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Ranking the 12 NFL Teams That Could Win Their First Super Bowl in 2022
Winning a Super Bowl is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for players, coaches, fans, and anybody associated with their franchise. Even getting there is nearly impossible for most franchises these days.
Professional sports have a ton of fluidity with star players and coaches. Some franchises seem cursed, and others receive endless opportunities for success.
If you’re wondering how many teams have never won a Super Bowl, I’ll help you out; it’s 12. Four have never even been there – and they’re part of the list – but a third of the league has yet to finish the job.
Every season brings the chance to change that, and all 12 teams will hope they can make Super Bowl 56 their first.
With that, let’s rank the 12 NFL teams most likely to win their first Super Bowl in 2022.
12. Houston Texans (Never Appeared)
The Texans are one of the newer franchises, so I cannot bust their chops too much. They have had four chances at reaching the AFC championship, and they fell short in all of their attempts.
Going back to 2011, they are 4-6 in the postseason. Those second-round losses have been to New England twice, Baltimore and Kansas City. Those are three of the top five favorites in the AFC from the last decade. Many argue those are the premier squads other than Pittsburgh.
Getting to the Divisional round is difficult. Sadly, the Texans are a far way away from getting back to that stage as a franchise.
Deshaun Watson has a ton of frustration after getting rid of all his favorite weapons. Getting rid of JJ Watt on the defensive end is one issue, but trading DeAndre Hopkins away was a crime. Hopkins has been one of the few elite wide receivers in the last decade. Hopkins has perhaps the best catch radius in the NFL, and it is great to see him continue his career with Arizona.
Mr. Watson wishes he still had stars on his team. He wants the same confidence that the franchise once had. Watson enters 2021 with his third different head coach as a Texan, and seems destined to be traded out of town.
Times are tough right now, and the experts believe they are the worst team in football entering 2021. Houston has a win total of 4, the lowest among all NFL teams.
Part of any good NFL season win total betting strategy is seeing where a team has been, and where it’s going.
The road ahead could be a long one if Watson does not play much longer for the franchise. He is a valuable piece, and the hope is they can keep him happy and start to rebuild around him. If not, buckle up for a bumpy season ahead.
11. Detroit Lions (Never Appeared)
The poor Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991 against the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round. Fast forward to nine straight losses, and the Motor City has been tough to watch football these days. The franchise has gone through ten different head coaches since Wayne Fontes coached (1989-96).
Coach No. 11 will be Dan Campbell, and the expectations are not high. His introductory press conference toed the line between energetic and gimmicky.
Having gone 23-40 over the last four seasons, the Lions are hopeful the future will be successful. Defining success usually starts with playoff appearances.
The Lions have been abysmal over the years, and winning a handful of games would be considered tremendous. If you asked anybody, there is a strong chance they will receive the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Trading away Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff with some draft capital was tough to watch. Stafford was the heart-and-soul of the franchise, and they never helped him out recently. Losing Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh over the years left a mark. Kenny Golladay was not healthy, but he is no longer there, either. The team is running out of options of players to pull for as fans. D’Andre Swift is one of the few young pieces they have left.
Swift should be a solid running back in the near future. The offense line looks decent, but the wide receivers may struggle with Goff. The opposition will load the box up and beg Goff to beat them through the air with inconsistent weapons.
The schedule is one of the more difficult slates. Many experts in the desert think it is going to be a long season. Most NFL betting sites have the Detroit win total set at 4.5. Even that seems a tad high, but it should be a struggle just to get a few wins.
The future looks rough, and they may take a star quarterback in the draft as soon as 2022. Until we know who is leading them to relevancy, it is tough to take them seriously at this moment in time.
10. Atlanta Falcons (0-2 in Super Bowls)
The Falcons came close to winning it all in 2016. The ATL had a 28-3 lead, and the rest was history. Tom Brady happened, but so did an epic collapse on both sides of the ball.
The defense has since gotten significantly worse. They exited their Divisional matchup against Philadelphia the following season. That came after a victory in the Wild Card over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Falcons have lacked a run game due to a pedestrian offensive line. They were dominant when Alex Mack was leading the way against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Now, the pieces have fallen apart, and the days of Michael Turner, Tevin Coleman, and Devonta Freeman are all over.
Mike Davis signed to help stop the bleeding, but he is more of a pass-catching back that lacks the explosive plays on the ground. Matt Ryan will be in trouble when pressure comes calling. The NFC South has solid defensive players in the trenches. That is one of the reasons why we have seen them struggle so much. This team must be relevant at the line of scrimmage, or else they will continue to get embarrassed on Sundays.
