How Your Team Can Win Super Bowl 53: Making a Case for Every NFL Team
Published on July 10, 2018
July usually isn’t when you make lofty NFL predictions. Training camp isn’t here yet, and preseason football hasn’t even begun to enter our minds.
This is a time for fireworks, burgers, and the MLB All-Star break.
While that may be true, it’s really never too early to start believing your favorite NFL team has a chance. For many franchises, July might end up being the only time this year where you truly believe a Super Bowl run is possible.
Even the teams that have realistic Super Bowl 53 odds will look back at this point as the last moments where they thought to themselves, “yeah, we can do this.”
Still, prognostication takes no breaks, and it should ultimately know no bounds.
That’s really the heart of a bettor, too.
You need to be constantly evolving, whether you’re researching to tackle the latest NFL prop bet or trying to figure out who is this year’s version of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The NFL can disappoint, but it can also shock with the unexpected. For all of those “the Patriots are winning it all” guarantees, there is an Eagles fan somewhere saying, “I told you so.”
That isn’t always how a season of pro football shakes out, but the last few years have turned up unlikely playoff threats and a few Super Bowl participants nobody really saw coming.
Because of that, I take a look at how circumstances can align just right and give any team an opportunity to claim Super Bowl glory. I give you the 2018 edition of how your favorite team can win the Super Bowl.
Vegas likes them the most, for starters. New England opens the year as +625 favorites to win it all, and after getting there in three of the last four years, logic suggests they’re a pretty good bet to do it again.
New England fans aren’t just leaning on history, of course. The AFC East is a cakewalk, and the Steelers and Jaguars appear to be the only true threats to the Pats’ AFC crown.
One of those teams is likely to once again knock the other out, leaving the Patriots with just one stuff test on their road to vengeance after losing Super Bowl 52.
All of this sounds pretty good, while Tom Brady is an ageless fiend, Rob Gronkowski isn’t retiring, and Julian Edelman will be back by week five.
In short, New England will be as good as ever, and the collective knees of rest of the league are shaking.
Getting out of the AFC East alive won’t be easy, but the Jets (+10000) have an underrated defensive mind in head coach Todd Bowles.
New York took a step back on that side of the ball in 2017, but they’ll bounce back in 2018 and allow for a pedestrian offense to mature on the fly.
Free agent acquisition Isaiah Crowell’s burst and bruising mentality wasted away in Cleveland, but now he can mash in the Big Apple and take names.
That could allow Josh McCown all the time he needs to make good use of Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, while a neck injury won’t keep Quincy Enunwa from becoming the feel-good story of the year.
Miami looked lost under Jay Cutler’s direction in 2017, but they’ll be saved by the return of star quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Miffed over missing an entire year of football, Tannehill finally “gets it” and enjoys a career year as the Fins take back the AFC East.
The emergence of DeVante Parker is a big reason why, while Kenny Stills’ penchant for the deep ball opens up Miami’s passing game better than ever.
The real magic comes on the ground, where highlight-reel rusher Kenyan Drake puts it all together and carries this offense to the tune of 1,600 rushing yards.
Miami’s defense balances out and does just enough as offensive guru Adam Gase’s system finally has him living up to his “genius” billing.
The start of something real happened when the Bills finally kicked Tyrod Taylor to the curb, opening the door to career backup A.J. McCarron finally getting the shot he deserves.
McCarron thrives in Buffalo’s balanced offense, making great use of red-zone monster Kelvin Benjamin and turning second-year receiver Zay Jones into a star.
On the ground, LeSean McCoy keeps churning out big games as the centerpiece of one of the most underrated offenses in the NFL.
The Bills do just enough defensively to grit their way to the Super Bowl, where yet another Carson Wentz injury plays to their advantage in Super Bowl 53.
The Steelers are so close that they can taste it.
After narrowly losing in a shootout last year, the Yellow & Black make the necessary adjustments to effectively replace inside linebacker Ryan Shazier and beef up a struggling defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, nothing changes, and that’s totally fine.
Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers figure out his contract situation, and he returns to deliver another monster stat line.
Ben Roethlisberger continues to thrive in Pittsburgh’s offense, torching defenses with a lethal combo in Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster at his disposal.
