NFL Groups Finest Positioned to Make a Shock Run By way of the 2022 Playoffs

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NFL Groups Finest Positioned to Make a Shock Run By way of the 2022 Playoffs


NFL Groups Finest Positioned to Make a Shock Run By way of the 2022 Playoffs

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    Chargers QB Justin Herbert

    Chargers QB Justin HerbertJustin Casterline/Getty Pictures

    Week 17 of the 2022 NFL season kicked off on Thursday night time, which implies we’re roughly two weeks away from the beginning of the postseason. Heading into Sunday, we now have a good suggestion of who this 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl favorites are.

    The Philadelphia Eagles are just one win away from clinching the No. 1 seed within the NFC. Nonetheless, the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers are nonetheless technically alive for that coveted first-round bye. Within the AFC, the Buffalo Payments, Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas Metropolis Chiefs are vying for the No. 1 seed.

    Unsurprisingly, all of those groups—other than the Vikings, which oddsmakers do not take too significantly—have 11-1 or higher Tremendous Bowl odds, based on DraftKings Sportsbook.

    The previous two years have proven that the favorites do not at all times get to the massive recreation, although. The Bengals and Los Angeles Rams every reached the Tremendous Bowl as a No. 4 seed final 12 months. The earlier 12 months, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gained all of it because the NFC’s No. 5 seed.

    Components like playoff expertise, group well being and momentum—there’s so much to be mentioned for peaking on the proper time—can outweigh the advantages of home-field benefit or a bye.

    With that in thoughts, let’s study 5 of the non-favorites who might make shock runs to Tremendous Bowl LVII. Every group listed right here has 20-1 or longer odds to win the Tremendous Bowl however might nonetheless be a serious postseason menace.

    Groups are listed in alphabetical order.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

    Ravens QB Lamar JacksonG Fiume/Getty Pictures

    Tremendous Bowl Odds: 25-1

    The Baltimore Ravens nonetheless have a shot at profitable the AFC North, so they are not as a lot of a protracted shot as a number of the different groups featured right here. Nonetheless, they’d need to win out and beat the Cincinnati Bengals—who’re presently driving a seven-game profitable streak—to host a wild-card recreation.

    The most important query mark for the Ravens proper now could be the well being of star quarterback Lamar Jackson. The 2-time Professional Bowler has been out since struggling a PCL harm in Week 13, and Baltimore hasn’t been the identical with out him.

    With Tyler Huntley at quarterback, the Ravens have scraped by the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons. In addition they received embarrassed by the lowly Cleveland Browns. Since Jackson has been out, Baltimore has not seemed like a reputable menace to achieve the Tremendous Bowl.

    Nonetheless, Jackson could possibly be again for the playoffs. Based on Mike Preston of the Baltimore Solar, Jackson’s restoration timeline is 4-6 weeks, which might doubtlessly put him again underneath middle for the wild-card spherical.

    Jackson is arguably the toughest quarterback within the NFL to defend due to his dual-threat capability, and he’d make Baltimore a menace towards any opponent. What makes the Ravens actually harmful, although, is the truth that they’ve discovered to lean on their protection and floor recreation with out him.

    Robert Griffin III @RGIII

    Two issues the

    With or with out Jackson, the Ravens can run the ball properly. Their protection ranks third in factors allowed. With Jackson chewing up yards on the bottom and dropping dimes to the likes of Mark Andrews and Demarcus Robinson, the Ravens offense shall be even more durable to deal with.

    Jackson has by no means taken the Ravens past the divisional spherical, however that might very properly change this season if he returns to 100%. He is one of many hardest quarterbacks for opponents to arrange for, and he is main a group that’s constructed to win shut video games in January.

Inexperienced Bay Packers

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    Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

    Packers QB Aaron RodgersPeter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Pictures

    Tremendous Bowl Odds: 50-1

    Lots has gone awry for the Inexperienced Bay Packers in 2022. They misplaced offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett within the offseason, traded away No. 1 receiver Davante Adams, and rookie wideouts Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson missed varied stretches because of accidents.