Three straight losing seasons is such a fall from grace. The 4-12 season last year was a reality check to the franchise. Julio Jones wanted out after an injury-riddled and frustrating season.
Calvin Ridley was a star number one option to Ryan in the passing game, so the production should remain solid among those two.
Airing it out has never been an issue for Ryan and the Falcons. Their lack of balance has cost the offense. The lack of any run game has put their defense in jeopardy. They gagged away a few games last season down the stretch, and losing to the Detroit Lions was disastrous.
They have been whiffing in free agency and have not done their homework during NFL Draft preparation. AJ Terrell, Avery Williams, and Isiah Oliver will need to play out of their minds. Williams has yet to play a snap in the NFL, and Terrell had his fair share of struggles. The entire secondary was exposed. Somebody is going to need to step up.
If this franchise wants to avoid another season with double-digit losses, they will need to play keep away on offense, and pray the defense plays with a purpose. It could be a while before they get back to playing relevant football in January.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2 in Super Bowls)
The Bengals have appeared in a pair of Super Bowls, and the hope is that their current franchise signal-caller Joe Burrow can lead them back for some unfinished business.
2015 was the last postseason appearance for the Bengals. It has been 32 seasons since their last Super Bowl trip, which was way back in 1988. Joe Montana and the 49ers had that final clutch drive with Jerry Rice and John Taylor. That possession still bugs all loyal Bengal fans.
Cincinnati looked poised to break through back in 2005 before an injury to Carson Palmer riddled the team during the game. Pittsburgh ended up winning that game and eventually would win the Super Bowl. That is how tough it has been on the Bengals. Even when they look like they are about to accomplish something major, their fun gets cut short soon after.
The franchise has lost eight straight playoff games dating back to 1990. Their 1990 Wild Card victory over the Houston Oilers was their last victory in the postseason. Boomer Esiason got the job done with Ickey Woods in the backfield, and the rest of these seasons have been tumultuous.
The Bengals have the unfortunate news of being in the AFC North. The Ravens, Browns, and Steelers are the trio of teams that will make it tough to compete. Pittsburgh has been one of the top AFC teams going back to the playoff woes of Cincinnati in 1990.
The Ravens under John Harbaugh have been a consistent playoff threat, and now the Browns look similar under Kevin Stefanski. This division is the toughest in the entire AFC, and the future will be dictated by how well Joe Burrow develops. He suffered a season-ending knee injury due to a lack of protection from the offensive line.
They passed on adding a first-round tackle and instead went with a former teammate of Burrow.
In case you haven’t heard, Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow are back together https://t.co/265amRDy60— Cincy Jungle (@CincyJungle) July 8, 2021
Ja’Marr Chase was more talented than Justin Jefferson was at LSU, and many will argue he has the skills to make the Bengals offense unstoppable. Chase was catching the ball like a monster.
For college standards, he flashed Randy Moss-like talents. Chase was beating defensive backs like a drum. The road trip to Texas two seasons ago was impressive, but he went bonkers against Clemson in the 2020 national championship.
Check out this gaudy stat line.
- 9 receptions
- 221 receiving yards
- 2 touchdowns
He ended his final season in Baton Rouge with a whopping 23 touchdowns on 107 grabs.
Tee Higgins had a solid rookie season last year, and he should make improvements to be an impactful performer down the field. Tyler Boyd has been the underneath target the past few seasons for the Bengals. Add these three together, and this is a capable offense that can contend with the rest of the AFC North competition.
The offense will be at its best if they have a relevant run game. Joe Mixon is the type of player that needs to play well for the Bengals to make improvements. He missed ten games last season (knee) and was effective when he did play. He can break tackles due to his strength, and his speed is respectable enough to keep defenders honest.
Mixon has two seasons of 1,110-plus yards, and the best is yet to come. With an extra game on the schedule, this could be the best year of his career coming up. He managed to catch 21 of his 26 targets in limited action. His ability to help the team in the passing attack gives Burrow four reliable pass-catchers.
Chase, Higgins, Boyd, and Mixon could play for almost anybody. Burrow should soon be a star in fantasy football and brings upside to the Bengals franchise as a strong youngster that can throw dots.
The defense has not been dominant, but certainly, they have room to become more relevant. The offseason addition of Trey Hendrickson will help their pass-rushing struggles. If a corner can remotely develop into an elite candidate, the franchise could turn the corner.
