How Every Team Can Win Super Bowl LVI: NFC Westby Ryan Potts July 24, 2021 2 comments
Training camp is upon us. 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 wrap up with the NFC West.
Having an elite quarterback helps, and when that quarterback is as volatile as Russell Wilson, Seahawks fans have every right to believe they can win the Super Bowl. Wilson is flanked by an exceptional duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, two of the top 25 wide receivers in the NFL. Chris Carson is a solid but uninspiring back. If Seattle can squeeze solid tight end production out of Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson, and Gerald Everett, it will only add to an offense that scored 27 or more points in its first eight games in 2020.
Historically, the offensive line has been shaky for Seattle in the Wilson era. However, Seattle may have the best unit since its Super Bowl days. Duane Brown is still one of the better tackles in the NFL. Brandon Shell trended upward in 2020. Gabe Jackson is a sturdy right guard. The issues come at left guard and center with some combination of Damien Lewis and Ethan Pocic. Seattle has 3.5/5ths (Lewis’ run blocking is stellar) of a good line. Development from Lewis and Pocic could turn Seattle into a genuine threat.
In the second year of Jamal Adams in Seattle, expect the former All-Pro to get back to form. Adams graded out in the upper 80s in PFF coverage grade in 2018 and 2019, so his 53.1 in 2020 is likely an aberration. When Adams returns to All-Pro form, Seattle will trot out a surprisingly sturdy defense. It’s no Legion of Boom, but it might be enough to deliver a second Super Bowl to Seattle. Seattle should get enough pressure from the pass rush to accompany a back seven with two superstars (Adams and Bobby Wagner) and a bevy of talented players.
Los Angeles Rams
Sean McVay and Jared Goff were a strong enough duo for the Rams to go 42-20 in 62 regular-season starts. However, the Rams upgraded massively at the quarterback position with the acquisition of Matthew Stafford. Even with the loss of Cam Akers which will hurt the running game and play-action game, the Rams will be significantly better than the 22nd scoring offense in football with Stafford at the helm. Despite playing for perhaps the most cursed organization in professional sports, Stafford hammered out a solid career. Over his last five seasons (since Calvin Johnson retired), he has a strong 96.0 passer rating.
Los Angeles had an elite defense in 2020, and much of the cast returns in 2021. Aaron Donald is once again leading the line with Jalen Ramsey holding down the secondary. John Johnson and Troy Hill have departed for Cleveland, but the Rams offer Darious Williams, Jordan Fuller, and Taylor Rapp who should do more than enough to patch over the holes. Even with a shaky linebacker room, the Rams project to be a top-10 defense again.
With an elite offense and elite defense, the Rams are one of the favorites in the top-heavy NFC. The Rams could very well go to their second Super Bowl in the McVay era.
Welcome to the Kyler Murray section. The weapons are competent. Arizona invested in the offensive line. The 2020 defense was in the top half of the NFL in scoring and total yardage, and they just added J.J. Watt and Zaven Collins to the unit that will get Chandler Jones for a full season. This is a playoff roster and a fringe Super Bowl contender outside of quarterback and head coach.
Murray has truly awe-inspiring moments. He has enough talent to be in the conversation for the No.1 overall pick in an all-time NFL Draft. Murray is that good, but the issue comes when he cannot string together good drive after good drive let alone good week after a good week. His flashes are comparable to even Patrick Mahomes. However, when you couple his inconsistency with Kliff Kingsbury, you get an offense that scored 44 total points against the No. 32-ranked Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers who were coming off a stretch between 2019 and 2020 that they had allowed at least 29 points in nine straight games (the only team ever to do so).
When it goes right for Arizona, it is special. Through nine games, Arizona cracked 30 points AND 400 yards in six different games (including the previous five). In their final seven games, the Cardinals scored 30 points and had 400 yards in just one game. They were held under 20 points three times and held under 300 yards three times.
When Arizona solves the consistency issues, it will win the Super Bowl. The ball is in your court, Kingsbury and Murray.
San Francisco 49ers
On Feb. 2, 2020, the 49ers were perhaps one play away from lifting the Lombardi. 17 months later, the 49ers are picking up the pieces on an incredibly disappointing 6-10 campaign. Just about every meaningful piece to San Francisco’s success in 2019 missed a chunk of 2020. However, most of the roster is back. Over the last two offseasons, San Francisco has bolstered the trenches with additions such as Trent Williams and Alex Mack on the offensive side. Trading away DeForest Buckner was painful, but they selected Javon Kinlaw with the compensation.
The 49ers were a respectable unit for most of 2020 even with a barrage of injuries. They had a 4-4 record with quarterbacks not named Nick Mullens under center. If San Francisco’s season goes to plan, Jimmy Garoppolo will play all 17 games. For all of Garoppolo’s shortcomings, he at least will provide a baseline of competent quarterback play. He has a 98.1 passer rating across 30 starts with the 49ers. If he can match the strong 102.0 he had in 2019, San Francisco will be right back in the Super Bowl mix.
With that said, San Francisco’s best option might be to embrace No. 3 pick Trey Lance and go all-in on a run-heavy offense. San Francisco ranked second in the NFL in both rush attempts and rush yards in 2019, and the use of Lance as a rushing threat should only help the Kyle Shanahan offense. Lance is raw as a passer, yes, but he is a high-floor option from Day 1 with his rushing ability.
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