5 NFL teams that are going to surprise as contenders

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – DECEMBER 22: Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins looks on during fourth quarter action against the Cincinnati Bengals during an NFL game on December 22, 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bengals 38-35 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Every NFL season, a few teams surprise as contenders after struggling the year prior. Look for these five outfits to be in the January conversation.

5. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are the first of our four AFC teams on this list.

Miami struggled to start last season after trading away star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and left tackle Laremy Tunsil. The tank appeared to be on for the Dolphins, who ended up finishing strong with five wins over their last nine contests, including a Week 17 victory over the New England Patriots in Foxborough.

With second-year coach Brian Flores looking like a great hire, the Dolphins crushed free agency. They added cornerback Byron Jones and edge rushers Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah, along with guard Ereck Flowers.

Going into the draft, Miami has a league-high 14 picks including three in the first round. The Dolphins are likely to take a quarterback at some juncture, whether it be Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert or Jordan Love. If they nail that choice, the franchise will have its first true answer at the game’s most important position since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 campaign.

Considering Tom Brady is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the AFC East is wide open.

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