A struggling and miserable organization these days, the Bengals will gladly take more wins as they will soon come.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (Never Appeared)
Jacksonville has not had a winning season in 12 of their last 13 seasons. Their lone playoff appearance in 2017 was a magical postseason that saw them come close to dethroning New England in the AFC Championship.
The franchise has appeared in 14 postseason games, and they have won half of them. They have had underrated defenses and enough pieces on offense to manage once they have reached the postseason. The issue has been getting there.
Blake Bortles was the quarterback back then, and they now have a new sheriff in town.
Trevor Lawrence was a superstar at Clemson, winning the biggest of games under the brightest of lights. Lawrence instantly becomes the franchise piece for a team that has lacked consistency.
Another reason for excitement is that he played for a college Hall of Fame (future) coach. Urban Meyer has been a winner for a long time, and he has the goods to find success in the NFL.
Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, however.
He certainly will have a ton of eyes on him due to his winning on the field and drama off the field. I hope he can stay healthy and start a run with Lawrence under center.
James Robinson had a tremendous 2020 campaign, and the first-round selection of Travis Etienne will be fun to watch. The long-time Clemson teammates will be back at it yet again. Etienne was an absolute blur in the open field. He never came off as a blazer at first glance, but he soon became one of the most consistent backs in ACC history.
The young options in the passing game are where the team brings their most excitement. Etienne could see a ton of time in the slot, but DJ Chark is the projected number one option. He might command the most attention, but there are other weapons.
Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones give Lawrence a solid trio to start his career off in the NFL. Shenault Jr. is a former first rounder that has the talent to be a relevant contributor. He was used in the slot and should be catching the ball a little further down the field. The former Colorado performer took snaps in college at the Wildcat due to his blend of size and speed. He can provide more of that on the NFL level, and running the ball with consistency would help prolong the career of Lawrence.
The defense was unstoppable when they had Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, and Calais Campbell. All three have moved on, and the young pieces starting will need to step their games up. Myles Jack (turning 26 in September), Josh Allen (just turned 24), and CJ Henderson (turning 23 in September) stand out as their next capable studs.
The division is not going to be the top choice in the NFL, either. Tennessee and Indianapolis should be playoff teams for a bit, but the future for Jacksonville could be just as bright.
The franchise may be a ways away from contending for the division title or a Super Bowl.
However, there is an upside to be had, and Meyer should turn this team from a one-win squad to a seven or eight-plus win team right away. They should soon become threats towards the postseason and potentially inch closer to ending their Super Bowl drought (26 years).
7. Minnesota Vikings (0-4 in Super Bowls)
Here lies another franchise that has a ton of bad luck when it comes to the postseason. It has been odd to see Minnesota meet New Orleans twice in the postseason recently. Both games came down to the wire, and the Vikings have gotten the best of them.
Unfortunately, it has not further translated into more success.
If we were to go by recent games, the Vikings lost to San Francisco and Philadelphia in those next two rounds, respectively. We have not seen the Vikings reach the postseason in consecutive seasons since 2008-09. Brett Favre was the starter in that grueling NFC Championship loss to New Orleans of all teams.
Three games against the Saints since 2009 is impressive, but the Vikings are craving more success. They feel they have the right pieces offensively, but they must put it all together.
The franchise has lost their last six NFC title games, dating back to 1977.
If we count divisional games and beyond, the Vikings are 6-14 since 1977.
They are trailing only the likes of Detroit (63), New York (AFC, 52), and Cleveland (48).
The Lions appeared in the 1957 NFL Championship, a decade before the Super Bowl began. The Jets won Super Bowl III, but that was back in 1968. The Browns last appeared in a championship game in 1969.
So, it has been a long while for all of these struggling franchises.
The Vikings are one of the better ones of that bunch. They have a superstar running back in Dalvin Cook. Cook is simply electric with the football in his hands. Staying healthy for an entire season is never a given for an NFL running back, but Cook makes the Vikings that much better when he is. Cook left college as the all-time leading rusher in Florida State history. He will have his sights set on Canton someday if he can stay healthy. As dominant as he has been for the franchise, they still need a quarterback to lead them to relevancy.
Kirk Cousins just picked up his first career postseason victory over New Orleans in 2019. Can the Vikings put their postseason demons to rest with Cousins under center? He finally garnered a win, but will he stay upright in the pocket? The offensive line lacks elite blockers, and it has not taken much pressure to get Cousins on his back.
