3 NFL Teams Primed to Make the Playoffs in 2022 After Missing Them in 2021
Throughout the NFL offseason, it is always fascinating to watch the speculation as to which personnel moves will shake up the upcoming NFL season. Ultimately, we won’t know which teams will rise and fall until the games start in September. That doesn’t mean we can’t take an early look, especially from a betting perspective for early Futures market.
Here are three NFL teams that missed the playoffs in 2021, but I think are poised to make the postseason in 2022. If you don’t like the long shot odds to win the Conference Championship or Super Bowl, you could make early Futures bets on their win total or to win their division.
Los Angeles Chargers (+850 to win the AFC per FanDuel Sportsbook):
The Chargers were one missed kick (or tie) away from making the playoffs in 2021. Now they have bolstered their defense with Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson. The Chargers had the league’s 29th ranked defense in points allowed in 2021, putting extra pressure on QB Justin Herbert and the offense. I expect Herbert and his weapons to take another step in 2022. Combine that with an improved defense theoretically allowing less points, and this makes them a dangerous team in the extremely competitive AFC West.
Minnesota Vikings (+2000 to win the NFC per FanDuel Sportsbook):
The Vikings are +280 to win the NFC North, and that may be a long shot with Aaron Rodgers staying in Green Bay. I’m bullish on the Vikings to make the playoffs for multiple reasons. The path to make the playoffs in the NFC is easier than the gauntlet in the AFC. Teams with 10-7 and 9-8 records made the NFC playoffs as wildcards last season, and I expect the same this season.
While Kirk Cousins had a strong season statistically in 2021, the Vikings ranked 26th in 3rd down percentage. This is an area that needs addressed for the Vikings to get back to the playoffs. The addition of new head coach Kevin O’Connell is key. He worked with Kirk Cousins in Washington as his QB coach in 2017, and I think the familiarity will only bolster the Vikings’ offense success. It also doesn’t hurt that the Los Angeles Rams ranked 7th in 3rd down percentage last year with O’Connell as Offensive Coordinator.
I don’t mind taking a shot at +280 to win the NFC North, just in case Rodgers and the offense take a step back without Davante Adams and strong weapons. If that doesn’t sound appealing, I like betting the Vikings win total of over 8.5 wins (per FanDuel Sportsbook).
Washington Commanders (+3100 to win the NFC per FanDuel Sportsbook):
Warning: Homer fan alert! Yes, I’m a Washington fan (still getting used to Commanders). But I believe Washington can make the playoffs for similar reasons to the Vikings. The NFC is weak. Just like the Vikings, it will most likely come as a wild card. Although Washington has the 10th longest odds to win the NFC, I think they should be in the top 7.
Why? I think the upgrade of QB Carson Wentz alone adds 2-3 wins. While QB Taylor Heinicke showed he can be a solid NFL backup, his stats show that he is not a capable long-term starter. Heinicke had a Quarterback Rating of 85.9, ranking 25th in the NFL last season. Wentz ranked 13th with a rating of 94.6. Wentz was also ranked 11th in TD percentage and had the 3rd lowest interception percentage last season. Conversely, Heinicke ranked 21st in TD percentage and 28th in interception percentage.
The Commanders will get back Chase Young and other key injured players. Oh, and the Commanders have the 6th easiest strength of schedule. Look for Washington to grab last playoff spot in the NFC. While betting the Commanders to win the NFC East at +450 may be a long shot, I love the bet of getting 10 wins at +175 (odds per FanDuel Sportsbook).