Dark-horse Super Bowl teams

Among non-playoff teams from last year, Jets and Panthers could surprise

Updated: September 3, 2012, 1:34 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Rex RyanEd Mulholland/US PresswireRex Ryan is canning the bold predictions this season, and his Jets could finally benefit.

In most years, the Super Bowl is won by teams that made the playoffs in the prior campaign, as there have been only 11 cases in which teams went from not making the playoffs one year to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy the next.

While the chances of that happening this season aren't great, it should be noted this has happened six times in the past 13 seasons, so it is becoming more common of late.

There are a couple of teams that did not make the playoffs in 2011 that are already being touted as either divisional favorites (Philadelphia Eagles) or somewhat under-the-radar Super Bowl contenders (Chicago Bears) that would seem to be good candidates for making it seven teams in the past 14 seasons.

But let's take this one step further by looking at three teams that would truly fit the dark-horse label if they won the Super Bowl this season. Again, these aren't favorites, just teams that fit the profile.

New York Jets