The pieces around Cousins are elite. Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson are a great tandem, and they were unstoppable last season. Thielen would carve up teams with underneath routes while finding paydirt.
Coming off a career-high in touchdowns (14), Jefferson put together the best rookie season we had ever seen.
From an efficiency standpoint Justin Jefferson is basically having the best rookie season from a WR … ever— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 19, 2020
Hauling in 88 of his 125 targets was nearly impossible. While the catch radius may not be as productive, Jefferson could remain among the league leaders. The 15.9 yards per reception was dazzling. The explosiveness he showed after catching a pass was evident. He did it at LSU with Joe Burrow threading the needle, and now he will start to command double coverage his way.
It will be tough to defend this Minnesota offense. Jefferson and Cook have the home-run ability on any given play. Thielen has above-average speed, but his route tree is off the charts. He was consistently schooling defensive backs in the red zone. It seemed like players were confused about what move he was going to make next.
The biggest issue preventing this franchise from making a deep playoff push is their lack of defense. It was downright disastrous last season. Mike Zimmer is a defensive head coach, and even he admitted it was horrendous.
The man pulls none of the punches.
The loss of Danielle Hunter impacted their lack of a pass rush. The lack of any stars is not a worthy excuse. Harrison Smith has been one of the premier defensive backs for several seasons. Eric Hendricks and Anthony Barr are capable linebackers, so the cupboard is far from bare.
The production of the defense will come down to an improved pass rush and improved defensive backs. It was baffling at how poorly they played a season ago.
The playoff chances are bleak until the defense returns closer to a dominant force. They do have a stockpile of young offensive skill players. They will be a ton of fun to watch, and they could see themselves in more shootouts until the defense shows more consistency.
6. Carolina Panthers (0-2 in Super Bowls)
The Panthers became a franchise in 1995, and they went a respectable 7-9 out of the gates. The following season they made it to the NFC Championship before falling at Green Bay. Kerry Collins nearly got them to the final game of the season before bowing out at Lambeau.
2003 needed to come quickly after six non-winning seasons. The Panthers nearly won four games en route to their Super Bowl run that fell short to the Patriots. Tom Brady won his second Super Bowl, but Carolina had a sensational 11-5 season. They won on the road against the Rams and Eagles to reach the Super Bowl. Jake Delhomme came so close to bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Carolina.
Losing 24-10 in Super Bowl 50 was tough to endure for Newton. He never returned to his MVP form again. Carolina reached the playoffs in 2017 before getting bounced at New Orleans. Cam ran by and through tacklers. It eventually caught up with him. Injuries are tough to overcome in the NFL and Cam has found that out the hard way. The Panthers have been looking to find a consistent quarterback with the loss of production from Newton.
Going 17-31 over these last three seasons has been a struggle. They are hoping Sam Darnold can turn his career around. In the process, it could turn the Panthers into a real playoff contender out of the NFC South.
Other reasons for optimism are the pieces that are in place next to Darnold, who some believe could break out in Carolina.
The reports are looking up for Darnold in Carolina.https://t.co/45CgEUHdyV— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) July 6, 2021
Darnold’s former teammate on the Jets should be a reliable option in the passing game. We saw Robby Anderson put a solid season together with Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterback. Anderson has legit speed and can get open at will. While he may not score a ton of touchdowns, taking care of the ball and moving the chains will need to be a goal this season.
DJ Moore is another weapon that has wheels for days. Moore led the NFL in yards per catch last season at 18.1. He can burn defenders on any given play. Defenses have to keep their eyes open for a passing attack that should be tough to slow down.
Another reason to remain optimistic on this squad is Christian McCaffrey. Missing 13 games last season was tough on an offense that had a new coaching staff.
Matt Rhule and Joe Brady did a fine job in their first year together. It often takes a few years before an offense syncs well together. Teddy Bridgewater was respectable with Mike Davis in the backfield. Davis turned back the clock like his days at South Carolina. Catching the ball out of the backfield with 59 receptions came out of nowhere. Mike Davis seemed like he was completely finished in the NFL.
Instead, he thrived in 2020 thanks to getting an opportunity to perform.
CMC will look to have the best season of his career in 2021. If he can be somewhere close to the 2019 production, the Carolina offense will be reaping benefits.
Sam Darnold will gladly tote the rock to McCaffrey towards the goal-line. He had 27 rushing scores over the last three years in 35 games, which is staggering. We saw the Panther tailback eclipse over 2,000 yards of offense nearly twice in his career. He came close in 2018 but then shattered it in 2019 (2,392).
