NBC News features North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race among five potential election surprises that could help determine which major party controls the chamber after the November election.

The NBCNews.com headline declares “Senate wild cards: Five sleeper races that could surprise in 2022.”

“Every election tends to produce some surprises. With one-third of Senate seats coming before voters this fall, there are numerous contests that have perhaps flown too far under the radar for some but that analysts say could yield potential upsets,” wrote Sahil Kapur.

With each major party controlling 50 seats today, a net gain of one on either side would amount to a major shift in power.

“Republicans are favored to win North Carolina, but only slightly,” Kapur wrote. “Polls have shown a neck-and-neck race for months in the battle between GOP candidate Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley for the open seat vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican.”

“Recent surveys show Budd leading by an average of 2 to 3 points, often within the margin of error,” Kapur added. “This is tighter than in several other races that are more closely watched and seen as ultra-competitive. Both candidates have kept a relatively low profile and avoided attention-seeking moves to make a national splash.”

“Budd is favored in a reddish yet purple state that hasn’t voted Democratic statewide for federal office since 2008, although the party has come close on numerous occasions, which is giving some party leaders hope of an upset victory in 2022,” he wrote.

Kapur notes that the Cook Political Report labels North Carolina’s U.S. Senate contest a “lean Republican” race.

Other races on the NBC News list of potential surprises are the Utah contest between incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee and independent Evan McMullin, the Colorado race pitting Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet against Republican Joe O’Dea, Iowa’s election featuring incumbent Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic challenger Mike Franken, and the Washington battle between incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley.

Budd secured good news last week when an East Carolina University poll showed him leading Beasley by six percentage points.

The Beasley/Budd race is the highest-profile contest on the ballot as early voting continues in North Carolina. Election Day is Nov. 8.