    The consequence has been a disjointed offense and a few surprisingly poor play by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His 91.3 passer ranking is his lowest since he turned a starter in 2008. Rodgers has additionally handled thumb and rib accidents, which hasn’t helped issues.

    Regardless of all of that, Inexperienced Bay nonetheless has a shot at making the playoffs. The 7-8 Packers have to win out and get both one loss by the Washington Commanders or two losses by the New York Giants.

    If the Packers do get in, they will be a menace within the NFC. Rodgers has made 21 playoff begins, and it is not as if he is forgotten the best way to play quarterback. He was the NFL’s MVP in 2021 and 2022 for a cause.

    However the greatest cause why Inexperienced Bay will be harmful is the method it has present in latest weeks.

    Since simply earlier than their Week 14 bye, the Packers have found out the best way to win with out Rodgers being nice. They’ve leaned on Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon and a powerful floor recreation, together with an aggressive and opportunistic protection.

    Throughout Inexperienced Bay’s three-game profitable streak, the Packers have rushed for 392 yards whereas forcing eight turnovers on protection. Rodgers has performed the game-manager function, steering the offense and making the occasional clutch throw.

    Having Watson and Doubs within the lineup because the bye—though Watson exited final week with a hip harm—has helped maintain the Packers offense from being too one-dimensional. If each can keep wholesome, Inexperienced Bay can win video games by controlling the tempo, having a balanced offensive assault and forcing the opposition into miscues.

    That recipe can work within the postseason. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers largely rode it to a championship in Tremendous Bowl LV. It makes Inexperienced Bay an even bigger menace than the rival Detroit Lions, who’ve just about the identical path to the postseason.

    Detroit can gentle it up offensively, however its protection is atrocious. The Lions rank useless final in each yards and factors allowed and simply surrendered 570 yards (together with 320 dashing yards) in an upset loss to the Carolina Panthers.

    The massive query for Inexperienced Bay, other than whether or not it may even get into the postseason, is whether or not Rodgers can revert to his MVP type when he has to. If he can, no group ought to really feel secure taking part in the Packers in January.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence

    Jaguars QB Trevor LawrenceMichael Owens/Getty Pictures

    Tremendous Bowl Odds: 60-1

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of many NFL’s greatest surprises over the second half of the 2022 season. They had been 3-7 earlier than their Week 11 bye however have gone 4-1 since then. With the Tennessee Titans floundering, they’re now in place to take the AFC South.

    No matter what occurs this week, the Jags shall be division champions in the event that they beat the slumping Titans in Week 18. They will host a playoff recreation if that occurs, and so they might make the form of unexpected run that the Bengals did final 12 months.

    There are loads of similarities between final 12 months’s Bengals and the Jags group we have seen over the previous month. Like Joe Burrow earlier than him, quarterback Trevor Lawrence has morphed into an elite quarterback. His 96.0 passer ranking does not fairly present how particular he is been because the bye, however the come-from-behind win he engineered towards Dallas in Week 15 does.

    Jacksonville can also be taking part in powerful, bodily and environment friendly protection, very similar to Cincinnati did final 12 months. Whereas the Jaguars rank fifteenth in factors allowed, they’ve pressured eight turnovers and notched 10 sacks throughout their latest three-game profitable streak.

    Whereas the Jaguars haven’t got a star like Ja’Marr Chase headlining their receiving corps, they do have playmaking pass-catchers in Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones Jr. and Evan Engram. In addition they have a harmful dual-threat working again in Travis Etienne Jr. As Joe Mixon did for Cincinnati final 12 months, Etienne might help the Jags obtain offensive stability.

    Jacksonville did fall flat towards the Lions in Week 13, nevertheless it has seemed as harmful as any group within the league over the previous three weeks. On high of that, the Jaguars have a Tremendous Bowl-winning head coach in Doug Pederson.

    Pederson steered the Eagles to a Tremendous Bowl victory in 2017 regardless of dropping beginning quarterback Carson Wentz simply earlier than the playoffs. He is aware of precisely what postseason success requires, and the gamers imagine in him.

