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Three Underdogs to Make the NFL Playoffs in 2021

The Kansas City Chiefs are the favorite to win the 2022 NFL Super Bowl with Green Bay and reigning champion Tampa Bay in the mix.

Another market bettors should look to get in on is teams to make the playoffs. There are several options at plus-money where bettors can cash in. Last season, Cleveland made it to the postseason for the first time since 2002 and they actually won a playoff game.

Is there another Cleveland in 2021? Here are three underdogs to make the NFL playoffs in 2021.

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers Make the Playoffs in 2021?

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Preview

Best Bet: Yes (+135)

If you’re the betting public, you’re believing all the hype about how Pittsburgh won 11 straight to open the 2020 season and then lost five of its last six games, including the wild card playoff game to Cleveland.

Somehow, that is supposed to carry over and cause Pittsburgh to miss the postseason in 2021. Since taking over as the Steelers’ head coach in 2007, Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have missed the postseason just five times under Tomlin.

What will keep Pittsburgh in games this season is its defense. The Steelers finished third in the NFL in both total defense and scoring defense. They lose pass rusher Bud Dupree but get LB Devin Bush back from a season-ending injury.

Ben Roethlisberger will be 39, but he is still productive and the offense has plenty of weapons. The Steelers do have to figure out how to run the football though. They were last in the NFL a year ago in rushing.

Still, you have to like the Steelers’ chances. Pittsburgh has averaged 10 wins per season under Tomlin and that should be enough to gain a playoff berth – even with an extra game – in 2021.

Will the Miami Dolphins Make the Playoffs in 2021?

Miami Dolphins Team Preview

Best Bet: Yes (+135)

The Dolphins came up just shy of a playoff spot in 2020. Head coach Brian Flores did lead Miami to a 10- 6 record, but Miami missed out on a wild card berth.

The Dolphins should find themselves in the postseason this year with one of the league’s best young defenses and a quarterback – Tua Tagovailoa – that is on the rise. Like Pittsburgh, Miami needs to find a way to run the football, but they still managed 10 wins last year despite rushing for 105.5 yards a game (22nd in the NFL).

The draft should add a few more weapons on both sides of the ball making Miami a solid plus-money pick to make the postseason.

Will the San Francisco 49ers Make the Playoffs in 2021?

San Francisco 49ers Team Preview

Best Bet: Yes (+125)

The final underdog pick to make the playoffs came down to the 49ers and the Cardinals. Both are in the ultra-competitive NFC West. With Seattle and the L.A. Rams virtual locks to make the playoffs, it came down to a choice between San Francisco and Arizona.

Ultimately, defense trumps offense and that’s why the 49ers are the better plus-money choice. San Francisco was a top-5 defensive unit against the pass and in total defense. And, they were missing some key components of that defense including 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa who tore an ACL in Week 2 last season.

The 49ers are likely to draft a quarterback with their first pick of this year’s draft. Whether it’s a rookie or Jimmy Garoppolo under center, the 49ers will make the playoffs with a strong running game that allows for a strong play-action pass game and a championship-caliber defense.

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.