CMC is your best bet to be an MVP candidate among non-quarterbacks. If healthy, C-Mac would be among the more compelling 2021 NFL MVP sleepers.
McCaffrey can carry an offense on his back. If you look at career receiving numbers, it has been more impressive than some starting wide receivers.
He has as many or more catches, yards, and touchdowns as Odell Beckham Jr. has had in the past four seasons. CMC has hauled in 320 passes for 2,672 yards to go along with 16 touchdowns. Odell has only 199 receptions for 2,708 yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. The number of healthy players for Carolina could propel them towards a postseason push for many years to come.
Imagine having a premier running back that has shown shades of Marshall Faulk thus far in a young career? If struggles continue, then the Panthers will be looking for a replacement for Darnold.
The schedule is also a benefit for success in 2021. Carolina does not play a team coming off a bye week and has no disadvantages in terms of short weeks. They have all but three of their games scheduled for Noon kickoffs (1 pm Carolina time). Other than their Week 3 game at Houston, the primetime games are not there. The Panthers will be flying under the radar for most of the season until their record sticks out like a sore thumb.
Most experts are not even picking this team to finish second in the NFC South. The division should be weaker as the Saints and Falcons lose some key pieces (see Drew Brees, Julio Jones). The Falcons have struggled defensively for years, and the Saints could take a slight step back as well.
Bridgewater did not have enough healthy weapons and had struggles of his own. If Darnold can turn the corner and be a game-manager, the Panthers will be in the postseason as a top-notch sleeper.
The NFC South is a division that could be changing due to the age of the signal-callers. Brady (turning 44), Matt Ryan (36), and Drew Brees (retired, 42) are all eventually moving on. We will see Brees in the NBC booth calling Notre Dame games. Tom Brady may only play for another two seasons, and thus the division could be up for grabs sooner than later.
Buy stock in Carolina now, before the value is gone.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1 in the Super Bowl)
The Chargers have been a franchise that should be thrilled to be playing in a brand new stadium to receive more support from their fans. They have had a handful of winning teams over the years.
Those teams had Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and LaDainian Tomlinson. The trio was simply unstoppable, and they were consistently threats in the AFC West. From 2004-13, they appeared in the postseason six times in that decade. Drew Brees dabbled before an injury sent him away to New Orleans Saints after pondering the Miami Dolphins.
Rivers was a 2004 draft selection, and the Bolts went to the AFC Championship in his fourth year as a pro. Losing to New England 21-12 was a tough pill to swallow since they have not returned.
Getting a game within the Super Bowl is tough. It has not been since 1994 for the Chargers, which was the lone appearance for the franchise. Jerry Rice, Steve Young, and Ricky Watters put on a show at Joe Robbie Stadium. A lot has changed since Stan Humphries and Natrone Means were donning San Diego uniforms.
Fast forward over a quarter-century later, and Justin Herbert is under center. All the kid did was break the rookie passing touchdowns record.
Coming off a sensational rookie campaign, the former Duck will look to avoid the sophomore slump. Brandon Staley and the new coaching staff have enough weapons surrounding Herbert to avoid that slump.
Keenan Allen has been one of the more underrated weapons in the NFL. Playing a similar style to Anquan Boldin, Allen is a menace to defend. He can line up anywhere but is used best in the slot due to his tremendous hands. He catches anything thrown his way, and the production backs it up. Hauling in 97-plus receptions in four straight seasons is tremendous.
Throw in 26 receiving touchdowns over the last four seasons, and he could quietly bring down double-digit scores this season with a 17-game slate.
Mike Williams could be the x-factor that allows Herbert to keep growing at a rapid pace. Williams needs to stay on the field since he commands attention due to his size. Despite having never hauled in 50-plus receptions in a season, Williams brings touchdown upside with him. We saw him score ten times in 2018, and many are looking for that version to return to the Chargers.
You can put offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi in that group. Here’s what he had to say about Williams going into 2021.
Austin Ekeler is another player that needs to stay on the field since he is vital to the offense as well. The Chargers did not have much of a running game. Yet, they were successful due to a potent passing attack. Ekeler is one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL. The weapons may not scream a true superstar at you, but the pieces fit so well.
They lacked a young signal-caller that could carry the franchise on their back. Herbert answered all the questions as a rookie. He is a big, athletic gunslinger that has a plus arm. His mobility allows him to escape pressure and throw dots for touchdowns. He made an incredible throw on Monday Night Football against the Saints that allowed his team to have a chance to win in overtime.
