My Top 5 Under The Radar NFL Super Bowl Hopefuls & Odds To Keep an Eye On In 2020

My Top 5 Under The Radar NFL Super Bowl Hopefuls & Odds To Keep an Eye On In 2020

Written by on April 21, 2020

When it comes to the upcoming 2020 NFL season, it’s easy to list the teams that are expected to be the top Super Bowl contenders to win Super Bowl 55 next February. However, when it comes to the teams that could legitimately challenge in 2020, they clearly aren’t getting as much attention as some of their top title contending counterparts heading into next season. No matter, I’m going to highlight five ‘under the radar’ teams that could surprise in a big way in 2020 if all goes right. Now, let’s get started.

My Top 5 Under The Radar NFL Super Bowl Hopefuls & Odds To Keep an Eye On in 2020

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the runner-up San Francisco 49ers both appear to be in fine shape to contend for years after their respective 2019 campaigns. Then, there’s the Baltimore Ravens, who look like they’ll also contend for the next decade to come, thanks to the otherworldly talents of reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson.

In Seattle, the Seahawks will always have a chance as long as superstar quarterback Russell Wilson is running the show. The perennially-powerful New Orleans Saints have been knocking at the Super Bowl door and could kick it down this coming season if all goes well and the Green Bay Packers still have that ‘bad man’ leading them in future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.

Atlanta Falcons (7-9, 2nd in NFC South)

The Falcons might have some high-profile veterans like perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones and franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, but they are definitely flying under the radar as they get set for the 2020 NFL regular season. Atlanta went an uninspiring 7-9 a year ago despite entering the 2019 campaign with some lofty playoff hopes. The Falcons struggled mightily at the start of last season, by going a pitiful 1-7 over their first eight games to ruin any chances of reaching the playoffs they had previously entertained.

Keys To Success

While Atlanta underachieved in a big way a year ago, there’s still plenty of hope they can get back to being a legitimate contender in 2020. First, the Falcons won six of their final eight games and four straight to finish off the 2019 season while beating the playoff-bound Saints and 49ers along the way.

Then, there’s the fact that the Falcons finished a stellar third in passing (294.6 ypg.) and a respectable 13th in scoring (23.8 ppg). Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan still looks good after completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 4,466 yards and 26 TD passes, though he did toss 14 costly interceptions. Then, there’s the fact that superstar wide receiver Julio Jones is still pretty damned unstoppable after hauling in 99 passes for 1,394 yards and six scores and young wide receiver Calvin Ridley has posted back-to-back seasons of over 800 receiving yards.

Atlanta also made a series of decent moves in free agency by adding former Rams franchise running back Todd Gurley, veteran defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and they should be able to upgrade their roster on the defensive side of the ball as they own the 16th pick in a draft loaded with defensive talent.

The Bad News Is…

The Falcons really need to improve on the defensive side of the ball after finishing 22nd against the pass and 23rd in points allowed (24.9 ppg). If the Falcons don’t improve defensively, there’s no way they are going to stop the likes of Drew Brees and now, Tom Brady, in the NFC South. If Atlanta plays competent defense in 2020, they could surprise in a big way because of their dangerous offense and make it all the way to the Super Bowl. If they don’t upgrade their defense, you can expect another modest season that ends up right around 8-8.

Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1, 4th in NFC West)

On the surface, it might seem like Arizona’s five-win season from a year ago was a horrific mark that was indicative of a failing franchise. However, that clearly wasn’t the case as first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray succeeded in a big way in 2019.

Keys To Success

The Cardinals clearly have a great talent in Kyler Murray. The gifted dual-threat signal-caller completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 3,772 yards with 20 TD passes and a dozen interceptions while adding 544 rushing yards and another four scores. More importantly, the Cards got Murray some major help by stealing perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from Houston while re-signing running back Kenyan Drake and adding a handful of veteran defensive players including defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. If the Cards add a few more players in the draft that can make an immediate impact, the Cards could easily reach 8-8 or better this coming campaign.

