The start of the NFL season is less than a month away with the defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicking us off with a home game against the Dallas Cowboys.
As is customary at this time of year, fans’ minds are filled with fantasy football conundrums and worries about whether their team has done enough in the of-season.
In this article we take a look at the main runners and riders in an attempt to predict who will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy in Inglewood, California next year. If you read all the way through and find no mention of your favourite team, unfortunately that means you’re in for another season of struggle and toil – we’re looking at you Detroit Lions and Houston Texans fans…
Kansas City Chiefs
Last season’s losing Super Bowl finalists will come into this season looking to right those wrongs, but have they done enough to improve on last season’s failings?
What went wrong last season?It’s hard to look at a team that came within a game of winning the Super Bowl and criticise them. The key to growth however, is analysing what went wrong and improving on it.
The Chiefs hierarchy will have watched on during last year’s Super Bowl and lamented their team’s lack of offensive options. At times in that game it appeared as if Patrick Mahomes would have to do it all on his own to drag his team over the line – that can’t continue this season if the Chiefs are to go one better.
Have they improved? Undoubtedly. And at DraftKings NFL odds page this is reflected. They are the favorites to win the Super Bowl, having brought in Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Orlando Brown in an attempt to reshape their offensive line.
There is also a return for Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff who opted out last season due to Covid concerns. Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith complete the Chiefs incoming list as decent depth options.
Will they go the distance? All things being equal, the Kansas City Chiefs should have a very good season this time around. The experience of losing to Tampa in last season’s game should provide Andy Reid’s men with all the motivation they need to go one better in February, 2022.
(Patrick Mahomes will be hoping for more support in offensive areas than he received in last season’s Super Bowl.)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coming in just behind the Chiefs in the betting odds are Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. The team and Brady were written off on occasion last season, can they become the first back-to-back Super Bowl winners since, erm, Tom Brady’s Patriots in 2004?
What went wrong last season? Relatively little. Everything seemed to click for Bruce Arians team as experienced players in key positions made the difference in tight games. The one area of concern for the Bucs would be their lack of depth at quarterback and the age of their defensive line.
Have they improved? It depends what you class as improvement. If resigning some of your key players from a Super Bowl winning season is defined as improvement, then definitely. If however, you see the addition of talented young players as improvement, then perhaps not.
The Bucs have brought in Hie Tryon and K.J. Britt but will be looking to their older heads once again for inspiration.
Will they go the distance? Logic dictates that Tom Brady will have to return to being a mere mortal at some point, but will that happen this season? Who knows? It would be foolish to write the former Patriots man off but if his performances do take a dip, expect the Bucs to struggle to repeat last seasons’ heroics.
(Can Tom Brady keep on turning back the clock for the Bucs?)
The Bills were one game from the Super Bowl last season after winning the AFC East for the first time since 1995. The performances of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs left Bills fans purring and they will be hoping that the duo can galvanise their side to more success next season.
What went wrong last season? Whilst things were relatively good for the Bills in offense, at the other end of the pitch there were big problems. They ranked 16th in the NFL for points per game allowed – that porous defense ultimately cost them against the Chiefs as they gave up 38 points in the AFC Championship Game.
Have they improved? Edge addition Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham should add an extra element of defensive steel to the Bills backline. On a macro level though we will have to wait and see what a summer on the training field has done to the Bills defensive resolve.
Will they go the distance? At this stage it is simply too hard to say. On the evidence of last season and their summer business it would be safe to say that the team haven’t regressed. However, as mentioned above, their fate will come down to what they have worked on in training these past few months.
(The Bills’ leaky defense was ultimately their undoing last season, will things have improved enough this season for them to win the Super Bowl?)
The above three teams are the main contenders for the Lombardi Trophy, but what about those teams with an outside chance that could surprise? Well, here are a few to think about:
Baltimore Ravens: It was a case different season same old story for Ravens fans last season but the additions of Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace could help to propel them to further heights this time around. They will need Lamar Jackson to improve on his passing though.
Green Bay Packers: They shouldn’t really be anywhere near contention but with Arron Rodgers returning with the bit between his teeth, perhaps the Packers can exceed expectations and give the reigning MVP something to savour?
Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford and Leonard Floyd will be key figures in the locker room for a Rams team that look complete, if not exceptional, in almost every area of the field. The stars will have to align for the LA team to win the Super Bowl, but stranger things have happened.
Think we’ve missed a team out? Let us know in the comments section below and be sure to give us reasons as to why your pick is the one to back.