The one thing holding this team back all along? An obvious rift between Big Ben and former offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
With Haley in Cleveland, the Steelers keep their eye on the prize, finally trump the Pats, and win their record seventh Lombardi Trophy.
The Ravens stay the course on defense as an aging but aggressive unit continues to keep them in games while bullying opponents.
Baltimore is forced to make a drastic change under center, however, as it becomes clear that aging passer Joe Flacco is no longer the answer.
Head coach John Harbaugh excitedly turns to raw rookie passer Lamar Jackson, who ends up being the dual-threat stud everyone else in the NFL feared he would be.
Jackson picks up where Michael Vick left off in his prime, dazzling his way to big numbers and the first ever Super Bowl win by a rookie quarterback.
The Bengals have always had the goods to make a title run.
Just two years ago, Andy Dalton was on his way to a potential MVP campaign before a thumb injury sent him to the sidelines and curbed Cincy’s Super Bowl hopes.
In 2018, Dalton stays on the field, and Tyler Eifert joins him as a woefully underrated Bengals passing game takes flight and becomes borderline unstoppable.
As if the Bengals airing it out wasn’t lethal enough, talented second-year running back Joe Mixon dominates the league and gives Cincy the offensive balance they’ve been lacking.
The Bengals remain gritty and experience defensively, backing an explosive offense all the way to the franchise’s first ever championship.
Hue Jackson was the man for the job all along. Despite one win in his first 32 games on the job, Jackson finally gets the roster he deserves and pushes the Browns to the top of the AFC North.
As it turns out, the Bills never fully unleashed Tyrod Taylor, and with a stacked offense featuring Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry, Cleveland’s passing game shocks the league.
Carlos Hyde and rookie Nick Chubb balance things out with an effective ground game, while Myles Garrett proves to be the menacing difference-maker the Browns drafted him to be.
With a balanced offense and a nasty defense, the Browns march to the Super Bowl, completing the most epic turnaround in sports history. Oh, and betting on the Browns at +6600 at Sportsbetting.ag pays out handsomely.
They’re already right there. Jalen Ramsey guaranteed a title last year, but this time, his words will actually manifest an elusive championship for the city of Jacksonville.
How? Leonard Fournette beasts out even more than he did during his rookie year, vying for the NFL’s single-season rushing yardage record while single-handedly carrying the Jags on offense.
He’s the yin to the Jacksonville defense’s yang, as Ramsey and company are as elite as ever and go to work early to prove last year was no fluke.
Everyone hangs this season on whether or not Blake Bortles can be the missing link, but in the end, it’s Cody Kessler who replaces him late in the year and does just enough to keep defenses honest.
They get healthy.
J.J. Watt finally stays on the field and challenges the single-season sack record again, Jadeveon Clowney is a nightmare on the other side, and Houston’s once-vaunted defense is as good as ever.
Deshaun Watson and D’Onta Foreman also return to full strength, working together to give Houston one of the most dynamic offenses in all of football.
DeAndre Hopkins finally has the talent around him to push his game to an even higher level, while Bill O’Brien finally has the roster that can get Houston deep into the playoffs.
Set up with a showdown with Bill Belichick and the Pats in the AFC title game, O’Brien outwits his master and gets Houston the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
Marcus Mariota gets his groove back.
After struggling immensely in 2017, Mariota is healthy again, getting his mojo back by forming a dominant passing attack with Corey Davis, Delanie Walker, and Dion Lewis.
Lewis helps out on the ground, too, while masher Derrick Henry haunts the league with his punishing style.
Defensive guru Mike Vrabel watches the offense soar to new heights but also makes his presence felt on defense.
With the Titans finally playing with more bite than bark, they get back to the Super Bowl for the second time ever and seal the deal.
Andrew Luck is back, baby.
Luck’s year away from football will bring concern and rust, but he’ll also play smarter than ever.
With a chip on his shoulder and seeking to make up for lost time, Luck puts up his best numbers yet en route to a title run.
Fortunately, Luck doesn’t have to do it all on his own. While his roster looks weak, T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle form a solid passing duo, while Indy’s stable of pedestrian running backs work together to create an efficient running game.
The real progress comes on defense, as Malik Hooker heads a maturing unit that wins a handful of games all on their own.
