Every year, teams arise from nowhere to contend for playoff spots and sometimes the Super Bowl. Here are the five teams I think can shock some people this football season.
#5- New York Jets
The Jets have the potential to sneak into the open AFC Playoff Picture. Sam Darnold is a good quarterback, and he should continue his development throughout his 2nd season with offensive minded coach Adam Gase. The defensive line is very good, with Leonard and Quinnen Williams leading the inside. If Le’veon Bell is utilized the right way, I can definitely see the Jets being the 6th seed. However, I’d say they’re still a year or two away from being able to do postseason damage.
#4- San Francisco 49ers
This is the year I think the 49ers will start to put it all together. Kyle Shanahan is a great offensive mind- on the level of Sean McVay. He will make the Niners offense great. behind Jimmy G, a trio of solid backs and receivers, and superstar George Kittle, the Niners should be a top 10 unit. The defensive side of the ball is what gives me hope. While the secondary isn’t particularly strong, the front 7 is up there with the best in the league. For years, San Francisco has stockpiled players for their defensive line. The front 7 includes Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, Deforest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Fred Warner, and Kwon Alexander. I think Seattle and Los Angeles will both take steps back this year, opening the door for the 49ers to make the playoffs.
#3- Green Bay Packers
Every year NFL fans star to believe in the Packers, and every year they are often left disappointed. This could be the year that changes. Mike McCarthy is finally gone. Green Bay decided to spend money in free agency, giving them four new defensive starters. The Packers had a solid draft, securing Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage. Add in the fact that the Packers have one of the best quarterbacks and best receivers in the league, you start to realize the Packers could be a very good team. Playing in the NFC North makes it tough, as on paper each team is a playoff contender. However, Rodgers is the QB I trust the most out of the 4, and I can definitely see a world in which the Packers are playing football in January for the first time since 2017.
#2- Denver Broncos
Denver could be a 11 win playoff team, or a 5 win disappointment. It all depends on Joe Flacco.
The Broncos roster is very solid. Let me start with head coach Vic Fangio. I loved the hire. Fangio has never been given a head coaching opportunity, but his last season as the Bears defensive coordinator proved he was more than ready. The Broncos quietly built a very strong running back core, the receivers include Emanuel Sanders, and a breakout candidate in Courtland Sutton. On the defensive side of the ball, they have the best pass rushing duo in the league. On one side they have Von Miller, and on the other they have Bradley Chubb, who could be the next Von Miller. The corners are really underrated in Chris Harris and Bryce Callahan. Denver will be a playoff team this season.
#1- Atlanta Falcons
My expectations for this Falcons team are sky high. I think they’re a Super Bowl contender. The offense is up there with the best in the league, as it features the best receiver, a top five quarterback, solid players like Mo Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper, and Devonta Freeman. Atlanta clearly made an effort to fix the offensive line, drafting two big boys in the first round of the draft this year. On defense, Deion Jones & Keanu Neal are the focal points. At every position, the Falcons have good players. The coaching should be better this year, as Dirk Koetter will now be calling the plays on offense. The key for this team to do anything is going to be staying healthy. If the Falcons can avoid a season plagued with injuries to most starters, they can be the class of the NFC.