Why Every Team Won’t Win Super Bowl LVI: NFC Westby Ryan Potts August 3, 2021 0 comments
With the preseason days away, 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 close out the series by looking at the NFC West.
Russell Wilson is the king of the first half, but sadly for Seahawks fans, the Super Bowl is at the end of the season. The general inconsistencies of Wilson and the Seattle offense as a whole keep the Seahawks from realizing their true potential and winning the franchise’s second title. In 2021, Wilson will have two star receivers, an improved offensive line, and the usual cast of competent running backs led by Chris Carson. Is this enough to win a Super Bowl? The world will never know the answer to that question as long as Wilson continues to base his performance on a coin flip.
Defensively, Seattle is good enough to make the playoffs, but they are a far cry from the elite Legion of Boom era defenses. Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams are superstars, but they both slipped slightly in 2020, and the NFC West as a whole got better over the offseason. Seattle lost its top cornerback in Shaquill Griffin, hurting an already weak group of corners. Entering 2021, Seattle has more questions than answers on the defensive side of the ball. Even if Wagner and Adams return to peak performance, that makes up just two of 11 slots on the defense.
Los Angeles Rams
By the end of the Jared Goff era in Los Angeles, he had become almost slightly underrated. Goff was certainly a limited quarterback, and his role as a conduit for Sean McVay’s brain is a correct assessment of Goff’s career with the Rams, however, he still often executed the game plan. Goff could make the vast majority of throws one could ask an NFL quarterback to make, but he adds little in the way of improvisation. Goff’s replacement, Matthew Stafford, adds one of the best improvisation senses in the NFL, but it adds volatility to the Rams offense. Sure, Stafford will make more spectacular plays than Goff, but he will also make more unforced errors. Los Angeles will be playing with fire.
The Rams had an elite defense in 2020. While they bring back their two best players (Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey), two of their key secondary pieces now reside in Cleveland. John Johnson is a premier safety, and his absence forces Los Angeles to scramble to cover. Similarly, Troy Hill had a breakout season as a slot corner. Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley remained in Los Angeles, but he is the head coach of the Chargers now. Continuity is often a key cog in retaining an elite defense, but with three pieces gone, expect the Rams to slip from their placement in 2021.
For as talented as Kyler Murray is, he has yet to consistently play at a high level in the NFL. He has individual moments and a handful of drives, but there is little evidence that Murray is a top-10 quarterback. If this continues into 2021, the Cardinals will likely underachieve as they did after starting 2020 with a 6-3 record. Arizona has enough of a supporting cast to propel Murray into a high-profile quarterback ranking, but he has yet to live that reality. Murray needs a Year 3 leap for the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl.
If the Cardinals were to trade Chandler Jones, they would be effectively closing their Super Bowl window in 2021. This trade is far from a guarantee, but the self-destruct button is looming. Without Jones, the Cardinals would have an average (at best) pass rush led by a past-his-prime J.J. Watt. 2014 Watt would forcefully open the Super Bowl window, but this Watt has cobbled together one elite season and four disappointing seasons since his last Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2015. Even with a solid linebacker corps and one of the better secondaries in the NFL, Arizona would lack the pass rush to seriously compete for a Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers
If the 49ers start Jimmy Garoppolo, they are announcing to the world that they are punting the 2021 season. Counterintuitively, Trey Lance brings both a higher floor and higher ceiling to the 49ers’ offense. Lance’s baseline rushing ability is more than enough to put the 49ers in a position to win double-digit games (in the same vein as the 2018 Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson). Lance is an unproven commodity with fewer than 500 career dropbacks at the college level, but the best way to fix the issue is to throw Lance into the fire. With Lance at the helm, San Francisco has a floor of a top-10 offense. With Garoppolo at the helm, the 49ers will not win the Super Bowl. In the scope of this article, the 49ers chose Garoppolo.
One of the generally unfounded assumptions that many have in NFL circles is that the 49ers will have an elite defense in 2021. They have elite pieces (namely Fred Warner and Nick Bosa), but the unit as a whole has lost a significant amount of talent since its 2019 run to the Super Bowl. Javon Kinlaw is a knockoff version of DeForest Buckner. Kwon Alexander and Richard Sherman are also gone from the Super Bowl roster. It should be a middle-of-the-pack defense, but with a new defensive coordinator in DeMeco Ryans, nothing is guaranteed for the 49ers in 2021.
Are you an optimist? All four of these teams have a chance to win the Lombardi.
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