The 2021 NFL season has gotten off to a very exciting start, with a number of teams already exceeding plenty of the expectations they had coming into the season. And believe it or not, 11 of 16 teams in the AFC currently have a winning record. It’s been incredible to watch.

And for all the teams that get love as title contenders, there will always be those dark-horse teams. Below, we discuss three of them, taking a look at what could make them good enough to try and make the Super Bowl.

Quiet NFL Contenders

Los Angeles Chargers

Playing in a division where every team has a winning record through nine games is tough. That is the case for every team in both the AFC North and AFC West, and it has to mark some kind of history for this to be the case. How can all four squads just keep winning?

Anyway, the first team is the Chargers. They might not be a quiet contender, but in a way they are, because of how things are run differently. Brandon Staley has all the confidence in the world in his team and goes for pretty much every “manageable” fourth down. Punting the ball is not something that is really in his playbook.

Justin Herbert has been looking exceptional, while Austin Ekeler is continuing to run the ball well. They don’t have any flaws in the offense, besides the fact that Baltimore somehow held them to just six points. They got back to their good old selves this past week, and have enough talent to beat any team when they’re at their best.

New Orleans Saints

There are a lot of flaws within the Saints roster, and plenty of things have gone wrong for them this year. They are coming off a loss to the Falcons, which negated them from moving into a tie atop the division with the Bucs. But, they have a lot more than meets the eye.

They have Alvin Kamara playing quality football as he always does, and though they have some receivers out, they have made it work. The defense makes big plays. And yes, they sit at just 5-3. But the thing is, there are no “quiet” contenders in the NFC. They most closely fit the bill.

As long as Sean Payton is the one coaching this football team, good things can definitely happen. And when Jameis Winston gets back on the field, they will be ready.

Tennessee Titans

At 7-2, the Titans do not belong on this list. I will probably be chastised by those who read the header, and that’s fair. Considering the fact that they just dominated the Rams on the road, this may come as a bit of a surprise.

But, they cannot win every game when Derrick Henry isn’t out there. He is not coming back any time soon, and as cool as it is for Adrian Peterson to now be here, it means nothing to their RB room success. They need a big-name guy to come in. Who can handle things, and can put a hurt on tacklers like #22 was.

Ryan Tannehill can handle the offense without a hiccup. He is already stepping up as needed. But, it won’t be there every week. They have enough in the tank to win quality games. But winning in the playoffs without Henry seems tough. That’s why they are a “quiet” contender.

Stay with Knup Sports for more NFL news and previews!

+ posts

Sports Writer by day, Sports Broadcaster by night. When I’m not doing either of these things, I’m probably playing pickup basketball at the park, or watching whatever NBA game is on the evening’s slate. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t try and learn more about the players in today’s league, as well as the history of them. I’m considered to be an anomaly with my sports fandoms as a Cavaliers, Ravens and Nationals fan.