DESPITE the stranglehold that New England continues to have on the NFL, each year presents an opportunity for every team to claim the league’s highest honour. As it stands right now there are 12 NFL teams that have never tasted success on the games biggest stage, but 2019 could change that for one lucky squad. Some franchises are much closer to realising that dream than others and a few candidates are building their case to finally break through with their first Super Bowl win in this upcoming season.
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Better Luck In 2020
FOR a variety of reasons there are seven teams who have yet to taste ultimate glory that’ll be left waiting at least another season. Whether it be through injury issues, a lack of guidance from the coaches/front office, subpar roster talent, questionable offseason decisions or one of the other 101 reasons an NFL team annually struggles, here are the squads on the outside looking in.
Arizona Cardinals – Last appearance 2008, 0-1 Super Bowl record
Atlanta Falcons – Last appearance 2016, 0-2 Super Bowl record
Buffalo Bills – Last appearance 1993, 0-4 Super Bowl record
Carolina Panthers – Last appearance 2015, 0-2 Super Bowl record
Cincinnati Bengals – Last appearance 1988, 0-2 Super Bowl record
Detroit Lions – Never made a Super Bowl
Tennessee Titans – Last appearance 1999, 0-1 Super Bowl record
The Top 5 Contenders
5. Cleveland Browns – Never made a Super Bowl
AFTER their second straight successful offseason the Browns will enter 2019 with high expectations. The growth of now sophomore QB Baker Mayfield will be a big measuring stick with former LSU duo Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham reunited in Ohio to catch deep balls from the former Heisman winner. John Dorsey did much more than acquire Beckham this past summer though, with key defensive additions through the draft and the trade period to strengthen the other side of the ball. A wide-open AFC North could be there’s for the taking with a division win guaranteeing an end of a now 16 season-long postseason drought. If they do claim the North there’s no telling how far this exciting team can go.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Never made a Super Bowl
REPLACING Blake Bortles for Nick Foles under center is like trading in a Volkswagon for a shiny red Ferrari. Sure, that Ferarri comes with some mileage on the odometer and engine/health issues, but it’s not every day you get the chance to add a Super Bowl MVP who bested Tom Brady in the big dance. Bringing his quarterback coach from that successful 2017 tenure to call the shots for Jacksonville’s offense is a smart investment too and Nick Foles’ play will dictate just how far the Jags can go in 2019. Buoyed by stars across each line in defense, it’s up to Foles and the rest of the offense to turn a team that averaged 15 points a game last year into a legitimate contender.
3. Houston Texans – Never made a Super Bowl
IN the last decade the Houston Texans have been a rather successful franchise, but they’ve failed to breakthrough in the playoffs. Since 2010 the Texans have won five AFC South crowns, but that has only translated to a 3-5 postseason record. Throughout that dominant stretch, J.J. Watt has been the key contributor, but he’s no longer a lone force. Jadeveon Clowney’s holdout causes some concern, but the connection between Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins on offense has Texan fans dreaming big. Could this finally be the year they win multiple playoff games?
2. Minnesota Vikings – Last appearance 1976, 0-4 Super Bowl record
THE Vikings were my preseason pick to win it all last year, but things never meshed for Minnesota in Kirk Cousins’ first season with the franchise. He did manage to play all 16 games and throw for over 4,200 yards, however, inconsistencies led to some ugly losses and ultimately a failed season. This campaign is equally filled with promise after offseason tweaks to the roster in an effort to challenge for a Super Bowl in 2019. There is plenty of star power on their team sheet, but for Minnesota to fulfil the wish of every Vikings fan, they’ll need a much more consistent effort on a weekly basis. I have high hopes they can do just that.
1. Los Angeles Chargers – Last appearance 1994, 0-1 Super Bowl record
PHILIP Rivers has been a Charger longer than anyone tied with the franchise. As he prepares for his 16th NFL season it’s no secret to point out his days are numbers in L.A. powder blue, meaning this year could be his last legitimate shot at winning it all. Losing to New England in the postseason last year will only further ignite the fire in this Los Angeles outfit, with young defensive playmakers Derwin James and Joey Bosa ready to become All-Pro calibre players. Melvin Gordon’s contractual saga could hamper any plans they have of contending, but the strength of their roster across the board is too good for the Chargers to be a non-factor in the quest for Super Bowl LIV.