Who’s Next in Line?

Posted: January 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Of the 32 teams in the NFL, 14 have never won a Super Bowl. That’s a staggering 44% of the league as a whole, a much higher total than Major League Baseball, which sees only 8 of their 30 teams without a World Series title. Of course, that percentage has a chance of shrinking in two weeks, as the Seattle Seahawks remain alive to win their first Vince Lombardi Trophy (and only the city’s second title of all time). With nearly half of the league possessing an empty trophy case, it’s time for SkoodSports to look at each of these franchises and rank them from 1-14, with one being the most likely to win a title in the short term and 14 being the least likely:

1. Seattle Seahawks 

The Seahawks, as mentioned above, are the default likeliest team to win a Super Bowl first because they remain alive in the final four this year. Seattle’s home-field-advantage should be enough to carry them to MetLife Stadium in two weeks for a chance at their first title against either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Good luck with that. The Seahawks have only been to one Super Bowl in their entire history, losing to the team with the most Super Bowl titles, the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005.

2. Carolina Panthers

Defense wins championships, and Carolina has one of the best units in the league. The Panthers thought this might finally be their year behind Luke Kuechly and Cam Newton, as Carolina earned a first round bye with an impressive string of victories to end the season. However, it just goes to show you that bye weeks can often come back to haunt teams that were scorching hot prior to the time off. Carolina still has a dynamic weapon at quarterback in Newton, and should be considered favorites to win the NFC South again in 2014. The Panthers, established in 1995, have only played in one Super Bowl, losing the New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

It seems strange to list the Eagles this high after all the letdowns they have levied on their fanbase in the past decade. But, with Chip Kelly and Nick Foles in the fold, they should be considered favorites to win their division again next year. The Eagles only played in one NFC Championship Game from 1961-2000, winning it before falling in Super Bowl XV to Oakland. From 2001-2008, the Eagles then played in 5 NFC title games, winning just one before succumbing to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. If Philadelphia improves their defense this offseason, they will be a chic pick to win the NFC in 2014.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals might have already won a title or two in the 1980s if it weren’t for the dynastic run of Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners won two of their five Super Bowls against Cincinnati in 1981 and 1989. Since then, the Bengals have yet to win a playoff game, having lost 5 consecutive postseason affairs under current coach Marvin Lewis. Still, Cincinnati has made it to the dance in three straight seasons. So, they have to be considered in the top half of this list regardless of their dramatic lack of success in the league’s second season.

5. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers would probably be ahead of Cincinnati if they didn’t play in such a difficult division. Oakland stinks. But, Denver and Kansas City aren’t going anywhere and San Diego has made it a habit of playing inconsistent football until December 1st. The Chargers, to their credit, have a strong offense led by Philip Rivers that, if it continues to improve, could be one of the best in football in 2014. San Diego’s only Super Bowl appearance came in a blowout at the hands of Steve Young and the 49ers in 1994.

6. Atlanta Falcons

A year ago, Atlanta would have been on top of this list. The Falcons were coming off of three consecutive playoff appearances, including an NFC Championship berth in 2012. But, one bad year in 2013 showed the deeply engraved flaws in this unit on both offense (where they lacked the depth to overcome injuries) and on defense (where they were just bad). If Atlanta can put together a strong offseason, they can jump back into competitiveness in the NFC South. After all, this is a division where the same team rarely wins it in back-to-back years. The Falcons have only been to one Super Bowl, a blowout loss to Denver in 1998.  

7. Detroit Lions

It seems odd to put Detroit, a team that has never even been to a Super Bowl, ahead of some of the more established teams on this list. But, the Lions have the weapons on both sides of the ball to be a dangerous team if they can ever get out of their own way. The jury is still out on Matt Stafford’s ability to win late in the season. But, Jim Caldwell has been to the Super Bowl in the past and it is not out of this world to think that Detroit could win the NFC North next year.

8. Arizona Cardinals

If the Cardinals can find a quarterback in the near-future, they could move up this list into the top-five. Head coach Bruce Arians has this team on the rise despite missing the playoffs with 10 wins this year. Their defense is young and stout while their offense possesses playmakers at receiver and running back. The Cardinals have long been one of the most tortured franchises in the league dating back to their St. Louis days. Arizona has reached just one Super Bowl, losing to Pittsburgh in 2008.

9. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings were always in the hunt from the late-60s to the late-2000s. That’s nearly forty years of competitiveness with no ring to show for it. Minnesota has reached four Super Bowls, losing in ’69, ’73, ’74, and ’76 with Bud Grant and Fran Tarkenton. They have since reached the NFC Championship Game three times, losing every single one. Still, Minnesota has a strong defensive core and Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson on offense. If they can find a competent gunslinger, watch out.

10. Houston Texans

It’s surprising to see the worst team in football ahead of others. But, Houston is coming off of division titles in 2011 and 2012. With an improvement at quarterback and in the secondary, the Texans could bounce back to legitimacy this season. The Texans have never been to the Super Bowl or advanced past the Divisional Round since their inception in 2002.

11. Tennessee Titans

Ken Whisenhunt joined Tennessee as their head coach this season. He helped lead the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance in 2008. As it stands, Tennessee has only been to one Super Bowl as either the Titans or the Houston Oilers. In that 1999-2000 game, Kevin Dyson was stopped one yard short of the goal line by Mike Jones as the Rams won their first and only Lombardi Trophy as time expired. Tennessee is sort of stuck in limbo at this point, as three consecutive mediocre seasons has raised questions at nearly every position.

12. Buffalo Bills

It’s tough to put the Bills ahead of anyone when it comes to ranking chances of winning a Super Bowl. Buffalo, losers of four consecutive big games in the early 1990s, has not even been to the playoffs since before the new millennium. The Music City Miracle, which saw the Titans upend the Bills in the 1999 Wild Card round, was the curse that has yet to be broken by Buffalo. At this point, the only saving grace that the Bills have over the two teams below them is stability at head coach and at quarterback. But, knowing this town and their team, it remains likely that neither Doug Marrone or EJ Manuel will be with the team in three or four years.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville was a bit of an enigma in the late-1990s. The 1995 expansion franchise soared to great heights early in their existence, reaching the AFC Championship Game in just their second season. The Jaguars would reach that plateau again in 1999. But, succumbed to Tennessee at home (the Titans were the only team all season long that the 14-2 Jaguars lost to). Jacksonville is still a mess. But, Gus Bradley brought that team a long way during his first campaign and that stability is enough to keep them out of the gutter amongst the league’s worst teams.

14. Cleveland Browns

Name me a worse franchise in league history? You can’t. The Browns, despite all their rich and historic nature, have never been to a Super Bowl. That includes such devastating defeats as the Ernest Byner fumble and “The Drive,” when John Elway and the Broncos drove 98 yards in 5 minutes to eventually defeat Cleveland in the 1987 AFC title game. The Browns won 8 championships prior to the Super Bowl’s creation. But, as of now, they seem farther than anyone with no coach, no leadership, and absolutely no quarterback.

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