The 2017 season is underway, and many predictions have gone around for who will make it to Super Bowl LII. Many teams have shown that they can play around with the top dogs in the NFL, but it takes a lot more to make it to the Super Bowl. There are many teams that have played well in the regular season, and completely dropped the ball once it came time to the playoffs. The Super Bowl is considered one of the biggest sports events throughout the year, and it also may be considered one of the toughest goals to reach. With football being a complete team sport, it makes it very difficult for teams to make it that far.
Many of the greatest players in NFL history have never made it that far including stars like Tony Romo, Dan Marino, and Barry Sanders. With competition rising in the NFL, it makes it tougher to get back to the Super Bowl. With many teams getting more and more experienced, or other teams getting older, it gives other teams a disadvantage who are trying to make it to the greatest event in sports. With the season finally here, and many new changes, it only makes sense to break down which teams will and will not make it to the Super Bowl.
15 Could Make It: New England Patriots
It would be a little ridiculous not to believe that the New England Patriots could possibly make it to Super Bowl LII, as they are the favorites of the AFC to make it back to the Super Bowl. This Patriots team has a great chance at making it back to the Super Bowl in 2018, and with a better team. The Patriots this offseason stacked up with new additions such as Brandin Cooks, Stephon Gillmore, and Mike Gillislee. This team’s roster looks better than ever, although they will miss their star wide receiver in Julian Edelman.
As long as there is a Tom Brady and a Bill Belichick, there is a chance that this Patriots team will make the Super Bowl. With this team being so balanced, it’s really difficult for teams to try and figure out how to stop the Patriots and take over the throne.
14 No Chance: Arizona Cardinals
This Cardinals team had a great shot at making a nice run for it to the Super Bowl before the 2017 season started, but once the season begun, it seemed that everything went downhill. To start off, Carson Palmer played awful Week One against a pretty poor secondary in the Detroit Lions, throwing three interceptions. But that’s not even the worst of it. The Cardinals suffered a huge loss when they found out that David Johnson will be missing at least 2-3 months due to a wrist injury. For many fans, they drafted Johnson very high on their fantasy teams and believed that Johnson would be a huge part in helping this team succeed this season. Without Johnson, the Cardinals are going to be relying heavily on Carson Palmer. After seeing Palmer’s start to this season, it seems that this team has absolutely no shot at making it to the Super Bowl.
13 Could Make It: Atlanta Falcons
Another team that is really hard to count out this season to make it to the Super Bowl is the Atlanta Falcons. After blowing a 28-3 lead, this Falcons team should have more motivation than any team in the league to make it back to the Super Bowl. But that isn’t a reason to expect them to make it there. This team pretty much maintained everyone, while drafting Takkarist McKinley. After McKinley had a great preseason, expectations seem to be pretty high. With more experience, this team could be a real threat in the NFC South. Their experience will also be very helpful during the season and into the playoffs.
After Ryan’s performance last season, expect him to carry that motivation all season and take it out on opposing defenses. Expectations are high, and the Falcons have a great chance at making it back to the place they once fell apart at last season.
12 No Chance: Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks just seem to not be the same team they were a few years ago. The Legion Of Boom secondary is still more or less intact, but the team doesn't have the same aura they did before the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX when New England mounted a 10-point comeback on them and of course, the whole Marsshawn Lynch fiasco happened. However, the main reason Seattle doesn't seem to have a chance is due to their atrocious offensive line play. The o-line has been neglected the past few years and Russell Wilson is paying the price for it. He hasn't been able to push the ball downfield and the team can't get their running game going. Those were all intricate parts of them making it to two straight Super Bowls, but this team doesn't seem to have that formula anymore.
11 Could Make It: Green Bay Packers
As long as Aaron Rodgers is under center for the Green Bay Packers, this team has a shot at history no matter whoever else is on the roster. This team had a great run last season, and may have had a better run if they were able to stay healthy. A huge injury with Jordy Nelson took away Rodger’s favorite receiver, but he still was able to make it work. The Packers added some great players to this team throughout the offseason though. Some of these additions include Martellus Bennett and Kevin King.
