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2021 Non-Playoff Teams That Could Make NFL Postseason in 2022

  • Keith Sanchez
  • May 18, 2022
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The NFL released its schedule for the 2022 season last week and for fans especially, this is always the most hopeful time of the year. Every team has a chance and every team is 0-0. Fans run many simulations in their heads of how their team could potentially find a path to the playoffs.  For fans of obvious Super Bowl contending teams like the Bills, Buccaneers, Chiefs and Rams, this may be old news by now. But for fans of teams who are fringe playoff teams, a schedule can make or break your season. Great parity exists across the NFL, which is a big part of why there are teams every year that just miss the cutoff but get over that hump the very next season. Combining strength of schedule, draft classes and offseason free agent acquisitions, I came up with four that didn’t make the playoffs last year that have potential to be key contenders in their respective conferences in 2022.


Baltimore Ravens

Last year, the Ravens were decimated by injuries that started as early as training camp when they lost running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. During the season, they also lost All=Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley and a bevy of defensive players, including starting corners Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith. With all of those injuries, they still managed to finish stay true to the Baltimore Raven culture and stay competitive down the stretch of the season but the injuries were just too much to overcome to make a playoff run.

This season, the expectation is for everyone to return healthy, along with key offseason acquisitions that were focused on improving this defense. They also made some offensive acquisitions that are more suitable to Lamar Jacksons skillset. Like usual, I fully expect the AFC North to be a tough division but with the Browns and Steelers still having questions surrounding there quarterback position, the door is open. I know the Bengals made a Super Bowl run last year but their regular season record was only 10-7 showing that this is still a team that needs improvement.  The Ravens strength of schedule is towards the bottom of the NFL, which means they have a fairly easy go of it overall and they have some of their toughest opponents at home. That’s a great scenario for a team to put together a very successful season.

2021 Season Record: 8-9

Toughest home games:  Bills, Broncos, Steelers

Toughest away games: Steelers, Saints, Buccaneers

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins front office/ownership issues were well documented this past year. But it seems that they are doing everything possible to try and change that narrative moving forward. The Dolphins spent this offseason being aggressive, trading for wide receiver Tyreek Hill and signing Pro Bowl offensive tackle Terron Armstead. This helps fill some massive holes and should help third year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa be successful. Also newly hired Head Coach Mike McDaniel comes from a system that just simply knows how to keep defenses off balance and has historically done more with less.

Defensively, the Dolphins played well last year and look to build on that for this upcoming year. It means that Miami seems to finally have a competitive roster on both sides of the football. While that roster is the main reason I think they’re contenders is the division that they play in, there still seems to be a clear separation of the Bills and then everyone else. The Jets and Patriots are going through the process of finding an identity offensively while continuing to lack offensive weapons. That leaves the Dolphins as what I believe to be the clear number two team in the division and have a real shot at making the playoffs and possible playoff run.

2021 Season Record: 9-8

Toughest home games: Steelers, Packers, Browns

Toughest away games:  Bills, Ravens, Chargers


Minnesota Vikings

Over the past few years, the Minnesota Vikings have been known as the second-best team in the NFC North behind the Green Bay Packers. But this year I think things can change.

The Packers did what the Packers do and drafted defensive players in the first round, neglecting to find quarterback Aaron Rodgers a proven playmaker, or a rookie that can be an impact starter from week one.  The Lions and Bears are… well… the Lions and Bears, to say the least. So, with the Packers question marks offensively, the Vikings may have a true path to becoming the number one team in the division.

The Vikings have plenty of offensive fire power with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen leading the receiving attack, and running back Dalvin Cook being a true all-purpose back both running the football and catching the ball out of the backfield. The question mark for the Vikings is on defense but Minnesota has made moves, signing free agents Za’darius Smith and Harrison Smith, while also drafting rookies Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr. and Brian Asamoah, all of which I expect to help this defense show much improvement from last year. The offseason acquisitions, combined with a low strength of schedule gives me reason to believe that the Vikings can be a dark horse contender in the NFC.

2021 Season Record 8-9

Toughest home games: Cardinals, Cowboys, Colts

Toughest away games:  Saints, Bills, Packers

New Orleans Saints

Post Head Coach Sean Payton, many people in the NFL community thought the New Orleans Saints would look towards a rebuild. But General Manager Mickey Loomis had other plans.

Instead, the Saints were aggressive in the draft, trading up to get a second first-round pick giving them two in the first round to fill holes at receiver and offensive tackle. Then the Saints followed the draft with a couple big-name offseason signings in safety Tyrann Mathieu and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. These signings seem to be the finishing touches on what looks to be a complete roster now both offensively and defensively.

Within their division, the Saints have to worry about a talented Tampa Bay team that may be seeking revenge after the Saints beat them twice last year. But other than that, this division is fairly weak with Carolina and Atlanta both having big question marks at the quarterback position. Unlike the rest of the teams listed on here, the Saints’ strength of schedule is in the top third of the NFL but I’m banking on their talented roster. Talent always wins out. And they should enter the playoffs as a battle-tested and talented team in the NFC.

2021 Season Record: 9-8

Toughest home games: Raiders, Ravens, Rams

Toughest away game: Cardinals, Steelers, 49ers