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3 NFL Teams to Watch in 2012 - Fan's Take

Three Teams to Keep an Eye on that Aren't on Most Fans' List of Contenders

Yahoo Contributor Network

There are certain NFL teams that make the headlines regardless of how well they play. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. If they are good, everyone is talking about how good they are, if they are bad, chatter abounds on their troubles, and even if they are mediocre, fans lament their fall from greatness.

Then there are other teams, who rarely get mentioned outside of the city from which they hail. Their fans didn't jump on a bandwagon because they have a history of achievement, but rather because they support their hometown team. Often these teams struggle - like minnows in a league of sharks - but every once in a while they prevail. Here are three such teams you many not typically pay much attention to that could very well make waves in 2012:

Cincinnati Bengals - Though the Bengals have been the punch line of countless jokes for years on end, it seems things may finally be turning around in Cincinnati. The Bengals had a good year in 2011 with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and star wide receiver AJ Green. Owner Mike Brown finally seems to be leaving coaching to the coaches, and head coach Marvin Lewis, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer may very well be up to the challenge of taking this team farther than ever before.

Houston Texans - There hasn't been a good NFL team in Houston since days gone by when the Oilers were still in town, but it appears that is no longer the case. Much like the Bengals' Dalton, Houston's young quarterback TJ Yates seems poised beyond his years. Arian Foster, though undrafted to the surprise of many University of Tennessee fans, has proven himself as the leading running back for the Texans. The Houston Texans lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens in 2011 and will be looking to capitalize on their post season dreams in 2012.

Detroit Lions - Much like the Bengals and the Texans, the Detroit Lions have never won a Super Bowl and would love nothing more to change that. The Lions have power in the pocket with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who finished the 2011 season with 41 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 97.2. Paired with wide receiver Calvin Johnson, one of the best in the NFL who recently signed to a seven year contract extension, these two are a force to be reckoned with against any team.

nfl.com, players statistics

Anwar S. Richardson, "Five Reasons Detroit Lions Could Win Super Bowl XLVII," mlive.com

Lisa Stewart is a married mother of two living in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Lisa is a die-hard Bengals fan and has faith the team's best days are ahead. Lisa looks forward to some day seeing the Bengals finally win it all.

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