5 Dark-Horse NFL Teams That Could Make Super Bowl Runs in 2022
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- AP Photo/Adam Hunger
With Week 10 within the rearview, every NFL team has played at the least nine games. While we’re not quite within the homestretch of the playoff race, several have emerged as Super Bowl favorites.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Recent York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles all have seven wins or more. While they are not yet locks to make the postseason, they’re more likely than to not get spots within the tournament.
Nonetheless, midseason favorites don’t at all times emerge as Super Bowl participants. Just last season, for instance, the Cincinnati Bengals sat at 5-4 after Week 10 but went on to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI.
Here, we’ll examine five dark-horse teams that would sneak into the playoffs and make realistic runs on the championship. Specifically, we’ll be squads that are not leading their respective divisions and
face Super Bowl odds of +2000 or longer, in accordance with DraftKings. We’ll dive into why these teams are dark horses at midseason and why they should not be written off in January.
Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
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- Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Super Bowl Odds: +2800 (bet $100 to win $2,800)
While it feels odd to view the defending AFC champion as a dark horse, the oddsmakers don’t seem particularly high on Cincinnati. The Bengals do trail the 6-3 Baltimore Ravens within the AFC North, they usually’ve struggled with consistency all season.
Cincinnati got off to an 0-2 start, lost the primary head-to-head meeting with Baltimore and got steamrolled by a foul Cleveland Browns team in Week 8. It is also missing star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who’s coping with a hip injury.
Yet Cincinnati is sitting with the identical record it had at this point in 2021. Quarterback Joe Burrow showed last 12 months that he can get white-hot down the stretch, and assuming Chase does return—he avoided injured reserve—it could occur again.
Plus, the Bengals finally got Joe Mixon and the bottom game moving into Week 9 before heading into their bye. Cincinnati rushed for 241 yards against the Carolina Panthers, marking only the third time it has topped 100 yards this season.
The defense, which ranks a solid tenth in yards allowed, is about to get standout tackle D.J. Reader (knee) back. While cornerback Chidobe Awuzie recently landed on injured reserve with a knee injury, the return of Reader (43 tackles, two sacks last season) shall be huge.
Other than the Chase and Awuzie injuries, the vast majority of key contributors are healthy. Perhaps more importantly, Cincinnati knows what it takes to beat a troublesome situation.
“We’re not panicking,” Burrow told reporters after losing in Cleveland. “We all know what went unsuitable in each game.”
The Bengals beat the AFC’s No. 1 and No. 2 seeds en path to Super Bowl LVI. So long as they’ll climb right into a playoff position, they’ll be an opponent that no team desires to face within the postseason.
Green Bay Packers
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- Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Super Bowl Odds: +7000
It hasn’t been a superb season for the Green Bay Packers to this point. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has not played just like the reigning (and back-to-back) MVP, and the offense has lacked chemistry.
Green Bay’s defense, meanwhile, has been atrocious against the run, surrendering 4.8 yards per carry. This has created a two-sided problem because opponents are willing to follow the run now that the Packers aren’t scoring points in bunches—though Green Bay’s ninth-ranked overall defense is not an entire liability.
The Packers also experienced a five-game losing streak that put them in an enormous hole within the NFC North. The Minnesota Vikings sit at 8-1 and are running away with the division.
Here’s the thing, though. Rodgers may finally have found his alternative for Davante Adams in Week 10. Rookie wideout Christian Watson caught 4 passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns.
Green Bay also has an elite backfield duo in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. If it has found its big-play receiver, the offense could possibly be dangerous down the stretch.
We just saw the Packers outlast a excellent Dallas Cowboys team in extra time, which could give them the arrogance they should make a run.
“Man, it has been a protracted time to arise here and have a smile,” head coach Matt LaFleur said, per Doug Russell of Fox 1070 The Game.
The schedule is daunting, as Green Bay faces the Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles and scrappy Chicago Bears before its Week 14 bye. Nonetheless, this can be a talented squad.
The Packers aren’t claiming the NFC’s No. 1 seed as they did a 12 months ago, but in the event that they make the playoffs, teams should write them off at their very own risk.
Los Angeles Chargers
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- Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Super Bowl Odds: +3500
The most important obstacle faced by the Los Angeles Chargers is and has been the injury bug. Left tackle Rashawn Slater (biceps) is on injured reserve, while pass-rusher Joey Bosa (groin) and top wideouts Mike Williams (ankle) and Keenan Allen (hamstring) have missed significant time.