With some improvements on the defensive side, a healthy Nelson back, and a powerful tight end joining the team, this Packers team may look better than they ever have within the past few years. It seems time that Rodgers is due for a Super Bowl run, and with this Packers team looking balanced, this may be their year.
10 No Chance: Houston Texans
This Texans team is young, and the future is bright, but right now they are still in the process of putting together this team. This defense is great, but the offense has a lot to work on. With rookie Deshaun Watson under center, it would be ridiculous to believe that he has a chance to make it to the Super Bowl in year one. He’s a playmaker, but he has struggled through the air to start the season. The run game also hasn’t been much of a help, as Lamar Miller has seen majority of the carries. The Texans seemed that they would have a great shot at the Super Bowl before this season started, but after seeing Watson start this season off, it’s evident that he has some work to do. He definitely seems to be the better quarterback over Tom Savage, but he still needs a lot more reps and time to develop into becoming a winning quarterback in this league.
9 Could Make It: Oakland Raiders
There’s a great chance that if Derek Carr didn’t go down last season with a season ending injury, the Raiders may have been in the Super Bowl. Now a season later, the Raiders improved through the offseason, and Carr comes back with some more experience. The Raiders upgraded dramatically in the run game, when they brought Marshawn Lynch to Oakland as he came out of retirement. Beast Mode may be a year out from the game, but he still seems to have it, and is a complete difference maker each week.
The Raiders needed a tight end, and they went and grabbed to what seems to be the next star of a tight end in Jared Cook. Cook made a fantastic catch last season against the Dallas Cowboys, which helped the Packers head to the NFC Championship game. And of course, this team needed some help in the secondary, in which they drafted Ohio State Buckeye, Gareon Conley. It seems that the Raiders brought in some key players, on top of a team that has the talent to be great for years.
8 No Chance: Carolina Panthers
Just two years ago, we saw the Carolina Panthers go 15-1 and make it to Super Bowl 50. Now, we’re here talking about how they have no shot at making Super Bowl LII. The Panthers seemed to have been figured out during that Super Bowl, as he was not able to deal with the pressure against him, which led to the loss. Newton has been too inconsistent to lead this team back to the Super Bowl, and also takes way too many hits. This offensive line has struggled, and doesn’t seem to have gotten any better. They drafted Christian McCaffrey this offseason to hopefully improve the run game, but without a solid offensive line, McCaffrey won’t be able to go anywhere. And with Newton’s medical history, it seems that his chances of making it to the Super Bowl are further than many would have expected two years ago.
7 Could Make It: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were one game out away from the Super Bowl last year when they lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Without any additions, this team looks like a team that can make it to the Super Bowl. Their trio that includes Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, is so dominant that it’s scary for defending teams. This team needed some work on defense, and they got some help through the offseason. They used their first overall draft pick on T.J. Watt, who seems to have been a steal playing at a high level. The Steelers are also lucky to see that Martavis Bryant is back on the field playing this season. With some help in the pass rush, and a new receiver for Big Ben to throw to, this team looks better than the team that went to the AFC Championship Game last season.
6 No Chance: Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are only one whole season removed from a Super Bowl 50 victory that was on the back of their vaunted defense. Despite horrendous QB play last year, the Broncos still fielded a good football team. This year, the team is off to an impressive start, including a drubbing of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2. The defense looks as good as ever, but the big difference early on has been the improvement of Trevor Siemian. However, it's still the early stages and with a rookie head coach, a young QB and perhaps the toughest division in football in the AFC West, Denver is going to be in tough to go through the AFC. It's hard to see this Denver offense getting through Kansas City and New England en route to a potential Super Bowl.
5 Could Make It: Dallas Cowboys
The team that boosted ratings through the roof last year on television, may make it to the place that everyone wants them. This Dallas Cowboys team has received so much criticism in the past few years due to their failures, and this may be the year that they make it to the Super Bowl. There is a good shot that Ezekiel Elliot plays throughout this season, which helps this team dramatically. But even if Elliott is unable to play, this team is so balanced that it could match up well against any opposing team.
