Sep 24, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The 2022 NFL season is rapidly approaching, and these five teams could surprise some with a trip to the postseason.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are largely believed to be the fourth-best team in the AFC North, but it’s impossible to count out head coach Mike Tomlin. Everyone know Tomlin has never endured a losing season since taking over Pittsburgh in 2007. The Steelers have major questions on offense, chief among them being whether Mitchell Trubisky or Kennt Pickett will start the majority of the games. Still, the defense should been of the league’s best led by edge rusher T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
4. New York Giants
After a decade of being a bottom feeder, the Giants are actually somewhat intriguing this year. New York’s defense is in need of major repairs, but the offense has real weapons in running back Saquon Barkley and receivers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton for quarterback Daniel Jones to throw to. If head coach Brian Daboll can get Jones right, New York could be fun in the weak NFC East.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are a deep sleeper considering they’ve held the No. 1 overall pick in each of the past two seasons. However, Jacksonville upgraded from head coach Urban Meyer to Doug Pederson, and added weaponry around second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence in receiver Christian Kirk and running back Travis Etienne (back from injury). Jacksonville spent more money than anybody in free agency, and could make a surprise run in the AFC South.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota might not be considered a sleeper for some, but the Vikings are a quality team with excellent players on both sides of the ball. With first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell at the helm, Minnesota has an offense with quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, and receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. Defensively, look for a bounce-back year from edge rusher Danielle Hunter while safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Eric Kendricks are All-Pro performers on the other levels.
1. Arizona Cardinals
What to make of the Cardinals? Yes, they’re without star receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the year due to suspension, but the rest of the offense should function properly even without him. Quarterback Kyler Murray is trying to get an extension, and he’s surrounded by running back James Conner, tight end Zach Ertz and receivers Rondale Moore, A.J. Green and Hollywood Brown. While the defense is concerning beyond safety Budda Baker and edge rusher Markus Golden, the Cardinals are dangerous and could win 10+ games.