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Darkhorse Super Bowl contenders for 2022

Darkhorse Super Bowl contenders
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire.

Darkhorse Super Bowl Contenders: Three Teams From Each Conference to Watch in 2022

Out of 32 NFL teams, only two get to be in the Super Bowl, and most of the time, only those teams reach the Super Bowl that has been good through the years with a successful dynasty profile. However, a team often goes to the playoffs by defying odds and performing great in the regular season. But more so, the odds of such a team winning all the playoff round games to reach the Super Bowl are impossible. In the playoff round of the 2021 season, Cincinnati Bengals became such a team who played in the Super Bowl 56. They kept winning and winning, defeating the Raiders, Titans, and hard favorite the Kansas City Chiefs until they reached the final game. They were up against the LA Rams, who basically betted high on obtaining talented players by going into blockbuster trades one after the other and were already one of the favorite teams to win the Super Bowl.

The Bengals, of course, lost the final game, but just overcoming their shortcomings and issues and reaching the Super Bowl make their entire 2021 season quite memorable. Cincinnati was fourth in its division from 2018 to 2020. Even after picking up Joe Burrow in 2020, they only managed to win four games. They had issues on their defensive side and a lack of offensive weapons, but the biggest problem was a terrible offensive line which made their QB position quite vulnerable. However, in 2021 they beat all odds, fixed and overcame their issues, and became the AFC North champions. Today’s review will discuss the potential dark horse contenders who can do the same as the Bengals did in 2021.


1. Indianapolis Colts

2021 Season Record: 9-8. Missed Playoffs

The Indianapolis Colts have the potential to go all the way in 2022. They look very good on paper as well. They have one of the best running backs in the shape of Jonathan Taylor, and of course, they now have Matt Ryan as their starting quarterback. Ryan has been playing well consistently, and he fits right in at Indianapolis. In addition, the Colts have acquired some good picks in the 2022 NFL draft, apart from Ryan.

They have signed LBs Brandon King and Zaire Franklin. In addition, they extended the contracts of Matt Pryor and Tyquan Lewis. The schedule for the 2022 season has already been released, and although it’s a slightly tough schedule, we believe that Frank Reich, the head coach, will have a plan to make sure everything is ready for each game.

2. Miami Dolphins

2021 Season Record: 9-8. Missed Playoffs

The Miami Dolphins have been in the rebuilding process for a while now. They went 10-6 in 2020 and posted a win-loss record of 9-8 in 2021 under head coach Brian Flores. The Dolphins failed to qualify for the playoffs, but the coaches and management continued to work off-season and picked up great players. They signed tackle Terron Armstead and Teddy Bridgewater and traded for Tyreek Hill in a blockbuster trade.

They have also re-signed DE Emmanuel Ogbah. In the last couple of years, the Dolphins have been playing great defense, and it’s good that they have gotten Howard and Ogbah back. However, the Dolphins’ offense has also improved considerably. Tyreek Hill adds a spark to the whole offense, their offensive line has been improved, and with Tua Tagovailoa getting better last year, we expect the Dolphins to become a complete team in 2022.

3. Las Vegas Raiders

2021 Season Record: 10-7, Lost in AFC Wildcard Playoff Round

The Las Vegas Raiders are in a competitive division. They are up against Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and starting 2022 against Russel Wilson. But this also means that the Raiders will be more prepared to go against their opponents, and they will become a strong team against other teams in their regular season.

The Raiders’ most significant move in the off-season was picking up Davante Adams and adding to their already good receiving core. Many consider Adams the top WR and best route runner in the league. Derek Carr will surely benefit from this trade. Raiders also added a pass rusher, Chandler Jones, to their roster, making their defense quite lethal.

They also added cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and defensive tackle Bilal Nicholas. In addition, the Raiders picked up Dylan Parham in the 3rd round of the NFL draft. These off-season transactions will make the Raiders a much better team, and although they reached the playoffs in 2021, we expect the Raiders to have a good run throughout the 2022 season, including the playoffs.


1. Philadelphia Eagles

2021 Season Record: 9-8. Lost in NFC Wildcard Playoff Round

The Eagles made solid moves in the off-season, making them a candidate to play in Super Bowl 57. The Eagles traded for A.J. Brown. This has put the Eagles receiving core in the top tier. Philadelphia not only has Brown, but Davonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Zach Pascal.

Apart from Brown, the Eagles signed Haason Reddick, one of the leading sack leaders in the NFL in the past couple of years. In addition, the Eagles also drafted Nakobe Dean 83rd overall, and they also drafted defensive tackle Jordan Davis in the first round.

This makes the Eagles’ defense one of the best defenses in the league. Many analysts consider Davis as the best DT in his draft class. In addition, Haason Reddick will put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Offensively, we saw Jalen Hurts improving his game, and we expect that Hurts will be at his best with the addition of new offensive weapons.

2. New Orleans Saints

2021 Season Record: 9-8. Missed Playoffs

The New Orleans Saints closely missed the playoffs in 2021. They were placed in 8th position in the conference. However, the Saints are already a good team, and they got a lot better this offseason. Let’s start with the Head Coach. Sean Payton was one of the best coaches in the NFL. Replacing him will not be an easy task. For the time being, the Saints are relying on their former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to fill the void left by Payton.

In addition, the Saints re-signed free agents in the off-season, including QB Jameis Winston, wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith, DB PJ Williams, DT Shy Tuttle, DE Carl Granderson, and DT Albert Huggins. However, the more intriguing moves were when they signed former LSU Tigers Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry.

They have also added QB Andy Dalton to their roster in the offseason. In the 2022 NFL draft, the Saints selected WR Chris Olave in the first round as 11th overall, OT Trevor Penning in the first round as 19th overall, and CB Alontae Taylor in the second round. The Saints already have a good defense, and with the new signings and draft picks, their defense will surely improve, but the Saints’ offense in 2022 will carry them ahead of other teams.

3. Minnesota Vikings

2021 Season Record. 8-9. Missed Playoffs.

After missing another playoff berth, the Minnesota Vikings ownership fired the head coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman. Right now, the Vikings’ new head coach is Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell comes over from the Los Angeles Rams. Apart from hiring a new head coach, the Vikings also signed LB Jordan Hicks. Hicks has been a terrific player starting all games in his career and going for 100+ tackles.

Hicks’s inclusion in the team will dominantly improve the Vikings’ defense. Minnesota also re-signed the former All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson. In addition, the Vikings also re-signed DE Danielle Hunter. In the 2022 NFL draft, they selected safety Lewis Cine in the first round as 32nd overall, CB Andrew Booth Jr. as 42nd overall, OG Ed Ingram as 59th overall, LB Brian Asamoah 66th overall, and CB Akayleb Evans as 118th overall.

The Vikings’ entire focus was on the defensive side in the offseason, and they succeeded significantly. The team now has a very good offense and possibly one of the best defenses. Heading into the 2022 NFL season, led by the QB Kirk Cousins and offensive weapons like Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Delvin Cook, the Vikings may be one of the best-balanced teams the entire league. These are your six Darkhorse Super Bowl contenders for the 2022 NFL campaign.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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