If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeat as Super Bowl champions, it wouldn’t surprise many NFL fans. Should Kansas City find its way back to the big game and win a second Super Bowl in three seasons, that would not surprise many fans either. If Indianapolis won this coming season’s Lombardi Trophy, you can bet that would shock the NFL world.
The Colts are among five teams that could surprise everyone by winning this year’s Super Bowl. Here’s a look at the candidates.
They have the best offensive line in the NFL. The Colts have a running game that punishes opponents and that will make it much easier for new quarterback Carson Wentz to have success in the passing game. Remember, Colts head coach Frank Reich was the Eagles offensive coordinator when Wentz enjoyed his best seasons in Philadelphia.
Indy also has one of the better defenses in the league. The Colts were second against the run (90.5 yards per game) last season and allowed 22.6 points per game (10th overall). With a strong defense, an outstanding running game, and an improved Wentz at quarterback; the Colts have all the makings of a Super Bowl contender.
It’s make-or-break time for Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona. The former Texas Tech head coach who made an unprecedented leap to the NFL needs to make it happen in Year 3. Last season, Kingsbury and the Cardinals were 6-3 after nine games and right in the thick of the NFC playoff race. Then, they finished 2-5.
The talent is there. QB Kyler Murray is outstanding and now he’ll have even more weapons on offense. The Cardinals signed A.J. Green in the offseason and added former Purdue star Rondale Moore in the draft. J.J. Watt comes in to add to a defense that drafted Zaven Collins out of Tulsa. The biggest problem for Arizona is simply their division. The Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers are all potential playoff teams. So are the Cardinals.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Chiefs continue to dominate the AFC West, but this is the year the Chargers begin to fight back. The biggest reasons for the Chargers' ability to get to a Super Bowl are the play of QB Justin Herbert and the hiring of new head coach Brandon Staley.
Herbert was the Chargers' first pick in last year’s draft. He won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2020. The young Chargers QB has all the makings of a bona fide NFL stud at the position. Without an elite quarterback, teams do not have a chance at winning it all. The Chargers have one, but it’s not just about the quarterback.
Staley brings with him the defense that led the NFL last season in almost every category. Staley was the Rams' former defensive coordinator who has some serious talent in L.A. if he can keep them all healthy. DE Joey Bosa is an All-Pro as is safety Derwin James. The Chargers need to improve on the 27 sacks they recorded in 2020, but Staley will take care of that. If he does, don’t be surprised if the Chargers find their way to the Super Bowl.
Yes, the Cowboys went a disappointing 6-10 in 2020, but remember, they lost starting QB Dak Prescott in Week 5. With Prescott back in the lineup – and with his new four-year, $160 million contract – the Cowboys' offense should once again be among the best in the NFL. Before going down with his injury last season, Prescott had thrown for 450 yards-plus in three consecutive games. In 2019, he finished second in the NFL in passing with 4,902 yards.
Dallas will have to improve on defense, but that is highly likely in 2021. The Cowboys hired new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and brought in players like No. 1 draft pick Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, Kelvin Joseph, and more. The defense shouldn’t finish 31st against the run in 2021 or 23rd overall and that difference is what can propel the Cowboys to Super Bowl LVI.
The Browns and the Super Bowl are two things that just don’t go together. Cleveland is one of just four franchises – Detroit, Jacksonville, and Houston are the others – that has never even played in a Super Bowl. This year could be different.
Cleveland went 11-5 last season and won a playoff game in 2020. The Browns have an outstanding running game led by RB Nick Chubb and a roster that is built for the postseason. The club added Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason and will return WR Odell Beckham Jr. who tore an ACL in Week 7 last season. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has all the tools needed to take the Browns a couple of steps further in 2021.