The Bad News Is…

Arizona was a compete and utter mess on the defensive side of the ball a year ago. The Cardinals finished the 2019 season ranked dead last in total yards, 31st against the pass and 28th in points allowed (28.0 ppg). While Arizona made some decent additions in free agency, they clearly didn’t make a big splash by signing a high level impact player. No matter how good Murray and the offense is in 2020, if they don’t improve defensively, they’ll struggle against some of their offensively-explosive opponents this coming campaign.

Buffalo Bills (10-6, 2nd in AFC East)

The Bills recorded their second winning season in three years under head coach Sean McDermott by going 10-6 last season to finish second to New England in the AFC East.

Keys To Success

The good news for the Bills is that Tom Brady is out of New England, paving the way for another team to finally overtake the perennially-powerful Patriots. In addition to that, Buffalo has an elite defense that finished third overall and a stupendous second in points allowed (16.2 ppg) in 2019. The Bills also have a powerful rushing attack that finished eighth overall a year ago. Buffalo also added Pro Bowl wide receiver Stephon Diggs during the free agent signing period via a trade with Minnesota while adding a handful of veteran defensive players like defensive end Mario Addison.

The Bad News Is…

Buffalo finished 2019 ranked an uninspiring 26th in passing and 23rd in scoring (19.6 ppg). While young quarterback Josh Allen has a powerful arm and a ton of potential, he’s also completed a pitiful 56.3 percent of his passes in two years  while tossing 21 interceptions against 30 TD passes. While the addition of Diggs will undoubtedly help the passing game, Allen definitely needs to get more accurate as a passer if the Bills want to get to the next level. The Bills don’t pick until the 54 overall selection and it would help their cause in 202 if they can find at least a couple of immediate impact players.

Indianapolis Colts (7-9, 3rd in AFC South)

Indianapolis went a modest 7-9 last season to finish behind Houston and Tennessee in the AFC South a year ago. Still, the Colts have the look of a dangerous under the radar team if you ask me.

Keys To Success

Indy went 10-6 in 2018 in head coach Frank Reich’s inaugural campaign, thanks to the fantastic season that now retired quarterback Andrew Luck had that year. After turning to veteran Jacoby Brissett a year ago and playing mostly mediocre football as their backup-turned-starter battled injuries all season, the Colts are now turning to veteran Philip Rivers to help them get back into the Super Bowl mix in the AFC.

Rivers, who played all 16 years of his NFL career with the Chargers, passed for 4,615 yards last season, but he was limited to just 23 TD tosses while tossing 20 interceptions. If Rivers can cut down on his interceptions and get back to playing at a high level, Indianapolis could very well get back to being a double-digit winner like they were in 2018 seeing as how they have a solid rushing attack that ranked seventh overall in 2019.

The Bad News Is…

The Colts need to fix a defense that finished 23rd against the pass and 18th in points allowed (23.3 ppg). To address their needs, Indianapolis signed veteran defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in free agency while also adding veteran tight end Eric Ebron and cornerback Xavier Rhodes among others. The Colts also don’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft, so they had better find some good value from the second round on.

Chicago Bears (8-8, 3rd in NFC North)

Chicago sank to eight wins last season, but they did win an impressive 12 games in 2018 and I believe they could get back in the Super Bowl mix – if everything goes right in 2020.

Keys To Success

The Bears have an elite defense that finished the 2019 campaign ranked eighth overall, ninth against the pass, ninth against the run and a stellar fourth in points allowed (18.6 ppg). Chicago added veteran tight end Jimmy Graham, edge rusherRobert Quinn and defensive backs Artie Burns and Jordan Lucas in free agency. More importantly, they traded for veteran quarterback Nick Foles and that addition alone could be the key to putting the Bears back in contention if he can nail down the starting job over mediocre starter Mitch Trubisky.

The Bad News Is…

While the Bears were elite defensively a year ago, they struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball in ranking 29th overall, 25th in passing, 27th in rushing and a dismal 29th in scoring (17.5 ppg). More importantly, the Bears need to still improve their talent on the offensive side of the ball and they don’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft to help them address those needs, although they do own a pair of second round picks.