With the season just around the corner, every team believes they have some shot at winning the Super Bowl. Some teams are more likely to win than others, so let’s rank them from least likely to most likely.
The Bottom Dwellers: Tier 6
Teams (7): Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, New York Jets, Washington Football Team
These teams have a handful of good players, but stronger teams will overrun them. These teams will compete for top-five picks in the 2021 draft. There is a chance that a team from this section could surprise, but they have an uphill climb. The ceiling for a team here is an 8-8 season.
Better Luck Next Year: Tier 5
Teams (4): Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins
They are not there yet, but these teams have a deeper pool of talent than those in the bottom tier. While they have worked to shore up major deficiencies, and they are on the fringe of making the playoffs. They could pop up in some playoff predictions, but they often finish between six and eight wins with a ceiling of a Wild Card berth.
Quarterback Trust Issues: Tier 4.5
Teams (6): Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers
Outside of quarterback, these six teams have loaded rosters. They have stars on both sides of the ball with solid depth. If the quarterback position mattered less, these teams would likely jump into a serious competition tier. If these teams make the playoffs, it will be despite subpar quarterback play.
Buffalo, Cleveland, and Denver do not have a finished product at quarterback, and they could move up at any time. The other three teams have low-ceiling quarterbacks that will actively hurt the progress the team makes during the season.
These are the most volatile teams in the NFL. Some weeks, these teams will look like Super Bowl threats. Other weeks, they will look bad enough to lose to a high school junior varsity team. They could go to the Conference Championship games, but they could also go 5-11.
Roster Trust Issues: Tier 4
Teams (5): Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots
Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, and Cam Newton are proven NFL commodities. They facilitate roster talent and win games. These teams meet the superstar criteria, but they lack the depth of talent that the top teams do. They have one exploitable flaw, but they are superior to most opponents.
None of these teams have the ceilings of those in Tier 4.5, but they have much higher floors. Even if every little detail went wrong, these teams would likely still be in playoff contention for most of the season. They could win as many 10 games and be a “sneaky Super Bowl team” in December and January.
Contenders: Tier 3
Teams (6): Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans
These six teams have reasonably high floors. Likely playoff teams, they have realistic Super Bowl ambitions. They do not have the ridiculous talent depth that the top four teams have, but they are not far off. They often have elite quarterback play, but these teams generally avoid disaster. A losing season would be a massive let down. Depending on the schedule, they could be perceived as a Super Bowl threat, but they can be over-reliant on their stars.
If Kansas City did not exist, they would be favorites: Tier 2
Teams (3): Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers
It is unfortunate. These teams are loaded on offense and defense. They have superstars littered across the field, and they could send as many as 10 players to the Pro Bowl. These three teams likely will not combine for the 40 wins they had in 2019, but they should win at least 11 games each.
The Ravens beat teams with pure efficiency. In 2019, their rushing offense was effective enough that it could be compared to passing offenses in terms of expected points added. Baltimore has re-tooled in the off-season by adding the likes of Calais Campbell and J.K. Dobbins, and they are a popular pick to go to the Super Bowl. They have the highest floor of any team, but Lamar Jackson‘s continued development controls the ceiling.
The offense has more recognizable names, but New Orleans has a plethora of stars on the defense. Led by Cameron Jordan, the Saints will be competitive every week even if Drew Brees shows signs of age. The Saints have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and they can win in a variety of ways. Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara can take over games, and they have many complementary options such as newly-acquired Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook.
The 49ers were likely a Jimmy Garoppolo deep ball away from winning the Super Bowl, but they retained many of their pieces. The three major losses, Joe Staley, the aforementioned Sanders, and DeForest Buckner, were replaced during the draft with Trent Williams (via trade), Brandon Aiyuk, and Javon Kinlaw. San Francisco’s only weak spot is likely at quarterback, but Kyle Shanahan is a genius (as long as it is not in the second half of the Super Bowl).
Kansas City’s Tier: Tier 1
Teams (1): Kansas City Chiefs
Spoiler alert: the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes will win his second MVP, and he will break the MVP curse and capture his second-straight Super Bowl MVP.
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