In the NFL, things can change quickly. The teams that won division titles last season are by no means guaranteed to do it again in 2020. Plus, there are always variables that can alter the shape of a division. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one potential dark horse from each NFL division heading into the 2020 season.
Remember when we thought the Dolphins would go winless last year? Well, Brian Flores ended up leading them to five wins. The Dolphins also had five picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.
Miami is a young team that’s getting better, and with Tom Brady out of New England, the AFC East is wide open for anybody, including the Dolphins.
Joe Burrow could make a big difference for the Bengals, especially with A.J. Green coming back from injury. Cincinnati’s offensive skill players are exciting while the rest of the roster is in decent shape.
Behind the Ravens, the AFC North is more open than it’s been in a while, leaving the door open for the Bengals to make a move coming off a 2-14 season.
Obviously, the Texans and Titans have a lot of hype, and for good reason. But don’t sleep on the Colts just yet. Even an aging Philip Rivers should be an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett.
Plus, the Indy offensive line has been one of the NFL’s best in recent years. The Colts also made some upgrades on defense, giving Darius Leonard a little help.
The Broncos have a young quarterback and a lot of talented but inexperienced receivers. It’s possible that they’re still a year away, but the upside is there, even in 2020.
Nobody is going to catch the Chiefs, but Denver could become a dark horse to become a second AFC West team to reach the playoffs.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones taking a big step forward isn’t the craziest thing in the world. If the offensive line can finally come together, running back Saquon Barkley should help take a lot of the pressure off Jones.
Philadelphia and Dallas didn’t exactly run away with the division last season, so the Giants could be within striking distance if they improve and Jones has a breakout year.
Keep in mind the Bears won the NFC North just two years ago. Chicago’s defense still has top-10 potential, which should be enough to challenge the Vikings and Packers at the top of the division.
It’s just a matter of finding an answer at quarterback with either Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles to make the Bears a contender again.
Granted, competing in the same division as Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Matt Ryan won’t be easy. However, Carolina has upgraded from Kyle Allen to Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.
They also have Christian McCaffrey, who is arguably the top playmaker in the NFL right now. It’s a long shot, but the Panthers have enough to create trouble for the rest of the NFC South.
If Kyler Murray can take another step forward after a promising rookie season, look out for Arizona. Remember, the Cardinals now have DeAndre Hopkins, as well as the ageless Larry Fitzgerald.
Of course, with the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams, it’ll be an uphill climb. But if Murray reaches another level, the Cardinals have enough around him to make some waves in the NFC West.