Defensive tackles Otito Ogbonnia (knee) and Christian Covington (pectoral) are each expected to miss the remaining of the season.
Yet the Chargers have stayed afloat due to the stellar play of quarterback Justin Herbert, running back Austin Ekeler and an offensive line that has survived the lack of Slater (a league-low 13 sacks allowed).
Bosa, Williams and Allen are all expected to return this season and maybe soon.
“You will notice Mike and Keenan back in practice this week,” head coach Brandon Staley said Monday, per Eric Smith of the team’s official website.
If Williams and Allen can play in Week 11, the Chargers should stand a probability against the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that beat L.A. by a mere field goal in Week 2. If the Chargers do move to 6-4 with a win over their biggest division rival, you may bet that they will not be ignored any longer.
Los Angeles was removed from ignored when the season began. Bleacher Report’s panel of NFL experts made the Chargers its pick to be AFC West champions in July, thanks in no small part to the presence of budding star Herbert.
Herbert is distancing himself from the Week 2 rib injury that hampered him early. If key players like Williams, Allen and Bosa do return, they could possibly be much closer to the team we expected to see in the course of the summer.
Injuries are the good equalizer within the NFL they usually’re tough to beat. Nonetheless, a healthier Chargers team is one that would make a surprise run in the course of the postseason.
Recent York Giants
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- Dustin Satloff/Getty Images
Super Bowl Odds: +6000
The Giants are tied with Kansas City for the third-best record within the NFL. Yet many people—including the Vegas oddsmakers—appear to view Recent York as a cute story quite than a legitimate contender.
And that won’t surprising. It is a franchise that hadn’t been above .500 at any point within the previous five seasons. It has a quarterback in Daniel Jones who’s teetering on bust status and a rookie head coach in Brian Daboll.
Yet, the Giants are 7-2 for a reason.
Jones has thrived in a game-manager role this season (92.7 rating), and Recent York has played incredibly hard for Daboll. The defense is ninth in points allowed, and the Giants have continually found ways to drag out close games.
Oh, and Recent York has a legitimate MVP candidate in running back Saquon Barkley, though he won’t win what has grow to be essentially a quarterback award.
Barkley has already racked up 931 rushing yards, 197 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s able to putting the offense on his back when it’s mandatory.
“He loves the chance to take over a game and play in addition to he did,” Jones said after Sunday’s 24-16 victory over the Houston Texans, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
It could be silly to think that Barkley couldn’t take over playoff games as well. Considering Recent York is barely one contest behind the Vikings and Eagles for the NFC’s No. 1 seed, there’s an outdoor probability that the Giants can earn a bye and only need two playoff wins to succeed in Super Bowl LVII.
Big Blue aren’t only a fun story. They’re tough, physical, opportunistic and well-coached. That is the type of team that could be a problem within the postseason.
Recent York Jets
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- AP Photo/Noah K. Murray
Super Bowl Odds: +6000
Just like the Giants, the Recent York Jets appear to be viewed as a pleasant midseason story quite than an actual playoff threat. This is not unexpected, because the Jets have not been to the playoff since 2010.
Recent York can be behind the Dolphins within the AFC East and shares a record with the Buffalo Bills, a team that’s widely thought to be a Super Bowl favorite. It’s price noting, though, that the Jets have already beaten the Dolphins and the Bills this season.
This is probably the most important reason why the Jets ought to be taken seriously. Miami and Buffalo are two teams that Recent York could face in elimination games, and the Jets aren’t going to be intimidated.
In fact, confidence alone won’t deliver a Super Bowl berth. The team will still need to overcome the shaky play of quarterback Zach Wilson (75.5 rating) and a remaining schedule that features five games against opponents with winning records. Nonetheless, they’re prepared to take things one game at a time.
“I’m undecided if it’s necessarily going through people as much because it is handling our business, doing our job, and playing to the perfect of our ability and trusting that if we do this, we are going to just like the result,” head coach Robert Saleh said, per Brian Costello of the Recent York Post.
The Jets have largely handled their business to this point, especially on defense. They rank seventh in yards and tenth in points allowed. So long as Wilson can limit his mistakes, a powerful defense and playmakers like Michael Carter, James Robinson and Garrett Wilson could carry Recent York within the postseason.
Are the Jets long shots to make the Super Bowl? Absolutely, but when a number of things break their way, including the suitable playoff matchups, they could possibly be this 12 months’s version of the Bengals: a surprise team that rises from years of mediocrity to shock the world.
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