While last season's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams featured the two teams favored to win their conference heading into the season, the NFL is no stranger to surprise participants in the big game.
Every year the playoff picture is seemingly scrambled, giving new teams opportunities to march their way to the Super Bowl in February. Last season alone, there were seven new teams in the playoffs that did not make it in the year prior.
The following teams all have playoff aspirations, and potentially more, in 2019. If you're looking to make a wager on which team will win the NFC next season, the odds are available on FanDuel Sportsbook. With that in mind, here are three dark horses that could win the 2019 NFC Championship this upcoming season.
3. San Francisco 49ers (+1600)
The San Francisco 49ers got plenty of preseason hype last year, and are receiving no shortage of buzz once again in 2019. The team went 4-12 in 2018, but is essentially getting a mulligan, due to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a torn ACL in Week 3. Jimmy G is fully expected to start in Week 1, and will have plenty of weapons at his disposal, led by star tight end George Kittle. The 49ers also made key additions to their defense, including the No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa and trading for Dee Ford, who racked up 13 sacks in 2018. The NFC West is no cakewalk, but San Francisco has the talent on both sides of the ball to make a serious postseason push in 2019.
2. Atlanta Falcons (+1400)
The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a disappointing 2018, in which they finished 7-9 and failed to make the playoffs. They are three seasons removed from their heartbreaking Super Bowl LI loss to the New England Patriots, but are primed for a rebound season that will rely on two key factors – improvements from the defense and offensive line. The Falcons will have a healthy Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, which will help a defense that was ravaged by injuries last season. Atlanta has also bulked up its offensive line, drafting two lineman in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and signing guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown in free agency. With a healthy defense, and a revamped offensive line, Atlanta could make some noise next season.
1. Green Bay Packers (+900)
There are few teams in the NFL with as much riding on the 2019 season as the Green Bay Packers. For starters, the team axed longtime head coach Mike McCarthy last December. The Packers new coach, Matt LeFleur, is viewed as an offensive guru and was likely brought in to maximize Aaron Rodgers' talent. On top of that, the team made major upgrades to the defense with the signings of Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos and Preston Smith. Green Bay has also improved its secondary in recent drafts, and if all of these moves pan out, Rodgers could very well be playing for his second Lombardi Trophy in February.
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