    “Doug does an excellent job on being a frontrunner of the group,” linebacker Josh Allen mentioned, per Gene Frenette of the Florida Occasions-Union. “His communication is the very best communication I’ve had with a head coach right here.”

    With Pederson steering the proverbial ship and the Jags getting scorching on the proper time, the AFC might ship back-to-back No. 4 seeds to the Tremendous Bowl.

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Chargers RB Austin Ekeler

    Chargers RB Austin EkelerJustin Casterline/Getty Pictures

    Tremendous Bowl Odds: 22-1

    The Los Angeles Chargers can climb no larger than the No. 5 seed within the AFC, however opponents will not need to face them within the postseason. In contrast to the Miami Dolphins—who’ve misplaced 4 straight and simply misplaced quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to a different concussion—the Chargers are barreling into the postseason with loads of momentum.

    Los Angeles has gained three straight and 4 of its final 5. Receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are again within the fold after accidents (ankle and hamstring, respectively) brought about them to overlook time earlier within the season.

    The Chargers even have one of many league’s finest dual-threat backs in Austin Ekeler and an elite quarterback in Justin Herbert. L.A. can match factors with nearly any group it faces within the postseason.

    Los Angeles is an imperfect group, which is why it is locked right into a wild-card spot and never in rivalry for the AFC West crown. The offensive line has given up 38 sacks this season, and the protection ranks simply nineteenth total.

    Nonetheless, just a few potential returns might increase L.A. at precisely the right time.

    Professional Bowl offensive sort out Rashawn Slater has been out since Week 3 with a torn bicep, however Chargers have not dominated out his return in 2022. The Chargers additionally designated star pass-rusher Joey Bosa (groin) to return from injured reserve on Thursday, per NFL.com’s Nick Shook.

    The Chargers protection has began to gel in latest weeks, permitting a complete of 34 factors throughout its three-game profitable streak. If the protection can preserve that degree of play—and get again the pass-rushing tandem of Bosa and Khalil Mack—it will likely be a powerful complement to an offense that may transfer the ball in chunks.

    The Chargers have twice misplaced to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs—who’re tied with the Buffalo Payments for the very best report within the AFC—however these losses had been by a mixed six factors. There’s little cause to imagine L.A. could not beat Kansas Metropolis in a 3rd recreation or cling with another contender within the convention.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Buccaneers QB Tom Brady

    Buccaneers QB Tom BradyChristian Petersen/Getty Pictures

    Tremendous Bowl Odds: 28-1

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the identical Tremendous Bowl odds because the Minnesota Vikings, who’ve already gained the NFC North and are presently the No. 2 seed within the NFC. In the meantime, Tampa Bay is not even assured a spot within the playoffs.

    To get in, the Bucs should win the woeful NFC South. That problem begins with beating the Panthers—one other surging group—this week.

    Why do the 7-8 Buccaneers have the identical Tremendous Bowl odds because the 12-3 Vikings? There’s one cause, and his title is Tom Brady.

    Brady hasn’t performed notably properly in 2022. His 87.9 passer ranking is his lowest since 2013. Behind a banged-up offensive line, he hasn’t had the time to persistently discover star wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin deep downfield.

    Nonetheless, Brady has proven occasional flashes of brilliance. He led a surprising comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 13 and one other towards the Arizona Cardinals final week. Is anybody going to rely out the 45-year-old in an in depth playoff contest?

    However the Buccaneers aren’t a menace solely due to Brady. They’ve gamers like Evans and Godwin, a powerful backfield tandem in Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White and a protection that ranks sixth total and seventh in factors allowed.

    Plus, with Professional Bowl middle Ryan Jensen (knee) probably returning for the playoffs and sort out Donovan Smith returning to follow this week, the offensive line could possibly be as wholesome as it has been all season—if Tampa reaches the playoffs.

    The Bucs have not seemed like title contenders at any level this season, but when they beat the Panthers, they will be within the dance. If they will discover the offensive chemistry that has eluded them within the common season, they will make a critical run from there.

    It is by no means too good to guess towards Brady within the postseason.


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