The Super Bowl is the world’s biggest sporting event. Before the current season’s champion is even crowned, writers and oddsmakers evaluate and predict the game’s participants for the following year. Why stop there? If bigger is better, why not reveal the next 15 Super Bowl champions?
Take a look at recent AFC playoff history. Since 2001, the AFC Super Bowl representative has been quarterbacked by Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning in all but two years. Rich Gannon led the Raiders to the Super Bowl in 2002 before the three-man alliance was solidified. Joe Flacco managed to sneak into the game in 2012. The fact that three quarterbacks made 14 of the last 16 championship games is astounding, and begrudgingly impressive – but don’t fear. Manning rode off into the sunset after Super Bowl 50. Roethlisberger has admitted pondering retirement with each successive offseason. Meanwhile, Robert Kraft has claimed Brady plans on playing another six or seven years. That would mean retiring at 46 in 2023. Father Time might have something to say about that. The AFC landscape will shift soon enough. The changing of the old guard is coming.
The NFC has sent 13 different quarterbacks in the same time frame, ranging from the likes of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers to Brad Johnson and Rex Grossman. In other words, it’s wide open and will continue to be. Almost every team in the 2016 NFC playoffs had a legitimate chance to reach the Super Bowl. Who honestly predicted the Panthers’ or Falcons’ post-season runs the last two seasons?
Here’s where readers luck out. Inspired by the events of Back to the Future Part II, I have recently acquired a copy of Grays Sports Almanac: Complete Sports Statistics 2000-2050. In an act of pure selflessness, I will share the results from 2017 to 2032. So, take out a second mortgage on the house. Bet any amount your heart desires. What follows below is absolute fact.
15 Super Bowl LII (02/04/2018): New England Patriots Defeat Green Bay Packers
The quarterback battle of the century pits Tom Brady, the quarterback with the greatest resume of all time, against Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback with arguably the most pure talent in NFL history. New England’s addition of Brandin Cook pays dividends, as Brady matches his age with 40 touchdowns on the season, the most since his record-breaking 2007 campaign. The Patriots once again steamroll through the AFC side of the playoffs. After an 0-3 start thanks to a brutal schedule, Aaron Rodgers utters an encouraging statement in a local radio interview. ESPN picks up the quote and refuses to air a SportCenter episode without playing the soundbite. Suddenly, Green Bay’s trio of young cornerbacks (Randall, Rollins and Gunter) awakes from their collective 2016 sophomore slump. The adequate defensive play provides Rodgers all the support he needs to drag the Packers into the playoffs. The lights of the big game shine too brightly, however, as Brady abuses the lackadaisical secondary. Rodgers’ comeback falls short, once again the victim of a feeble defensive outing in the postseason. Brady pledges to continue playing. New England considers franchise tagging Jimmy Garoppolo and trading him to the highest bidder, but ultimately balks at the possibility of a $20 million backup. Garoppolo tests the free agent waters and supplants Alex Smith in Kansas City.
14 Super Bowl LIII (02/03/2019): Houston Texans Over Dallas Cowboys
The 2016 Houston Texans were an average quarterback away from seriously contending for the Super Bowl. Instead, the team languished with an overgrown beanstalk of inaccuracy behind center. The void remains during the 2017 season after Tony Romo opts for CBS. However, Houston's luck finally turns around in the 2018 offseason. The Saints and Drew Brees part ways following their fifth 7-9 record in six years. New Orleans recognizes the need for a full rebuild, and Brees desperately wants a Super Bowl shot in the waning days of his career. The Texans becomes a perfect landing spot. The Brees-Hopkins tandem quickly achieves unstoppable status. Houston’s ferocious defense establishes a balance that lands the franchise in its first ever Super Bowl. In the NFC, Cowboys haters panic as Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot finally end the mockery of Dallas’ 2-8 postseason record since 1996. Sports media runs wild with the "Battle for Texas" Super Bowl narrative. Two Deandre Hopkins touchdown receptions and a Lamar Miller goal line plunge prove too much in the end. A game-ending Prescott interception offers a poetic moment - Tony Romo provides commentary on what went wrong for Dallas as the CBS Super Bowl broadcast cuts away to Jerry Jones’ tears, prompting a meme that rivals the Crying Jordan.
13 Super Bowl LIV (02/02/2020): Atlanta Falcons Defeat Kansas City Chiefs
After years of hitting a ceiling with Alex Smith as quarterback, the Chiefs look to get over the hump in their second season with Jimmy Garoppolo. Kansas City’s strength is still defense, but Garoppolo slowly breaks the offense out of their conservative funk. As 2nd seed in the AFC, The Chiefs dismantle Brady’s Patriots before taking out Big Ben at Heinz Field in a slugfest. Roethlisberger retires shortly after the devastating loss. The Falcons never return to the offensive heights of the Kyle Shanahan years, but Matt Ryan keeps things rolling. The Dan Quinn-led defense catches up on the other side of the ball thanks to the playmaking ability of Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and Vic Beasley. After rolling through the playoffs, the Falcons reach the their second Super Bowl in four years. They start off fast, overwhelming the Chiefs in all facets of the game. With time in the third quarter dwindling, the Falcons lead 21-0. Tyreek Hill breaks out an 84-yard punt return to the Falcons’ six-yard line. Atlanta fans cringe. Twitter prepares for a roast. Is there another meltdown in the making? No. Hill fumbles on a second down end-around. Atlanta turns the mistake into more points and comfortably wins their elusive first Super Bowl.