Perhaps it’s the lifted curse of Chuck Pagano’s presence.
Whatever the case, the horseshoe is back in the league’s good graces, securing their first title since the days of Peyton Manning.
The Alex Smith trade frees up Patrick Mahomes, and it works out swimmingly.
The only real issue in Kansas City is the rawness of Mahomes, but with a great system, awesome natural talent, and a slew of elite weapons, he thrives and succeeds where Smith could not.
Kareem Hunt helps him out by delivering an emphatic encore after a monster rookie season, while Kansas City’s erratic defense irons out their inconsistencies.
Already the class of the AFC West, Mahomes makes the Chiefs more explosive than ever, and there simply isn’t much the league can do to stop it.
Philip Rivers finally has the talent around him to win.
Not since the days of LaDainian Tomlinson has Rivers had an offense this stacked. Melvin Gordon paces a strong rushing attack, while Keenan Allen helps move the chains through the air.
Losing star tight end Hunter Henry hurts at first, but savvy veteran Antonio Gates returns home to help out, while second-year wide receiver Mike Williams blossoms into a stud red-zone presence.
The kicker is L.A.’s defense, where Joey Bosa heads a stacked unit that has yet to fully get the credit they deserve. After taking down Super Bowl 53, I reckon they will.
Jon Gruden is the difference-maker this team needed.
Lacking consistent direction under former head coach Jack Del Rio, the Raiders finally have a concise mission and execute as well as anyone in the league.
With an elite offensive mind in his corner, Derek Carr takes the next step in his development, making fantastic use of a star-studded receiving corps featuring Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant.
On the ground, Beast Mode is back, as Marshawn Lynch makes up for a pedestrian 2017 run and dominates the league.
It’s not just the Khalil Mack show on defense in Oakland, either.
The Raiders get more aggressive on that side of the ball, matching a staggering offense as Gruden brings home a championship in his first year back with the silver and black.
John Elway finally got his man when he signed quarterback Case Keenum.
Previously drowning behind shaky quarterback play, Denver is finally a threat on offense again.
Keenum makes great use of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, while the running game snaps back into action with rookie rusher Royce Freeman supplanting the struggling Devontae Booker.
The success of a balanced offense lifts the spirits of Denver’s defense, as Von Miller pairs with stud rookie pass rusher Bradley Chubb to form one of the most formidable pass rushes in the NFL.
After experiencing mild regression on defense in 2017, the Broncos are back in full force and get to a third Super Bowl under Elway’s direction.
Philly got even better than they were the last time we saw them.
All of the yikes, indeed.
The biggest argument for the Eagles is that they won Super Bowl 52 without star quarterback Carson Wentz (torn ACL), and he’ll be healthy to start 2018. With Wentz back under center, this is again one of the most dynamic and explosive offenses in the NFL.
It’s not just about Wentz, either. Mike Wallace was brought in to stretch the field, while Alshon Jeffery re-signed, and Zach Ertz can still dominate over the middle of the field and in the red zone.
Jay Ajayi leads a power running game that has a nice complement in Corey Clement, too, once again giving Philly the balance needed to light up any defense.
The Eagles also got better defensively, with Chris Long coming back and Michael Bennett being added to the defensive line.
Philly made their first ever title run look easy in the end, and their roster is even more stacked going into 2018. A repeat is 100% in the cards.
Wentz struggles to return to form, and the Eagles slide, opening up room for someone else to take over in the NFC East.
That ends up being Big D, as Dak Prescott benefits from no longer having to force passes to a selfish Dez Bryant, while Jason Witten’s exit promotes more explosiveness out of the tight end position.
The real solution for the Cowboys is relying on running back Ezekiel Elliott again. Now that his six-game ban is a thing of the past, he can return to feasting on NFL defenses and giving the ‘Boys one of the best rushing attacks the league has to offer.
Dallas will have to cover up some holes defensively, but they do have talent on that side of the ball. With Zeke keeping them fresh, the Cowboys are good enough there to coast through the division en route to a Super Bowl run.
Getting healthy is step one for the G-Men, who could dominate offensively with Odell Beckham Jr. returning to the field.
Eli Manning ends up carving out one of his best pro seasons yet, as Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and tight end Evan Engram form an unstoppable passing attack.
