How Every Team Can Win Super Bowl LVI: AFC Eastby Ryan Potts February 21, 2021 11 comments
As free agency and the draft approach, every team has some level of excitement. Some teams are looking to contend in 2021. Others only want to move in the right direction. However, the NFL is unique in that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl each season.
With as volatile as football can be, the smallest of breaks could launch a Super Bowl run. Even the 1-15 Jaguars could position themselves to be a contender. Unlikely? Sure, but football is unpredictable for a reason. There is a path for all 32 teams to win Super Bowl LVI.
Let’s start with the AFC East.
The Buffalo Bills came within 60 minutes of advancing to their first Super Bowl since the 1993 season. Much of their loss against the Kansas City Chiefs hinged on their inability to stop the short passing game. The Bills should target coverage linebackers and more effective pass rushers in free agency and the draft. The Bills can get back to the AFC title game and potentially win in 2021.
The offense would need to be much of the same as Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs developed into the superstars during the 2020 season. If Allen and Diggs can replicate their 2020 success, the Bills should win the division and be poised to make another run at the Chiefs’ throne. If the Super Bowl taught the world anything, Kansas City is not invincible. Buffalo may just need another shot at the Chiefs to knock them off. With Kansas City‘s division improving with the likes of Los Angeles and Denver getting key pieces back in 2021, Buffalo could secure the number one seed if they have success within their division.
The easiest path for Buffalo to win the Super Bowl would be if a team such as the Chargers knocked off the Chiefs early in the playoffs. The Bills are the second-best team in the AFC at the moment, and they could cruise to an edit AFC championship if the Chiefs were knocked out.
With Miami’s two first-round picks, the sky is the limit for how effective the draft can be. If the Dolphins were to pick up two blue-chip prospects such as Penei Sewell and Jaylen Waddle, Miami could become the favorite in the AFC East. Miami already has one of the best defensive units in the NFL anchored by superstar corners Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Moving forward, the offense will need to catch up to the defense. However, complementing Tua Tagovailoa with wide receivers like he had an Alabama, including Waddle, could unleash the Hawaiian.
In college, Tagovailoa was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the history of the sport. He thrived on using his accuracy to slice open defenses. He is currently surrounded by talented pass catchers, but the likes of Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker do not fit what Tagovailoa needs as a quarterback. Gesicki and Parker are physical ball-winners. While Tagovailoa can display his accuracy on 50-50 balls, he would be better used in a YAC-heavy passing attack. Tagovailoa has the unique ability to not only be accurate but also lead his receivers to green grass. The Dolphins could jump into serious contention if they add playmakers on the outside that are great separators as route runners. Miami has a Super Bowl-caliber defense, but one slight improvement from the office could bring the Lombardi back to Miami.
New England Patriots:
In this universe, the Patriots draft Waddle with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 draft. Cam Newton shakes off the after-effects of COVID-19 and returns to something resembling his 2015 form. New England will be receiving their full complement of defense of players as the likes of Dont’a Hightower return. New England, bolstered with a strong running game and good offensive line, could steal the throne from Buffalo if Allen regresses. The Patriots have the pieces in place to potentially return to the playoffs, but they would need some luck to break their way.
With a coach as decorated as Bill Belichick, a competent roster could find its way to the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, New England would only need a handful of breaks to go their way to end up back in the Super Bowl. Newton has proven that he can play well enough to put a team in a position to go to the Super Bowl, and the Patriots have a defense that could win them their seventh Lombardi trophy. Even as the defense ages, players such as Stephon Gilmore are still top-tier.
New York Jets:
Welcome to the green side of East Rutherford, Deshaun Watson. With Watson at the helm, New York would have a competent offense for what seems like the first time ever. New York could bring in the likes of Allen Robinson or Curtis Samuel in free agency. Joe Douglas has an eye for talent in the draft, and the Jets have significant draft capital. Even if the Jets send over six picks for Watson, they have many late-round fliers. Defensively, the Jets have the pieces to be a competent group. If Quinnen Williams blossoms into a star and highflyers such as Marcus Maye continue their solid play from 2020, the Jets could have a top 10 defensive unit to accompany their strong offense.
While Watson and Houston only had four wins last season, the Texans were in enough games that a competent defense would have won as many as 10 games. With Watson, the Jets would have the best quarterback in almost every game. In the modern NFL, having the superior quarterback boosts a team more than ever. If Watson can outduel Allen twice, the Jets can sneak away with the division and proceed into the playoffs. With a quarterback as talented as Watson, the Jets could fight their way to the Super Bowl.