Dak Prescott going into year two will have more experience, and a full season with this first team offense to study the playbook and fully take advantage of his weapons. Expect to see more work from Terrance Williams and Brice Butler as Prescott fully learns to utilizes all the receivers he has. The offense looks set, but this defense may actually look better than last year, even after losing their whole secondary. Byron Jones has looked dominant at safety, after he got a lot of experience last season. Chidobe Awuzie as looked phenomenal, playing extremely well against the pass. And the best part, this defensive line has looked great. Against the New York Giants, this team looked like a bull rush after Eli Manning. This year may be the year that this Cowboys team takes the Lombardi Trophy home to Dallas.
4 No Chance: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Buccaneers team is going to look great this season, but it may take more than this year to get where they want to be. With a lot of new additions, this team may take a while to develop some chemistry. And with a young quarterback in Jameis Winston, that could take some time. Winston is a good quarterback, but he still makes some more decisions, and those decisions will cost them from making it to the Super Bowl. Also, this running game needs to step it up. There’s only so much Winston can do to keep these Bucs in the game, and that eventually leads to some costly mistakes. This defense looks good, and will help them stay in games, but for this season, I don’t trust Winston to stay perfect throughout to lead his team to the Super Bowl.
3 Could Make It: New York Giants
The Giants have surprised us over the years, making a late run for it, eventually running all the way into the Super Bowl and defeating the New England Patriots. This Giants team is even better. The only real flaws on this Giants team are the run game and the offensive line, besides that, this team looks dominant. This defense was ranked one of the top defenses in 2016, and comes back all together, with an upgraded offense. This team may have lost Victor Cruz, but they gained Evan Engram and Brandon Marshall, two huge targets. With more targets that are very good, this makes it hard for defenses to prepare against the Giants, as they also have to prepare on how to specifically cover Odell Beckham Jr.
It doesn’t seem that OBJ’s injury is anything serious, so he should be back to his old form early on this season. Once OBJ is back, teams are going to struggle against the pass, as well as struggling to move the ball against the vicious defense.
2 No Chance: Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith has started this season off great, which may lead many fans to believing this may be the year that the Chiefs are able to take it all. And the Chiefs look good enough to do so, but it’s hard to trust Smith to take this team to beat teams like the Patriots, Steelers and Raiders. Brady played awful against the Chiefs, so the Chiefs took advantage. But what happens when Brady is playing better? How will this team react? Alex Smith needs to play the way he played against the Patriots every single week. But what happened against the Patriots, doesn’t seem that it will happen week in and week out.
Kareem Hunt, who most fans probably didn’t know who he was until week one, dominated and had an insane game. His production lead to a big part in the success of the Chiefs. Brady was also just throwing the ball all over the place. I would have to take Brady, Roethlisberger, or Carr, to outplay Smith in a playoff game any day, which is why this Chiefs team stands no shot at making it to the Super Bowl. We also can't overlook Andy Reid's constant playoff shortcomings as a coach. The Chiefs would likely have to go through New England to get to the Super Bowl and it's hard to envision Andy Reid outdueling Belichick in a big game.
1 Could Make It: Minnesota Vikings
And here are the underdogs of the 2017 season: The Minnesota Vikings. After collapsing last season after a great start, many forgot how well these Vikings played to start the season. And in 2017, these Vikings are off to a great start once again. Except this time, it seems the Vikings will have a better chance at succeeding throughout the whole season. Bradford played phenomenal having the best completion percentage in a single season last year, and this season so far, he looks just as great, and even more aggressive. Stefon Diggs looks like he could be a real playmaker this season, which is something this Vikings have needed.
The Vikings also needed a running back as Adrian Peterson is no longer with them, so they drafted the former Florida State running back, Dalvin Cook. Cook looks to do it all, both on the ground and through the air. Cook looks like the perfect back to help do everything Bradford needs of him to help alleviate some of the pressure off of him. And to go with all of this, this defense is back. This defense seemed just as scary as the Giants, and comes back more experienced. Expect this Vikings team to be a shocker in the NFC.
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