NFL Sleepers for 2022

Every year, there are a handful of NFL teams that take the league by storm. There are, of course, the perennial favorites: Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers

But what about the diamonds in the rough? Teams that come into the season with few expectations and then shock the football world with wins and excitement? Last season, it was the upstart Cincinnati Bengals, who rode second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and freshman receiver Ja’Marr Chase to the Super Bowl

Had you bet on the Bengals to make the Super Bowl, you would’ve been a wealthy individual. You might also have been called crazy by friends and family. 

That’s probably worth it. 

But as we head into the heat of summer, fans are already looking ahead to see if their team could be the next great NFL sleeper. After all, if the Bengals could do it, why not the Falcons? Or Jaguars?

Don’t count on the Jags. 

FanDuel currently gives the Eagles 28-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, 14th-best in the NFL. But there might be significant value in going with the Birds heading into 2022-23. 

The team projects to have two excellent receivers in AJ Brown and DeVonte Smith, along with a top-10 tight end in Dallas Goedert. Further, the team brings back an excellent offensive line infusing veteran talents in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson with young studs like Landon Dickerson and Jordan Mailata. 

On defense, the Eagles gave coordinator Jonathan Gannon several new toys to work with. The squad drafted Jordan Davis in the first round, who should provide some excellent depth at tackle. Nakobe Dean, who slid from the first round to the third, could be a steal at linebacker. Thrown in Haason Reddick and James Bradberry in the defensive secondary, and the Eagles could see an already stout defensive play even better. 

But let’s not mince words here. The season will come down to one person: Jalen Hurts. 

Last season, the Eagles handed Hurts the keys after trading away Carson Wentz. While Hurts keeps defenses guessing with his scrambling ability, he needs to show coaches that he’s capable of making downfield reads and throws. Or else it does no good to have Smith, Brown, and Goedert if no one can get them the ball. 

Nonetheless, the NFC East is beleaguered. The Cowboys are in a state of flux, constantly on the precipice of either contention or catastrophe. The Commanders and Giants still look a few years away from serious contention. 

Into the vacuum, the Eagles should step. And if they win the division and land a favorable first-round playoff matchup, then the team could carry momentum into the later playoff rounds. 

Look out.  

Want to see how the Eagles stack up for week 1 against the Lions? Check out PicksforTonight’s NFL score predictions for every game and every week of the season. Their computer model runs 10,000 simulations of every game and tells you which side to pick. 

  • Cincinnati Bengals

Wait, didn’t the Bengals just make the Super Bowl? How are they a sleeper? Great question. 

The Bengals are included in this list because they are far from the betting favorites to a) win the AFC North  (+250) and b) the Super Bowl (+2200). Those Super Bowl odds aren’t even in the top 10. For comparison’s sake, Kansas City, the runners-up two years ago, had the best odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy last season (+450). 

So yeah, the Bengals are still slept on.

But the team improved massively this summer, picking up key pieces to fortify an awful offensive line. Is it possible Joe Burrow has an even better 2022-23? What about Ja’Marr Chase? 

The rest of the division is in minor disarray. The Browns are apparently riding (or dying) with Deshaun Watson, who could very well miss all of 2022-23 with a suspension. The Ravens are relying on the injury-plagued Lamar Jackson who saw his favorite teammate and target Marquise Brown depart via trade during the draft. And the Steelers could field one of Mason Rudolph, Mitchell Trubisky, or Kenny Pickett under center. 

The biggest challenge facing Cincinnati isn’t even in its division, oddly enough. 

The AFC saw a massive increase in talent this offseason, with the AFC West suddenly looking like one of the best divisions in football history. Throw in matches against the Buccaneers, Bills, Patriots, and Cowboys, and the Bengals could have a tough regular season on their hands. 

But as long as Evan McPherson is kicking daggers from deep, this team has a chance. 

  • Saints

Moving back out of the AFC now, we go to a division that could be boom or bust this season: the NFC South. 

The New Orleans Saints (+400) are a very distant second to win the division, behind the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To win it all, the team sits at 40-1. 

And you never want to be the one betting against Tom Brady, but is it possible the division could open up for another team to take the title? If so, it would undoubtedly be the New Orleans Saints. 

The Panthers and Falcons are rebuilding, each potentially fielding rookie quarterbacks this season. And the Buccaneers are going with a new head coach in Todd Bowles. And though former head coach Bruce Arians had lovely things to say about Bowles’ potential as a head coach, the truth is, we have a sampling. 

As head coach of the New York Jets, Bowles went 24-40 over four seasons. In his first season at the helm in 2015, he led the team to a 10-6 record, good enough for second in the AFC East. Curious who finished first? Tom Brady’s Patriots. 

The Saints, for their part, looked like contenders last season before Jameis Winston went down with an injury. But Winston is back, joined by key offseason additions Jarvis Landry and Tyrann Mathieu.  

New Orleans also drafted Chris Olave, a former Ohio State star who has breakout potential. 

If new head coach Dennis Allen can keep the quality of play where Sean Payton left it, the Saints will be a tough out this season. Even if they don’t win the division and sneak into the playoffs via the Wild Card, watch out. 

Want to place a wager on one of the sleepers we listed above? Check out the risk free bets from sportsbooks in your area. These sportsbooks are giving away free money just for signing up, so take them up on it, get your sleeper bets in, then take your extra money and ride PicksforTonight with some of their expert college football picks. Start winning more money this season! 

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