable than re-setting our perception of the league over the last month, especially after one of the best free agency periods in league history. What is the best way to do so? According to NFL Media research, at least four new teams have made the playoffs every year since the NFL adopted the 12-team format back in 1990.
While a solid draft pick can certainly help, which teams are already primed to make that leap in 2015? These are the five teams that we see in the postseason after missing the playoffs in 2014.
It's ridiculously early, but we've got you covered:
1. New Orleans Saints: A stronger offensive line and a stronger running game mixed with another year of learning under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. This team's mediocrity a year ago still feels so much like a fluke, and after some simple adjustments, the Saints are a prime candidate to reach the postseason again. Unless the Panthers make some serious strides, or a top quarterback steals the show in Tampa Bay, Drew Brees and Co. have us believing that a refreshed roster can make another run.
2. Buffalo Bills: While the Patriots are still the odds-on favorites to take the division, look for Rex Ryan's team to come out with that first-year Ryan energy and take down a wild-card spot. If nothing else, the additions of LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin should ease the burden on whichever quarterback ends up winning the battle. A nine-win team got markedly better from the year before and has a coach who can better utilize the tools at hand on defense. What's not to like?
3. Philadelphia Eagles: If only because we cannot think of the pandemonium on hand if this new-look Chip Kelly team tanks. But in all seriousness, the coach has two backs (DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews) who better fit the power spread, and he might very well be primed to grab a quarterback who knows exactly how to run it. Kelly has done wonders with Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles, so it's not like he's stuck with former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford. On top of all this, Kelly is wasting no time making some serious upgrades to his secondary. This is a better team all around.
4. Houston Texans: Let's assume -- and this is hardly generous -- Jadeveon Clowney can contribute 300 quality snaps next season coming off a major knee surgery. That would be double the amount he contributed in his rookie season. How dominant would that front be? Add in Bill O'Brien with a quarterback who is comfortable in his system and a line that can still control the ground game, and we've got a serious contender out of the AFC South.
5. Atlanta Falcons: What if the Lions take a step back next season and leave a playoff spot out there for the taking? Do the Panthers inspire much confidence at the moment? Are the Vikings ready to make a serious climb in their division? Do we think that the Giants can finally rebound? If the answer to all of these questions is no, than why can't a team with a phenomenal wide receiver and a great quarterback get back into consideration and finish right behind the Saints in the South? Dan Quinn brings a new flavor to a defense in desperate need of some help and Matt Ryan finally gets his rebound season.