Why Every Team Won’t Win Super Bowl LVI: AFC Eastby Ryan Potts March 15, 2021 8 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.
At the same time, only one team can lift the Lombardi next February. 31 teams will fall short. Here’s why each team will not have what it takes to win the Super Bowl next year.
Let’s start with the AFC East.
Buffalo could regress as Josh Allen played over his head in some parts in 2020. For as dominant as Allen and Bills offense was at times, Allen did have many passes that should’ve been intercepted. If his turnover luck swings the other way, Allen and the Bills could be on the outside looking in as a polished Dolphins team could take the AFC East crown in 2021. While Allen and the Bills are still likely to make the playoffs even if there is some regression to the mean on the offenses, a road through the likes of Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, and/or Kansas City could prove difficult.
The easiest way to envision the Bills not winning the Super Bowl is if Miami takes a step forward and knocks the Bills back to second place in the AFC East. While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers happened to win the Super Bowl as a wildcard in 2020, it is very rare for a team to win three road playoff games and then win the Super Bowl. Any regression from Allen could spell doom for the Bills
Miami could fail to surround Tua Tagovailoa with the necessary talent to win in the AFC East. While Miami does have a strong defense, if Tagovailoa repeats the number of turnover-worthy plays he had in 2020, Miami could yet again be on the outside of the playoff picture. If Xavien Howard regresses to the mean in terms of turning chances into interceptions, Miami’s defense could take a subtle step back and remove any of Miami’s Super Bowl aspirations.
In 2020, the Dolphins were undone by an ultra-competitive AFC. Even in 2021, the AFC looks fierce with the likes of Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Baltimore potentially reloading to usurp the division winners. If Miami does not make vast improvements to their team, they could miss the playoffs for the fifth season in a row.
There is a non-zero chance that the Dolphins select a quarterback with a third overall pick in the 2021 draft, which could set the Dolphins back if the rookie quarterback has any hiccups. Miami has an über-talented defense, but as the world has seen with the likes of the 2020 Washington Football Team, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Los Angeles Rams, no matter how good your defense is, you can still be undone by incompetent quarterback play.
New England Patriots:
The Patriots could decide to blow up the 2021 season. Depending on whom they select with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the Patriots could be throwing in the towel in mid-April. In this universe, Cam Newton fails to replicate any sort of decent form as the Patriots slip further and further into offensive ineptitude. Also in this universe, the offensive line regresses and Damien Harris forgets how to play football. Defensively, the returning players from COVID-19 opt-outs fail to help the defense as it slips into mediocrity. At this point, the Patriots would likely be a four or five-win team that is caught in no man’s land as they missed out on the quarterback crop of 2021.
The Patriots are uniquely positioned that they could contend or could just blow up the season if they decide to. With a quarterback like Jarrett Stidham waiting behind Newton, the Patriots have a self-destruct button that wears No. 4. Even if Stidham is not a catastrophe at quarterback, the Patriots are unlikely to take over Buffalo or Miami.
New York Jets:
It seems fairly obvious, but the Jets were not a good football team in 2020. There’s a solid chance that little changes moving forward. Even if Robert Saleh is the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Jets likely do not have enough talent on the roster to win more than seven games. Even if they make splashes in free agency or acquire Deshaun Watson via trade, the Jets lack the depth required to compete with Buffalo and Miami or even New England.
If the Jets select Justin Fields or Zach Wilson with a No.2 pick in the NFL draft, one can chalk the season up as yet another that does not end with the Jets raising the Lombardi trophy. While this is not a knock against Fields or Wilson, rookie quarterbacks generally are not elite enough to guide their team to a Super Bowl. While the Jets did have a run from Mark Sanchez in 2009 in 2010, this Jets team does not have the quality defense that the Rex Ryan-led teams had in the early 2010s.
Are you an optimist? All four of these teams have a chance to win the Lombardi.