Every year, it seems, a host of unlikely NFL teams surprises many experts, and fans alike, in crashing the playoff party. Last year, the Bills returned to playoff football, which snapped the longest current drought in American pro sports. The new NFL playoff draught title is bestowed upon the Browns, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2002. The revolving door of the NFL playoffs should keep turning in 2018, and here are a few teams that could make a return to the postseason.
The New York Giants (Odds To Make The Playoffs Entering Season: +280)
Say what you will about Eli Manning, but the Giants had many more issues last year than just at the QB position. It seemed to many NFL insiders that former head coach Ben McAdoo had “lost the locker room”. Combined with the Giants’ rookie coaching issues was a plethora of injuries. The Giants fell from Super Bowl hopefuls to the bottom of the NFC East. Now, enter in new head coach Pat Shurmur, who helped to turn the Vikings offense back into a top 10 scoring offense for the first time since 2009 when they finished 2nd. And speaking of 2nds, more importantly, the Giants drafted star running back Saquon Barkley 2nd overall in this past April’s draft. Add in a healthy Odell Beckham Jr to the mix, along with rookie standout TE Evan Engram entering his 2nd year, the Giants’ already impressive defensive unit looks like it now has the offensive fire-power to carry them back to the playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers (-180)
You need not over think this particular team scenario. If Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers will have a great chance to win double-digit games. Even with the departure of Jordy Nelson, the Pack have a solid #1 option in Davante Adams, who has posted back to back double digit TD seasons. Add in the newly acquired Jimmy Graham and veteran slot man Randall Cobb, the Packers offense should be among the best in 2018. On the defensive side, Clay Matthews and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are joined by FA acquisition Muhammad Wilkerson. The Packers defense will look to improve upon their 2017 season, where they ranked 7th worst in points allowed and 5th worst in forcing 4th down. All in all, the Packers look to be much improved heading into 2018, and with Aaron Rodgers calling plays, are likely to return to playoff football.
The Los Angeles Chargers (-150)
The Chargers will look to build on an impressive 9-7 finish to 2017. The defense that ranked 3rd best in points allowed last season will suffer a slight setback, losing CB Jason Verrett to a torn Achilles in late July. Rookie DB Derwin James (17th pick) will look to make an immediate impact in the secondary. On the D-line, Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa return to lead the defensive front that ranked 5th in sacks a season ago. On offense, Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon head a group that last year ranked 4th in yards per game. Plagued by too many injuries in 2017, the Chargers look healthy and ready to contend for a division title in 2018.
*Odds via The Westgate Superbook