5 unheeded NFL teams entering the 2022 season
Entering the 2022 NFL season, there are some teams that everyone is always talking about. Super Bowl candidates like Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccanneers, Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers and reigning Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams.
These teams usually respond to all their pre-season hype and it comes as no surprise when they ride deep into the playoffs. But there is a surprise package in every campaign. Unexpected sides that emerge as unlikely division champions, much like the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022.
DraftKings Sportsbook announced the 2022 NFL Super Bowl Championship odds, and the results offered little by way of surprises. The Buffalo Bills got the nod as favorites, followed by the Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Packers to round out the leading five. All of these teams made at least the divisional round of the playoffs in 2021.
Here are five NFL teams that we think might, just like the Bengals, be able to upset the order in 2022.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts' growth as an NFL passer is integral to the Philadelphia Eagles' efforts in 2022. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he has made some improvements, however, there are question marks over his ability to lead the Eagles down the stretch.
Philadelphia made the playoffs last year but were dismantled 15-31 by Tom Brady and the Buccanneers. This is not a shameful defeat by any means as Tampa Bay are very much in a 'win-now' mode and the Eagles are building.
This offseason, the Eagles signed cornerback James Bradberry, adding him to an already formidable defense. The roster's talent is now more apparent after trading for receiver A.J. Brown on NFL draft night. If they can build on last year's campaign, they could really threaten the crowd favorites in 2022.
Super Bowl Odds: +2500
Spread Points: 0.03
ELO Rankings: 29th
2. Miami Dolphins
Like the Eagles, the Miami Dolphins currently answer a lot of questions about their quarterback. Former Crimson Tide standout Tua Tagovailoa finished his second consecutive season with a high turnover rate (4.8%). Not to mention his lack of completed deep throws.
Miami have added Tyreek Hill, a player so fast they call him "The Cheetah," to an already speedy offense that includes Jaylen Waddle and dynamic tight end Mike Gesicki. Not only do the 2022 Dolphins' chances ride on Tagovailoa's progression, but so does the quarterback's future.
Super Bowl Odds: +4000
Spread Points: 0.5
ELO Ranking: 3rd
3. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are a real dark horse in 2022. Acting decisively following the cataclismic season-ending defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 18, the Colts traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders and replaced him with former Atlanta Falcons star Matt Ryan.
Singing the former NFL MVP his looks to be an improvement in the position and should provide a confidence boost for their roster.
The real strength of the Colts, however, is in their running game. Last year, Jonathan Taylor rushed for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns. It was an incredible haul that led the NFL in both categories. One of Indianapolis' weaknesses last season was when chasing a game, but the improvement at quarterback could be enough to tip the balance in the franchise's favor.
Super Bowl Odds: +220
Spread Points : 1.6
ELO Ranking: 26th
4. Baltimore Ravens
DraftKings has the Bengals and the Cleveland Browns with better Super Bowl odds than the Baltimore Ravens. This is probably due to the unknown of Baltimore's passing offense. Injuries derailed their 2021 season, but Lamar Jackson really wasn't his former MVP self.
Much can and has been said about Jackson's lack of pass-game weaponry, but Mark Andrews had an All-Pro tight end campaign in 2021. A star in Andrews alongside a healthy Rashod Bateman could jumpstart a passing renaissance in Baltimore. The Ravens want to utilize their mobile quarterback to cause chaos and doubt in opposing defenses. If they can get their ground game moving in 2022, spaces will start to open in the backfield for their wide receivers.
A healthy Baltimore presents a real danger not just to the AFC North, but to the NFL as a whole.
Super Bowl Odds: +2200
Spread Points : 2.16
ELO Ranking: 22nd
5. New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints will be without central coach Sean Payton for the first time since 2005. He played a huge role in shifting a struggling franchise into Super Bowl champions and annual NFC contenders, so, understandably, there are doubts about their chances.
The offense still has its question marks at the quarterback position as Jameis Winston missed most of last season with an ACL injury and is best known for throwing 30+ touchdowns and 30 interceptions in his last season at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Much rests upon the shoulders of star running back Alvin Kamara and a healthy Michael Thomas. Selecting highly rated receiver Chris Olave in the draft looks a great move for New Orleans and if Winston can take better care of the ball, the Saints could win a lot of games.
On defense, the Saints also added vaunted safety Tyrann Matheiu. You don't get a nickname like "The Honeybadger" without displaying a certain kind of skillset, and Matthieu has proven as tenacious as he is popular in the NFL.
Super Bowl Odds: +5000
Spread Points : -0.56
ELO Ranking: 30th