That’s all made possible due to a resurgent ground game fueled by #2 overall pick Saquon Barkley.
While Big Blue is a beast offensively, they also get healthy on defense and morph back into a competent unit on that side of the ball.
Ridding themselves of Ben McAdoo itself provides a huge lift as the Giants forget 2017 and pick up where they left off in 2016, marching to a third title under Manning’s watch.
The trade for Alex Smith is the missing link, as Smith continues to break free from his old “game-manager” mold and lights it up in Jay Gruden’s offense.
Jordan Reed actually stays healthy, Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder take turns dominating the slot, and Josh Doctson excels on the outside.
Overall, the Redskins have one of the most efficient passing games in the NFL, and D.C. fans don’t even remember that Kirk Cousins ever played here.
Derrius Guice may be this team’s meal ticket, however. The LSU stud wins the starting running back gig from day one and crushes the NFC East, carrying the Redskins all the way to the Super Bowl.
There, a now-punishing defense – led by Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan – helps Washington finally return to glory.
While the Redskins moved on from Captain Kirk, Cousins ends up being the pricey coup Minnesota pegged him as.
Cousins picks up where the pedestrian Case Keenum left off, taking Minnesota’s stacked offense to new heights. Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph blow the lid off of the league and easily win the NFC North.
Dalvin Cook returns successfully from a knee injury to shred the NFC, while the Vikings’ stingy defense remains as nasty as ever.
In a Super Bowl or bust year, the Vikes finally answer the call and win their first NFL title.
Aaron Rodgers is actually healthy, and the Packers (gulp) are good defensively.
The absence of Jordy Nelson is actually a good thing, as he was rapidly slowing down. Instead, Green Bay invested in Davante Adams and brought in a slew of rookie wide receivers, while also signing stud tight end Jimmy Graham.
That gives A-Rod his best supporting cast yet, as he marches into 2018 with a massive chip on his shoulder.
Ty Montgomery is also back to head a three-man running game, while Mike Pettine takes over a defense long overdue for a facelift.
Pettine’s arrival sparks incredible improvement, as rookie corners Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson pan out immediately and star defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson makes Green Bay’s front line the best in the NFL.
With a better defense and an explosive arsenal around him, Rodgers does what Brett Favre could never do – get the Packers a second title.
Matthew Stafford finally gets the help he needs, and Matt Patricia takes his Super Bowl experience to Detroit as the Lions make it to (and win) the Super Bowl for the first time ever.
The key is always going to be Stafford, who pulls up in the clutch time and time again with breakout star Kenny Golladay rounding out a dynamic passing game.
Detroit also finally establishes the run, as veteran masher LeGarrette Blount leads a resurgent effort to balance the offense.
Defensively, you can feel Patricia’s imprint all over the defense, while Ziggy Ansah lives up to the hype with a 20-sack campaign.
It all adds up to the most unlikely of title runs, yet most would admit the talent was there all along for the Lions to take over the league.
The Bears copy Philly’s blueprint for winning, as Matt Nagy comes to town and turns Mitchell Trubisky into this year’s Carson Wentz.
A solid dual-threat talent, Trubisky tears up the league with his legs and his arm, exploiting major mismatches with Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and rookie Anthony Miller to work with.
He’s aided by a dynamic running game featuring Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, while an underrated Bears defense channels the Brian Urlacher years and gets this team back to the league’s title game.
Drew Brees is still one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league, and he turns back the clock to slice up the NFL once more.
Michael Thomas has the best year of his young career in the process, while Alvin Kamara further develops into one of the NFL’s most dangerous offensive weapons.
Initially held back by a four-game ban, Mark Ingram returns with a vengeance, giving the Saints arguably the nastiest running game in the entire league.
Defensively, the Saints avoid a big drop-off and remain a relatively tough matchup every week out.
It’s all about Brees and a balanced offense, though, as the Saints erase the nasty memory of the Minnesota Miracle and punch their ticket to a second Super Bowl in the Sean Payton era.
Everyone keeps underrating Cam Newton, so he beasts out with one of the greatest dual-threat seasons in NFL history en route to another Panthers Super Bowl run.
Call it unfinished business, but Newton rushes for 10 touchdowns and passes for 30 more, as he’s got one of the most dynamic offenses he’s ever seen.