This team has the upside to make a run towards the playoffs due to their stellar defense. Joey Bosa and Derwin James are two superstar talents that need to stay healthy. The team is not talented enough to produce without them. If both can put together Pro Bowl seasons, the defense can be major contributors. When the offense has a tough day at work, that is needed. Jerry Tillery, Linval Joseph, Kenneth Murray, and Chris Harris are good enough pieces to get the job done.
The youth on this team will also allow them to be threats to the Kansas City Chiefs. I am not calling for the Bolts to unseat the Chiefs, especially since they have won the AFC these prior two seasons.
However, Los Angeles will have plenty of tries in the postseason for years to come. Nobody will be picking them, and they could be a true underdog story shortly. Keep your eyes peeled on the Chargers making deep runs into January and potentially February.
4. Arizona Cardinals (0-1 in the Super Bowl)
This franchise has had a ton of good memories and some tough ones to put in the past. From Kurt Warner to Carson Palmer, older signal-callers have blessed this franchise with Super Bowl opportunities that have come up short.
Warner was able to get to the Super Bowl and nearly won it all in 2008. Palmer crashed and burned badly in 2015. The NFC Championship loss to Carolina was the end of the career for Palmer, and their quarterback woes have continued since then.
It was from 1999-2007 in which the franchise failed to appear in the postseason. Arizona was among the worst franchises in those nine seasons. All nine years were miserable. They went a combined 49-95 without posting a single winning season in the process. Times were rough back then, and those days seem to be in the past.
It would help if Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were healthy and together throughout those seasons. The Cardinals were fun to watch last year, and it was unfortunate that they came up short of reaching the playoffs. We finally should see the year they finally get over the hump. It has not been since 2015, and Murray should continue to shine in Glendale.
Larry Fitzgerald was on both of those championship rosters that came up short. Both teams were nearly a decade apart, and he is hopeful for another crack at a deep January postseason run.
Fitz is now a role player with some stars in the huddle next to him. DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray are two of the more exciting players in the NFL. Murray can flat-out move as well as any quarterback in the league. The addition of AJ Green gives the offense a bevy of options. Christian Kirk has the speed to beat the secondary over the top. Fitz is a reliable slot option, and Murray should continue to feed him on crucial downs.
The offensive speed on the field will be unmatched, and this team will be dangerous in the NFC West. Despite the clear upside, they land at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of odds to win the division in 2021.
- Rams (+200)
- 49ers (+210)
- Seahawks (+250)
- Cardinals (+500)
Nobody is picking them to win the division, and the experts in the desert question them even reaching the postseason.
That is mainly due to Russell Wilson getting a ton of respect for what he has accomplished in the league. The 49ers, coming off a Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago, are still capable of making a deep playoff push. Los Angeles is also worthy of receiving hype after acquiring Matthew Stafford.
The offense will get most of the attention and deservedly so, but the defense needs love. JJ Watt, Chandler Jones, Isaiah Simmons, and Budda Baker are all studs. Baker is one of the best defensive backs in the NFL due to his ability to cover so much ground. He can make a big hit in the box and come away with crucial interceptions as well.
The ability to put pressure on opposing offenses will be the key to their success. The division has sensational defenses, and the Cardinals are underrated. The future looks bright for Arizona. While the NFC is loaded, putting them fourth should come as a surprise.
The amount of youth this franchise has will allow them to bring in more experienced players such as Watt and Green. I view them as a playoff team for many years to come, with or without Kliff Kingsbury at the helm. He has questions as a successful NFL coach since he had issues in college football.
Arizona has a loaded roster if Kyler Murray can stay healthy. I am buying stock in the Cardinals in 2021 and for the distant future. I would not be shocked if they end up competing for the NFC West crown and come close to winning it.
3. Tennessee Titans (0-1 in the Super Bowl)
The Titans have become a trendy and sexy offseason team that some feel can win Super Bowl 56. The addition of Julio Jones will do that. Throw the future Hall of Famer next to Derrick Henry and AJ Brown, and you have yourself an impressive unit.
Henry is the top bruiser in the NFL because of his physical style of running. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the NFL. He has made improvements in each of the past two seasons. Tannehill was a former wide receiver at Texas A&M, so his athleticism and quickness were always there. His quick feet allowed him to reach paydirt seven times last season.
The Titan signal-caller was one of the worst starters with the Miami Dolphins, and now he is among the top dozen or so. His ability to improve as a pocket passer has elevated his overall game.
