How Every Team Can Win Super Bowl LVI: AFC Westby Ryan Potts April 6, 2021 1 comment
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 West.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are the two-time reigning AFC champions, securing Super Bowl 54. While they came up short in Super Bowl 55, one can expect the Chiefs to be competitive again in 2021. With Patrick Mahomes at the helm, the Chiefs can and probably will win any game they play. If Mahomes has a down game, Kansas City generally has someone on defense that steps up in a big way (see Denver game in 2020).
Beyond Mahomes, the Chiefs have an incredible array of talent. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill or perennial All-Pros at their positions, and the likes of Clyde Edwards-Helaire can fill in the gaps when needed. Defensively, Kansas City has an underrated roster with the likes of Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. For as much publicity as Mahomes and the rest of the offense gets, the Chiefs are a relatively well-rounded group.
As long as they don’t have massive injuries on the offensive line as they did in 2020, the Chiefs are the favorites to lift Super Bowl 56. Even with the massive offensive line injuries in 2020, the Chiefs were only a few plays away from winning Super Bowl 55. With Kyle Long and Joe Thuney coming to town, the Chiefs will be in a position to have a strong offensive line as opposed to the turnstile-like line they had in Super Bowl 55.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders have an interesting path to Super Bowl 56. Offensively, Vegas has one of the best offenses in the NFL. Defensively, Las Vegas cannot stop a nose bleed. While they can beat anyone in the NFL; they were the only team to beat a Mahomes-led Chiefs team before the Super Bowl, they can also lose by 37 in Atlanta. The Raiders are an “any given week” sort of team. The offense runs through Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller, two of the best players at their respective positions. Derek Carr is perennially underrated, and he has several weapons at his disposal including 2020 first-round pick Henry Ruggs and new acquisition John Brown.
The Raiders may lack in defensive talent, but they do have several pieces that could be good players moving forward. They handed Yannick Ngakoue a large contract to rush the passer, and Las Vegas could use much of their draft capital to improve the defense. While the defense may not be great, an average defense in 2021 could be the difference between Las Vegas finishing with eight wins and making the playoffs. While unlikely, the Raiders do have the kind of offense that can beat the Chiefs or any of the other powerhouse is in the AFC if necessary. The defense poses more questions than it answers, but as we have seen with the Chiefs, one does not need an elite defense to win a Super Bowl.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers are perhaps the most interesting team in any division moving into 2021. On the offense, Los Angeles has a budding star in Justin Herbert. Alongside Herbert, Los Angeles has several weapons including Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen. While the departure of Hunter Henry hurts, the Chargers could look to draft a tight end in the draft. Moving to the defense, the Chargers will get Derwin James back into the fold, a former All-Pro. Alongside James, the Chargers have the likes of Joey Bosa and 2020 first-round pick Kenneth Murray. Bosa is one of the best players regardless of position, and Murray should be a stalwart moving forward.
Even the Achilles’ heel of the recent Chargers teams: the offensive line, has been addressed in free agency. Los Angeles paid for All-Pro center Corey Linsley to join the squad, and they could select a Day 1 starter at left tackle with the 13th pick. Los Angeles could also trade for disgruntled Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown from Baltimore, or they could just take the best offensive lineman available with the 13th pick. The Chargers offer great upside, and they might be worth placing a few dollars on to win Super Bowl 56.
Disregard the quarterback for a moment.
The Denver Broncos will have a strong rushing attack bolstered by a good offensive line and Melvin Gordon in the backfield. From a wide receiver standpoint, Denver has talented options such as Courtland Sutton, 2020 first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler. Tight Ends Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam will help out as well. Defensively, Denver has one of the best rosters in the NFL. With Von Miller back in the fold, Denver has stars on all three levels. Justin Simmons is as good as it gets from the safety position, and the likes of Bradley Chubb and Alexander Johnson fill out the middle. Shelby Harris is one of the better interior linemen in the NFL, and new acquisition Kyle Fuller was a former All-Pro cornerback with Vic Fangio in Chicago. Fangio will have the defense competitive regardless of the personnel, but the personnel is excellent.
This brings us to the elephant in the room: Drew Lock. Lock did not have the best of 2020 seasons. He must carry most of the workload if the Broncos are going to take a step forward in 2021. John Elway and co. have organized one of the best rosters outside of quarterback in the NFL. However, it is dependent on Lock being successful. If Lock has another terrible season, Denver will be glued to the bottom of the AFC West. However, in this universe, Lock play is much better and Denver can be competitive with any team. With a poised Drew Lock, Denver can win the Super Bowl.