With the 2021 season just about to kick off, fan bases for all 32 NFL teams are brimming with unbridled optimism about their teams. The reality is, most franchises will end the year disappointed, but several sleepers stand out as clubs worth backing to vastly exceed consensus expectations.

Here’s a look at five legitimate sleeper NFL teams who, if things break the right way, have the chance to stun everyone in pro football this year, with odds to make the playoffs courtesy of DraftKings.

 

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick is probably pretty tired of hearing about how great Tom Brady is without him, and how TB12 won their split in a runaway after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl LV win.

Belichick came off a 7-9 record last season and proceeded to go on an absolute spending spree in free agency. The New England Patriots’ pass-catchers have been upgraded in a big way, and following the draft, Brady’s official heir apparent, Mac Jones, arrived and beat out Cam Newton for the starting job in training camp.

By all accounts, Jones’ elite football IQ and accuracy have wowed the Patriots. He’s fully ready to be a starter, or so it seems. If Jones proves to be as good as advertised, and Belichick’s defense plays to its typical high standard, not only will New England challenge for a playoff spot, but the Pats could be a legitimately dangerous postseason team.

 

Atlanta Falcons

One of the most overlooked, underrated and brilliant coaching moves of the offseason came from the Atlanta Falcons.

As great as it is to give Falcons QB Matt Ryan his first-ever offensive-minded head coach in Arthur Smith, the big change of note was the hiring of defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

Lured out of retirement by Smith due to their shared connection from Tennessee, Pees is an exotic defensive schemer who can bring simulated pressure and exotic blitzes with the best of them. Atlanta’s perpetually maligned pass rush needs someone like Pees to shake things up and confuse opponents.