[WATCH] ‘Dancing with the Stars’: Calvin Johnson’s ‘Eras Night’ jive could make him dark horse to win

Football player Calvin Johnson finished on top of the judges leaderboard during “Eras Night” on “Dancing with the Stars,” tied with race car driver James Hinchcliffe. A big part of that success was his 1950s-themed jive with pro partner Lindsay Arnold, which earned him straight nines from the panel of judges (watch above). Should we now consider him a major dark horse contender to win season 23?

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Johnson’s jive scores were combined with the numbers for his equally stellar team dance with Hinchcliffe, Maureen McCormick and Ryan Lochte. That put him and Hinchcliffe on top with a total of 74 out of 80. But while Hinchcliffe has recently been putting pressure on frontrunner Laurie Hernandez in our “DWTS” racetrack odds, Johnson is still an underdog. Are we underestimating him?

This was Johnson’s second high score of the season, following his triumphant Viennese waltz on “Face-Off Night.” So far he, Hinchcliffe and Hernandez are the only contestants to have topped the leaderboard more than once. Besides them, country singer Jana Kramer is the only other contestan to get a high score, thanks to her steamy Argentine tango on “Latin Night.”

What’s more, Johnson is the latest in a string of professional football players to excell on “DWTS.” Three football players have won the Mirror Ball Trophy in the past, making it the most represented athletic field among the show’s champions. Emmitt Smith won season three, followed by Hines Ward in season 12 and Donald Driver in season 14. Those are some big shoes to fill, but Johnson is six-foot-five and weighs 235 pounds, so he  doesn’t look like he has any trouble filling big shoes.

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Do you think Johnson could upset Hernandez and Hinchcliffe to win the Mirror Ball Trophy? Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate, bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Our racetrack odds change as you make your predictions, just as they do when you bet on the Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes and more. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “Dancing with the Stars” in our reality TV forum.

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