When a quarterback has Brown, Jones, and Henry, there should be a comfort level that most may never feel in their career. Brown and Jones might as well be considered the bash brothers. Both will drag defensive backs across the gridiron as they move the chains and set up field position. Taking care of the ball and playing keep away has worked well to this point.
The Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are two teams that are not ready to win right away. I love the Jacksonville future, but the Texans have a downhill battle for a while.
Tennessee can beat up on both of those teams this season and reap the benefits. Winning the division is achievable despite how good the Colts will be. Getting one of the three wild cards will be there for the taking.
Ultimately, their offense should hang with any other contender in the AFC. Tannehill, Henry, Jones, and Brown are all capable of taking a game over. The ability to churn out long possessions should keep their defense fresh as well.
The defense would be their biggest weakness that could hold this team back. Kevin Byard has been one of the better defensive backs in the league for years, but it takes more than just one player in the secondary to make a defense relevant. Their front seven needs to develop more impact players, and being more opportunistic would be a start.
The history has picked up these past few seasons with the Titans. Mike Vrabel has made it two seasons in a row, and a third could be the charm. The Titans made the AFC championship in 2019 thanks to King Henry, and he could take them for another long ride in 2021.
The Titans have a bright future in the AFC South with youngsters at the skill positions. As long as they keep returning to the postseason, success will occur. It will come down to getting an extra stop or two on defense. I feel confident in this team due to a hard-nosed coach that has a knack for picking up wins in the fourth quarter.
2. Cleveland Browns (Never Appeared)
Cleveland has been a place where quarterbacks go to die at the professional level. The book is still out on Baker Mayfield for some, but this franchise is on the right path. Appearing in its first Divisional game since 1994, Cleveland is back better than seemingly ever before.
I could go down the awful memory of all those struggling signal-callers, but let us look at the bright future and where we stand currently on the Browns. Cleveland has done a tremendous job building and improving its lines of scrimmage.
Their ability to run downhill on the opposition last season was dominant. Nick Chubb missed a quarter of the season and was still able to rush for over 1,000 yards.
The dude is just a monster.
Why do you run the ball down 19-3 in a playoff game? Because you have Nick Chubb, that’s why. pic.twitter.com/jEEzqGxa6b— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) July 7, 2021
Chubb averaged 5.6 yards per tote and was second on the team in rushing behind Kareem Hunt. Hunt has been a high-volume pass catcher, but he had success last season running behind his linemen as well.
The best quintet of linemen belongs to the Browns. Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin, Jedrick Willis Jr., JC Tretter, and Joel Bitonio are sensational as a unit. The amount of beef the Browns will bring to the table will make it difficult for any defensive squad to limit.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should be licking their chops and taking these five out to dinner throughout the season. Chubb has battled injuries his entire career and is young enough to endure them while still playing at a high level. Hunt has improved lately, and the duo certainly complements each other.
Mayfield will look to his wide receiver tandem to help complete the offense. Jarvis Landry is a slot machine that continued to be effective, even in a heavy rushing offense. Odell Beckham Jr. has not been the same since leaving the Giants. He has had four struggling seasons in a row, and injuries have played a role. Missing 25 games in four seasons is unpleasant. Cleveland needs his explosive play-making ability to take over.
The offense was able to get by without a ton of home-run ability in the passing game. Landry made a monster touchdown grab against the Steelers in the Wild Card round, but there needs to be more of that.
An underrated aspect of the Browns should be an improved secondary. There were far too many games where they were exposed to chunk plays against opposing passing attacks. Injuries played a role, but the lack of defensive backs was too much to overcome.
Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, Greedy Williams, and Troy Hill will need to stay on the field. If not, the Browns could have an early exit in the postseason. They have not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1988-89.
Bernie Kosar led the Browns offense back then, and the offense should be in good hands with Baker Mayfield.
There are plenty of weapons on the offensive side to hang in there with the Ravens, Bills, and Chiefs. An advantage that Cleveland has on their side is a legit defensive front. Myles Garrett is arguably the top pass-rusher in the league due to his freakish athletic ability.
The offseason acquisition of Jadeveon Clowney could help Garrett become even more of a monster off the edge. Andrew Billings was a force on the interior, and he should allow linebackers to eat up ball carriers. The ability to eat up space by Billings should allow the young linebackers to make the necessary improvements.
Making it to four NFL championships from 1964 to 1969 shows how long it has been since Cleveland has been nationally relevant. This season is the best opportunity for Cleveland to make an even deeper playoff run. The Browns have one of the five best rosters in the NFL. I project another postseason push with the ingredients to dethrone Kansas City, Buffalo, and Baltimore.
