How Every Team Can Win Super Bowl LVI: AFC Southby Ryan Potts March 25, 2021 2 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 Jacksonville 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 continue with the AFC South.
The Titans are in an interesting spot in 2021. The 2020 defense was horrendous, setting the record for the worst third-down defense in NFL history. The offense lit up football. Derrick Henry romped for 2,000 yards. Ryan Tannehill had another strong season. A.J. Brown put himself in the top-10 wide receiver conversation. The offense will regress a little bit in 2021. Jonnu Smith is a Patriot now and Corey Davis is a Jet. However, the defense cannot possibly be as bad as it was in 2020. For the Titans to win the Super Bowl, they need to have a middling defense to go along with a top-10 offense. The offense is a given; Henry is that good. Defensively, the Titans will rely on incoming free agency Bud Dupree and former first-round pick Jeffery Simmons to provide some semblance of a pass rush. With a pass rush, Tennessee can compete.
Even if the offense falters slightly with the departure of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, Tennessee has the easiest five yards in the sport: a handoff to Henry. In the modern NFL, few teams are equipped to stop Henry, so Tennessee can repeat its 11-win 2020 even if the defense doesn’t improve dramatically. The playoffs will be a different story, but Tennessee’s defense can progress to the mean and push the Titans to the Lombardi.
Two words: Carson Wentz. If Wentz plays like his 2017 near-MVP form, the Colts will be among the best teams in the NFL. Wentz is surrounded by a dominant roster with Jonathan Taylor as a dark-horse to lead the NFL in rushing. Michael Pittman Jr. can blossom into a star, and the rest of the offense is sturdy. While the Colts do have a hole at left tackle after the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, there are starting-caliber tackles throughout the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Pick one, and you’ll have the best offensive line in the NFL yet again. Defensively, the Colts are driven by superstars DeForest Buckner and Darius Leonard. The rest of the defense is solid, and the Colts should finish in the top five on that side of the ball.
Indianapolis won 11 games with Philip Rivers in 2020, and Wentz is theoretically an upgrade. He will open up a larger section of the playbook as he reconnects with Frank Reich. If there is a place for Wentz to succeed, it’s Indianapolis. With a good season, Wentz could lead the Colts to the Lombardi, finishing the road he started in 2017.
Deshaun Watson’s status in 2021 is unclear. However, he is a Texan as of writing, and he boosts Houston’s Super Bowl chances dramatically. Watson was the NFL’s most consistent quarterback in 2020, and he can replicate it in 2021. Houston has signed a bevy of players to one-year contracts, so they are poised to prove themselves for a new contract next offseason. With MVP-caliber play from Watson and a surprisingly average defense, Houston could take the division. In 2020, they lost four divisional games on a coin flip, a mistimed fumble, another mistimed fumble, and a great play by A.J. Brown. If those four plays go Houston’s way, they are an 8-8 team.
Houston’s Super Bowl chances rest on Watson’s shoulders. If he is the best quarterback in the NFL, Houston might sneak into the playoffs. With a quarterback as dominant as Watson can be, they have a chance in each playoff game. With a few timely stops, Houston could find itself in its first Super Bowl. In the Super Bowl, anything can happen.
Nearly everything in the Houston section applies to Jacksonville. If presumed No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence is a superstar from Week 1, Jacksonville can win any game. He has competent weapons around him such as DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault. The defense has several high-upside pieces that could make plays in close games. If the likes of Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, or C.J. Henderson join Myles Jack as a star-caliber player, Jacksonville could have flashes of being the 2017 “Sacksonville” defense.
New head coach Urban Meyer had a knack for winning big games, and if his persona rubs off on the Jaguars, they could be a sneaky good team in 2021. Tennessee and Indianapolis are not perfect teams. Lawrence has a chance to be the best quarterback in the division if Watson is traded and Tannehill and Wentz underperform. Lawrence is a generational prospect for a reason, after all.
Lastly, James Robinson will provide juice from the running back spot. He can help the offense ease into Lawrence’s control. Robinson could be the difference in a few early-season games while Lawrence learns the NFL.
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