Okay MyBookie NFL betting fanatics, with the start of the 2020 NFL regular season set to get underway on Thursday, Sept. 10, now is a perfect time to take a look at the handful of sleeper teams that are poised to break into this year’s NFL playoffs. If you didn’t know before, each year, there is at least one or two sleeper teams that exceed expectations to either reach the postseason or finish with a surprising winning record. Let’s jump right into action so you can start to plan ahead your bets against their NFL Playoffs odds.
NFL Sleeper teams poised to break into the 2020 NFL playoffs
In 2019, the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans rose up to reach the postseason in the AFC, though both teams’ success wasn’t necessarily unpredictable. In the NFC, Green Bay far surpassed their expectations to both, win the NFC North and reach the playoffs while Seattle also reached the double-digit win mark to get into the postseason. Now, as we get set for the upcoming 2020 campaign, let’s find out which sleeper teams are looking like they could surprise in a big way.
The Steelers went what looks like a modest 8-8 a year ago, but if you look deeper then you know that Pittsburgh could very well reach the payoffs in 2020. The Steelers finished the 2019 regular season ranked 27t in scoring (18.1 ppg), but a stellar fifth in points allowed (18.9 ppg). Heading into 2020 however, there is plenty of reasons to believe the Steelers will be a lot better as franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be back under center after missing almost the entire 2019 season. In 15 seasons prior to last year, the Steelers only recorded one losing record with Big Ben under center (2006). Pittsburgh has recorded seven seasons of double-digit victories with Roethlisberger calling the shots. While the Steelers missed the playoffs in 2018, prior to that, they reached the playoffs in four straight seasons and six of their previous eight campaigns overall. The Steelers made some smart offseason moves in free agency and the draft like their additions of veteran tight end Eric Ebron, fullback Derek Watt and tackle Zach Banner in free agency while selecting Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool in the second round. I won’t be surprised if the Steelers get into the playoffs in 2020 and you shouldn’t be either.
The Colts went a modest 7-9 in 2018 while finishing the season ranked 16th in scoring (22.6 ppg) and 18th in points allowed (23.3 ppg). However, Indy brought in veteran quarterback Philip Rivers to get them back into the postseason and I believe it could happen for several reasons. Indianapolis was in the playoffs in 2018 as former franchise quarterback Andrew Luck had an MVP-caliber season. With Rivers replacing former starter Jacoby Brissett and the Colts getting arguably the biggest steal in the draft by landing former Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Not only that, but the Colts have one of the best offensive-minded head coaches in all of football in the underrated Frank Reich and I believe the Colts could not only reach the playoffs in 2020, but challenge for the division title in the AFC South.
Miami, Cleveland and the LA Chargers
Three other AFC teams also look like sleepers that could surprise. Despite their 5-11 finish a year ago, the Miami Dolphins are looking good after a complete overhaul of their roster, starting with a ton of additions in free agency and the drafting of former Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick.
Cleveland went an uninspiring 6-10 a year ago to fall way short of their preseason playoff expectations, but the Browns brought in former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and he could be the guy to get a Browns team loaded with talent, into the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Last, but not least, there’s the Los Angeles Chargers who are coming off a pitiful 5-11 campaign. The Bolts parted ways veteran quarterback Philip Rivers in favor of veteran Tyrod Taylor – and eventually – sixth overall draft pick, former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. The Chargers finished 14t in points allowed (21.6 ppg), but they could easily improve on that side of the ball as the Bolts possess a ton of elite talent, starting with gifted defensive end Nick Boa. Now, they won’t beat out Kansas City for the AFC West division title, but 10 wins and a playoff berth are now out of the question if you ask me.
In the NFC, the Chicago Bears went 8-8 with mediocre starter Mitch Trubisky playing his inconsistent brand of quarterback. Now, however, the Bears could soar in a big way after adding former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles to go along with a fantastic defense that finished fourth in points allowed a year ago (18.6 ppg).
Carolina and Arizona
Two other teams will have their work cut out in their fierce divisions, but the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals look like sleeper teams that could break into the playoffs. Carolina went 5-11 in their final year under former head coach Ron Rivera. Now, though, the Panthers could surprise in a big way after naming former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule their new leading man while acquiring veteran signal caller Teddy Bridgewater to replace Cam Newton. Carolina has a do-it-all superstar in running back Christian McCaffrey and they could surprise if their defense plays competent football.
Last, but not least, I love what the Cardinals are doing out in the desert one year after drafting former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the top overall pick and hiring former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury to lead the franchise in a new direction. Despite going 5-10-1 last season, Arizona made a pair of huge additions by trading for perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Deandre Hopkins while drafting Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons with the eighth overall pick. Yes, Arizona plays in a tough NFC West division that featured three teams that all recorded winning records a year ago, but the Rams took a big step backwards last season and Arizona looks poised to pas them up in the division in 2020 at the very least.