An incredible defense upfront with the ability to play keep-away on offense is the perfect recipe. While I am not overly confident the Browns will end their Super Bowl drought shortly, they certainly will have plenty of chances. That is all you can ask for as a fan of any franchise, especially one of the Cleveland Browns.
1. Buffalo Bills (0-4 in Super Bowls)
The Bills have been a franchise that has had rotten luck over the years. Appearing in four Super Bowls from 1990-1993 were fun times that flew by. Winning three of the four AFC championship games by an average margin of 28 points was unrealistic. The dominance looked like it was never going to end.
The trio of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed was great. The franchise ended up making four of the next six postseasons, but they could not accomplish their end goal. They went 1-4 overall and failed to return to the postseason again until 2017. The number of signal-callers was apparent in the post-Kelly era.
These world beaters all started under center for Buffalo for stretches between 1996-2001.
- Todd Collins
- Alex Van Pelt
- Doug Flutie
- Rob Johnson
The seasons were unsuccessful, and that is when Drew Bledsoe took over and started 48 straight games for the Bills across three seasons that fell short of a postseason berth.
2005-06 was the J.P. Losman experience, and it did not end well. Kelly Holcomb saw time as well, and the Bills continued to struggle.
Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brian Brohm all played musical chairs of quarterbacks. It got even worse when Kyle Orton, E.J. Manuel, Jeff Tuel, Thad Lewis, and Nathan Peterman gave it their best shot.
Tyrod Taylor turned the tide and helped the team reach the postseason in 2017. Josh Allen has since taken over and led them to as many playoff victories as the franchise had in the previous quarter-century.
Allen is the most talented signal-caller they have seen since Jim Kelly, and the Bills have been explosive on the offensive end. Allen has the arm strength and athleticism to take Buffalo to the promised land.
Simply put, he’s amazing.
Bills Mafia has been craving success. It had not been since 1995 before this past season in terms of the last postseason victory for the franchise. This past season was the closest the franchise has been to get over the hump.
There will be plenty of hurdles to clear in the AFC. The Chiefs, Ravens, and Browns are the top teams on paper outside of the Bills.
The Bills have a weapon that all of those teams other than the Chiefs do not have. His name is Stefon Diggs. The addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs was the most impactful non-QB addition to a team in the NFL last season. Diggs hauled in 127 receptions for 1,535 yards and eight scores. Diggs is an exceptional route runner, and his ability to get open was a godsend for the Bills.
Watching Diggs and Allen connect every Sunday afternoon was must-watch television, and the Bills Mafia is hopeful to get several more productive seasons like 2020.
The one ingredient that was inconsistent with the Buffalo offense was the running game. It was tough to see Zach Moss get hurt in the postseason. He was not used much as a rookie, but the former Utah Ute will likely see an increase in touches.
Many believe Devin Singletary is best as a third-down back. Allen led the team in rushing scores, and he had over 100 carries. That was the third-most on the team, and while eight rushing scores are tremendous, Buffalo needs other players to fill the role as a ball-carrier. Allen is the franchise and does not need to be taking that many knocks every week.
The other side of the ball was a concern as well. Stuffing the run was an issue for a franchise that prides itself on the physicality part of the game. Getting more speed on the field will allow the offense to run more plays, but more importantly, it will increase their chances of winning a Super Bowl.
Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, and Tre’Davious White can limit top opposing offensive weapons on the perimeter. An improved pass-rush will turn the Bills secondary into an elite group. Ed Oliver, Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes, and rookie Gregory Rousseau need to leave their marks on the game.
Among all the current NFL franchises that have not won it all, the Bills seem to be the closest to capturing the Lombardi Trophy.
Can an NFL Team Can Win Their Maiden Super Bowl in 2022?
None of these 12 teams have won a Lombardi Trophy. Four of them haven’t even been to the Super Bowl before.
It’s anyone’s guess if any of them are actually up to the task. It might be even harder to correctly predict which NFL team will win their first Super Bowl next.
The good thing is breakdowns like this should at least point you in the right direction. The top NFL betting sites help, too. Of the 12 teams listed here, just two have odds priced at +1600 or better in 2021.
Obviously, Kansas City come in at the favorites. Tampa Bay could repeat. Green Bay, L.A., and other contenders could make some noise, too.
However, if the torch is to get passed, it could pay to go hard at the Bills, Browns, or someone else on this list.
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