5 Teams With the Best Chance to Win Super Bowl LII
Super Bowl LI, free agency, and the combine are officially in the rear view mirror. The first three rounds of the 2017 NFL draft have been completed, the schedule for the season has been set, and we’re ready to evaluate which teams have the best shot at hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. So without further ado, here are the five teams with the best chance at winning Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
- New England Patriots
The defending champions are coming off a dominant 17–2 season which culminated in the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. Rather than staying put in the offseason, New England has been aggressive, adding star wide receiver Brandin Cooks and top free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore. They added depth to their roster with the additions of running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, tight end Dwayne Allen, and defensive linemen Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy.
Not only have the Patriots bolstered their roster with new arrivals, but they also re-signed linebacker Dont’a Hightower, cornerback Malcolm Butler, defensive lineman Alan Branch, and safety Duron Harmon. The Patriots have no glaring weaknesses as they are clearly the most well-coached team in professional sports. Look for the Patriots to come out of the gates firing as they look to win their sixth Super Bowl title.
2. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas is coming off an NFC-best 13–3 regular season led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, but their Divisional Round playoff loss to the Packers at home ended their impressive season on a sour note. Dallas boasts arguably the best offensive line in football, which helped Ezekiel Elliott rush for 1,631 yards in his rookie season out of Ohio State.
On defense, the Cowboys only gave up an average of 19.1 points per game in 2016, fifth best in the NFL. The Cowboys are well-equipped for their first season in the post-Romo era, and their young QB-RB duo has fans buzzing in Dallas.
3) Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders 2016 season showed a lot of promise, with a number of tight victories on the road. However, their season took a turn for the worse when Derek Carr suffered a season-ending leg injury in their week 16 game against the Colts, and the 12–4 Raiders dropped to a wild card spot and lost to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card playoffs. Oakland signed running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement and tight end Jared Cook to help improve an already dangerous offense.
The Raiders have three key question marks going into the 2017 season: how Derek Carr will recover from his injury, how Marshawn Lynch will perform after a brief retirement, and their defense which allowed the 26th most yards per game in 2016. Behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, I expect Carr and company to win the AFC West and potentially make a deep run in the AFC playoffs.
4) Atlanta Falcons
Despite losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, 2016 league MVP Matt Ryan should be able to run another scary Atlanta offense. The defending NFC champions will open a brand new stadium in 2017, and they have the fire power on offense to make a return trip to the Super Bowl. As was shown throughout their playoff run last season, stopping the likes of Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, the rest of their offense is no easy task.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator for Seattle’s vaunted defenses in 2013 and 2014, and he appears to have laid the ground work for another dominant defense in Atlanta. Despite being ranked just 27th in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed, the Falcons young defense had a strong playoff run, led by Deion Jones, Vic Beasley, and Keanu Neal. If the defense can take a step forward under Quinn, this team has a very good chance of winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
5) Green Bay Packers
This Packers team starts and finishes with Aaron Rodgers. Arguably the most physically talented quarterback in NFL history, Rodgers is coming off a season in which he threw for 4,428 yards and 40 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. The Packers started the season with a 4–6 record before winning the last six regular season games to win the NFC North.
Green Bay has added tight end Martellus Bennett and guard Jahri Evans to keep their offense among the league’s best, but their defense ranked 21st in points allowed last season. The Atlanta Falcons were able to take advantage of Green Bay’s weaknesses in the secondary in the NFC Championship Game, so it will be key for the Packers defense to perform better this season.