The 2016 NFL regular season as ever closer as there is just one more week of preseason games before the regular season kicks off. It has been an entertaining four weeks of preseason, but every fan is ready for the games to actually mean something when the regular season arrives.
Looking ahead at the upcoming season, there are obvious favorites in both the NFC and AFC conferences. As is the case each and every season, there are also teams who will not compete and are still stuck in rebuilding processes. Sometimes teams can surprise, although this year there are a very small amount of teams who will compete with the big dogs.
It is obvious in the NFC that the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, and Seattle Seahawks are the favorites to make it to Super Bowl 51. The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos appear to be favorites in the AFC, although it is more open than the NFC. Both conferences are going to be tough for any underdog to contend in, but it is still possible.
That being said, there are also teams on the brink of breaking into the playoff picture. There are young teams that could compete for an appearance in Super Bowl 51.
Which five teams could be potential Super Bowl 51 darkhorse contenders during the 2016 NFL season?
Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings are definitely a team to keep an eye on this season. They have put together a solid defense to go along with a much improved offense. Minnesota has an uphill battle ahead of them to win a championship, but they are more than capable of making some noise.
Last season, Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals were serious contenders before he went down with injury. They ended up losing a depressing game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. Cincinnati is certainly a team to keep an eye on this season, especially with some teams taking a step down in the AFC.
After an incredibly disappointing 2015 NFL season, the Indianapolis Colts are a team to watch this season. Andrew Luck has looked incredibly sharp during preseason action and is poised for a breakout season in 2016. Indianapolis has put together a team that could win the AFC and compete for a championship this season if they play their cards right.
Washington is a team to keep an eye on as well in the NFC. They still have a lethal offense if Kirk Cousins lives up to the hype, but their defense took a huge step forward this offseason with the signing of star cornerback Josh Norman, as ESPN originally reported. There are still holes in the Redskins’ roster, but they are a dangerous team.
Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders haven’t been serious contenders for quite some time in the AFC. Mark Davis and company have done an amazing job with the roster this season and are finally a team to watch in the playoff race. Oakland likely won’t make a run all the way to Super Bowl 51, but they are a darkhorse contender.
Expect to see these five teams compete in their respective divisions throughout the 2016 season. They may not end up making deep runs in the playoffs, but they are capable of doing so if they play to their full potential. There are a few other teams that could be darkhorse contenders, but these five seem to be the top choices.
Do you think one of these five teams has a legitimate shot to win Super Bowl 51? Which other teams do you think should be considered darkhorse contenders? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
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