Three Dark Horses for Super Bowl LVI
Though it doesn’t happen often, underdog wins at the Super Bowl are the most exciting possibility at the start of each season.
Think back to Brady’s days with the Patriots—though the team’s talent couldn’t be questioned, their dominance was one of the most infuriating parts of being a football fan in the 2000s because it made many Super Bowls boring.
With the exception of the 28-3 Falcons incident of 2017 and the Chiefs’ 2020 fourth-quarter comeback against the 49ers, the last string of Super Bowls have been predictable affairs. In fact, it’s been that way since the first championship game was played in 1967.
There’s typically a clear winner and loser—and they usually follow from the previous year. Though it’s incredibly rare for a franchise to win Super Bowls back-to-back (the Patriots were the last to do it in 2003-4), most Super Bowl betting odds repeat names from recent championship appearances.
This year’s odds favor the Chiefs, followed by the Buccaneers and the Bills. Though many have their eyes on Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady to see what the future holds for the NFL’s best quarterbacks, others are busy searching for a close underdog that could upset Mahomes, Brady, and Josh Allen.
According to pundits, the Rams, 49ers, and Packers are all in a position to potentially upset the current rankings.
Los Angeles Rams
After a tenuous switch from Saint Louis to Los Angeles, the LA Rams looked poised to snatch their first Super Bowl win on the West Coast early in 2018. Head coach Sean McVay wasn’t able to lead the Rams to a 2018 victory, but he’s since built a tough roster where quarterback Matthew Stafford looks comfortable.
The Rams' late-season offense will provide key clues to their Super Bowl readiness, but there’s been an undeniable build-up under McVay. Coupled with a strong defense that was bolstered by solid moves in the offseason, and the Rams are looking at a clear playoff run—though they’ll have to battle with the 49ers to make it out of the NFC West as first seed.
San Francisco 49ers
The last few years have been tough for the 49ers. Their 2020 Super Bowl push ended in the following season due to a string of injuries that head coach Kyle Shanahan (and John Lynch) hasn’t quite been able to deal with… until this year. After a brutal run in the 2020-21 season, the 49ers roster is back in action thanks to draft picks from the team’s poor 2020-21 record.
Shanahan made smart moves at the Draft, nabbing quarterback Trey Lance in the process. So far, the 49ers have performed well in the NFC West and are projected to lead the division. However, this will depend on Lance’s progress and whether he’s able to support Jimmy Garoppolo as the season progresses. Not every pundit is convinced that meaningful and lasting change will take place on the field for the 49ers this season, with some contending that the San Francisco team will be more of a threat in the coming years with Lance.
Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Packers are one of the most-watched teams every season. Despite the quarterback’s talent and tenure with the Packers, he’s only managed to bring home a Super Bowl title once (2011). Pundits hold their breath each year waiting for a miracle in Green Bay
Even so, Rodgers and newcomer Jordan Love have the odds stacked against them this year. In addition to rumored ongoing friction between Rodgers and staff, the Packers have one of the toughest schedules in the league. The team’s performance midseason will be a key indicator if they can push for another NFC championship appearance and finally make another Super Bowl run.