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Dark Horses for the 2024–25 Super Bowl

As the Kansas City Chiefs continue to celebrate their dramatic overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, our attention turns to the next Super Bowl. Last year’s NFL season reinforced the unpredictable nature of the sport, with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce once again proving their prowess on the biggest stage after a year filled with ups and downs. Yet, each new season brings fresh opportunities, potential upsets, and rising stars.

To no one’s surprise, teams like the Chiefs, 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Detroit Lions are the favorites to win Super Bowl LIX. However, we want to go outside the box, taking a look at five teams who could surprise everyone and be the last team standings in New Orleans on Feb. 9, 2025.

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have emerged as a strong contender for the 2025 Super Bowl, buoyed by their young star quarterback, C.J. Stroud. Stroud had a historic rookie season, helping the Texans clinch the division, make the playoffs, and secure a playoff victory—all unexpected outcomes given their prior standing. He also got some new weapons this past offseason when the team signed wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Joe Mixon. With Nico Collins and Tank Dell coming off incredible seasons, the Texans have one of the scariest wide-receiving groups in football.

Additionally, first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans revamped the defense, transforming it from the worst in rushing yards allowed in 2022 to the sixth-fewest in 2023. This defensive improvement, paired with Stroud’s offensive prowess, marks the Texans as a formidable team.

The AFC South, previously underestimated, now offers fierce competition, making the Texans’ rise even more noteworthy.

New York Jets

The New York Jets’ potential to win the 2025 Super Bowl could hinge on their ability to overcome their offensive woes. Despite a devastating injury to Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, the Jets’ defense proved to be top-tier, finishing third overall even without sufficient offensive support. This elite defensive unit is undoubtedly ready to contend, providing a solid foundation for the team.

The offense, however, needs significant improvement and is dependent on Rodgers staying healthy. While Nathaniel Hackett’s system remains under scrutiny, it’s built specifically for Rodgers, who historically thrives under pressure and skepticism. With a revamped offensive line and key players like Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson, the Jets have a fighting chance as long as Rodgers can stay on the field.

Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in 2023, finishing the season strong with a 7-1 record in their last eight games. Key players like Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams, Puka Nacua, and Cooper Kupp were instrumental, achieving a 6-2 record overall when playing together.

The Rams offense averaged 28.5 points and nearly 400 yards per game, indicating a formidable attack. While their defense showed potential, with three players recording eight sacks each, improvement is still necessary, especially after Aaron Donald announced his retirement.

The front office’s adept drafting skills suggest further enhancements are possible. Given their revitalized offense and emerging defensive talent, the Rams present a credible case for Super Bowl contention in 2025.

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons aren’t as far off from being a Super Bowl contender as some may think. In reality, poor quarterback play has handcuffed them in recent years, putting the defense in tough situations.

But the Falcons made a lot of changes this offseason. They signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract and drafted Michael Penix in the first round, a clear sign they want to turn their quarterback weakness into a strength immediately as well as long-term.

With Raheem Morris at the helm, there is a lot of hope that they will immediately improve defensively. Morris has a reputation as a great defensive coach, and the hope is he will get the most out of guys like A.J. Terrell, Grady Jarrett, and Zach Harrison. The team also added a lot of depth on defense in the draft, focusing their second, third, fourth, and fifth-round picks on that side of the ball.

The talent pool, including Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London, is impressive and primed for a breakout under new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson. Additionally, the relatively weak NFC South division works in the Falcons’ favor, making a Cinderella run entirely plausible if key pieces fall into place.

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers have faced an uphill battle in recent years, missing the playoffs in 2022 and struggling to make a deep postseason run in other seasons. However, there is optimism that 2024 could mark a turning point for the team.

The absence of Aaron Rodgers left a significant void, but Jordan Love has shown growth and potential to lead the Packers effectively. Inconsistent at the start of the season, Love found his rhythm as the year progressed, pointing to a promising trajectory for the future.

After losing Aaron Jones, the team added running back Josh Jacobs this past offseason. They are also hopeful that wide receiver Christian Watson can stay healthy, a crucial playmaker that makes the offense a lot stronger when he’s on the field. The NFC North, consisting of the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings, presents a competitive yet surmountable challenge.

Sportsbook odds reflect the Packers as underdogs, with futures odds around +1900, highlighting the difficulty but also the potential for a surprise run. They dominated the Cowboys on the road in the Wild Card round and went toe-to-toe with the 49ers in the Divisional round, coming up ever so short. This proves they can play with the top teams and aren’t far off. Despite being a long shot, the Packers’ known resilience and tactical adjustments could see them clinch a playoff spot and make an unexpected Super Bowl push.

Final Thoughts

Predicting Super Bowl winners this far out in advance is an exercise fraught with uncertainty, yet it remains an intriguing venture for both analysts and fans. All these teams may not be many experts’ top picks to win the Super Bowl, but they have the potential to sneak in there and surprise everyone. After all, who would have picked the Cincinnati Bengals to go from worst to first in the AFC three years ago or the Philadelphia Eagles to win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles over Tom Brady’s Patriots in 2017?

While numerous variables can influence the outcome of the 2024-25 Super Bowl, these five teams offer compelling narratives and intriguing potential. Only time will reveal the true contenders, but these early predictions allow us to speculate and anticipate another thrilling NFL season.

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