Greg Olsen remains a steady option at tight end, Torrey Smith stretches the field, and rookie D.J. Moore develops into the stud Carolina once hoped Kelvin Benjamin would become.
Carolina’s defense gives them the edge they always need, while running back Christian McCaffrey packs on some muscle and takes over the league, much like he did in the college game at Stanford.
Now over a year removed from a horrendous collapse in Super Bowl 51, the Falcons storm back and finish the job they started, this time obliterating the Patriots in Super Bowl 53.
It’s all possible because Matt Ryan is better than you think he is, nobody wants to see an angry Julio Jones, and Atlanta has two very capable running backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Everyone knows the Falcons can make heads roll offensively, but it’s Dan Quinn’s defense that finally rises the ranks and dominates the league.
After taking a small step back in 2017, Atlanta forms one of the most lethal pass rushes behind Vic Beasley and gives the Falcons a monster defense behind one of the most explosive offenses the NFL has to offer.
Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension and roasts the league, determined to make up for past wrongs and lost time.
A ferocious leader, Winston has the weapons to make it happen, as Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and O.J. Howard give him a deadly arsenal in an improved passing attack.
On the ground, Ronald Jones ends up being one of the biggest steals of the 2018 NFL Draft, as he wins the starting running back gig and balances out Tampa Bay’s offense with a strong ground game.
The Bucs still aren’t elite defensively, but adding Jason Pierre-Paul boosts their pass rush enough to make them competent on that end of the field.
Overall, this is all about Winston, who is a mad man possessed as he tries to distance himself from an ugly image created by his own doing.
They got so close last year and come back to finish the job. Sean McVay’s absurd one-year turnaround continues on, as he keeps feeding new life into Jared Goff and an absolutely stacked option.
The trade for Brandin Cooks makes Goff and L.A.’s passing attack even deadlier, while nobody can stop Todd Gurley on the ground.
It’s not all about offense for arguably the most loaded team in the NFL, though. Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters aren’t just names, as they help one of the best defenses in the league get even stronger.
The Rams looked like a title threat a year ago, and they got reinforcements, propelling them to their second-ever championship.
Russell Wilson remains one of the most dangerous quarterbacks outside of the pocket, while Pete Carroll isn’t done competing for championships.
The two work together to create an even better offense, while Doug Baldwin enjoys the best season of his career. With Seattle’s passing game thriving, Chris Carson doesn’t feel the pressure and lifts a previously dormant ground game.
The Seahawks lose a slew of veteran defensive talent but have the depth and overall talent needed to bounce back from a mild 2017 regression.
Overall, the Seahawks have the heart of a champion and rise up late in the year when everyone foolishly has them counted out.
Sam Bradford finally stays healthy, teaming up with Larry Fitzgerald to work the magic Carson Palmer just couldn’t figure out in the desert.
On the ground, stud rusher David Johnson returns to prominence after missing 15 games a year ago. DJ pieces together the coveted 2x 1,000-yard campaign, literally doing it all as Arizona’s offense leads the league in total yardage.
Defensively, the Cardinals aren’t as dominant as they once were, but they’re aggressive and opportunistic.
With Johnson dominating games and Bradford staying on his feet, Arizona surprises with the NFC West crown and blows teams out on the way to the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl win.
Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal, and Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system takes off in year two.
With Jimmy G locked in and the rest of the Niners fully buying in, San Francisco answers the hype calls and marches all the way to the Super Bowl.
That’s made possible due to the addition of versatile running back Jerick McKinnon, who responds to all of the hype with by far his best season as a pro.
San Francisco’s defensive talent finally plays up to their ability, too, with young stars like Reuben Foster, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas and the veteran Richard Sherman combining to form the NFL’s best overall unit.
Thanks to balance and a brilliant system, the Niners get to Super Bowl 53 and make up for Shanny’s boneheaded Super Bowl 51 calls with a blowout win.
Ultimately, this is just a fun stroll down the road of possibilities.
Not every team can enjoy epic 2018 seasons, and in the end, just one can actually hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
I find it hard to believe that won’t be the Patriots in the end, but it sure is nice to dream of the upside of every NFL team, assuming star players don’t get hurt and everyone plays to their potential.