12 Super Bowl LV (02/07/2021): New York Giants Defeat Cleveland Browns
Tom Brady’s post-Garoppolo era in New England is marred by injury and a rapid drop-off in skill. The wear and tear of the NFL finally catches up. After missing the 2018 playoffs and falling to Garoppolo’s Chiefs in 2019, Belichick makes one of his classic, cutthroat decisions. He gives Brady his walking papers and heads into the 2020 season without the six-time Super Bowl champion. Legends are always the last to know they’ve lost it. At 43, Brady proves no different. He looks at Cleveland’s up-and-coming team thanks to a stockpile of draft picks and takes his deteriorating talents to prove something in Ohio. Somehow, someway, the team claws its way into Super Bowl LV, popularly referred to as “The Elderly Bowl.” A familiar foe awaits Brady. 40-year-old Eli Manning, who only wins Super Bowls when no one believes, makes a third career appearance during his farewell tour. His arm, like his brother’s, is shot. The vaunted New York defense and 2017 4th round running back, Wayne Gallman, lead the way. Gallman scores one touchdown on the ground and throws another into the waiting arms of Odell Beckham. Down 16-14 as time winds down, Manning limps his way through a two-minute drill. 48-year-old Adam Vinatieri nails a 32-yard field goal as time expires, and Manning achieves a hat trick in Brady Super Bowl defeats. It is Brady’s final appearance in a championship game. Years later, Brady is imprisoned for his part in a botched attempt to steal Eli Manning’s rings.
11 Super Bowl LVI (02/06/2022): Green Bay Packers Defeat Las Vegas Raiders
In a rematch of Super Bowl II, The Packers beat the Raiders just as soundly. General Manager Ted Thompson steps down in favor of Eliot Wolf following the 2017 Super Bowl defeat. Wolf, son of the Packers’ GM in the 1990s, recognizes a need to surround Rodgers with talent. He opens the checkbook up during free agency and meticulously builds a defense over the course of several years. Rodgers struggles through a few off years before adjusting his mechanics to match his age. Although he doesn’t play at a Hall of Fame level during the 2021 season, the 38-year-old enjoys a career renaissance, much like his predecessor. The young Raiders core finally amounts to its potential. Two lame duck years in Oakland and a temporary move to San Antonio in 2019 had destroyed the team’s morale, but Derek Carr posts MVP numbers during the Raiders’ second year in Las Vegas. The Super Bowl ends up being a snooze fest and becomes a hotbed for conspiracy. By March, the NFL investigates a lead that eight Raiders players purposely threw the game in exchange for money from gamblers. The resulting “Black Patch Scandal” sees all eight permanently banned from football and kick starts the Raider’s eventual return to Oakland.
10 Super Bowl LVII (02/05/2023): Indianapolis Colts Against San Francisco 49ers
When the Colts and Redskins used the first two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft on quarterbacks, there was always speculation regarding which one would have the better career. Who knew that an eventual head-to-head Super Bowl matchup of the organizations’ 2012 QB selections would involve the Redskins’ fourth round choice instead – on another team? After the Black Patch Scandal sends the juggernaut Raiders into disarray, Andrew Luck’s Colts emerge to take control of the AFC. Along with 2017 first round running back Dalvin Cook, and an improved offensive line, Indianapolis powers through the postseason. Kirk Cousins, free from the cyclical franchise tag nonsense in Washington, leads a revitalized San Francisco team back to the NFC mountaintop. Aside from an early pick from each of the opposing quarterbacks, there’s little defense to speak of. Luck eventually tops Cousins to validate the praise he received coming out of Stanford.
9 Super Bowl LVIII (02/04/2024): London Jaguars Defeat Detroit Lions
The Jaguars-Lions Super Bowl matchup sends the world into blind hysteria. Millions upon millions, convinced the apocalypse is upon them, swarm to underground bunkers. The Jaguars and Lions play in front of a record-low, 26 hardcore fans. Somewhat predictably, the Jaguars score a field goal on their first possession, and the score remains that way the rest of the game. How did this come to be? The Jaguars move on from Bortles after 2017 and replace him with 2018 Wyoming selection, Josh Allen. Coupled with Leonard Fournette, the two young stars form a special duo. The Jaguars reach the playoffs for the fifth straight year after their 2019 relocation across the pond. Allen and Fournette finally avoid postseason heartbreak on the way to a Super Bowl birth. Stafford, in his mid-thirties, still mans the Lions. Wary of Green Bay stumbling upon another Hall of Fame QB, thus closing Stafford’s window, the Detroit front office massively outbids everyone for 31-year-old David Johnson’s backfield services. Johnson proves doubters wrong by shouldering the load, but suffers a knee injury in the NFC Championship game against Seattle. The offense clearly isn’t the same without him. London’s Jalen Ramsey takes home the Super Bowl MVP with two interceptions and a forced fumble. Humanity emerges from hiding in time for baseball to start.
8 Super Bowl LIX (02/02/2025): Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defeat Tennessee Titans
Further signaling the destruction of any original ideas in Hollywood, Disney reboots Remember the Titans in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary. Tennessee fans rejoice. The last time their team reached the Super Bowl lined up with the movie’s release. Marcus Mariota feeds into the hype. Along with a three-man running back committee headed by 30-year-old Derrick Henry, the Titans reach the playoffs for the first time since 2020. The fever pitch reaches a new high when Tennessee defeats Buffalo in a Wild Card game, something that also occurred during the franchise’s 2000 playoff run. The team rides the wave of destiny into Super Bowl LIX. Jameis Winston helms a lackluster Tampa Bay offense. His only legitimate weapon is an aging Mike Evans. Luckily, the Buccaneers also take a trip down memory lane. Their defense finishes first in the NFL in both yards and points, just as it did on its way to winning Super Bowl XXXVII. On Super Bowl Sunday, the Titans come back from a 16-0 deficit midway through the third quarter to tie the game. Winston hits Evans on a 73-yard bomb to take the lead, leaving Mariota just under two minutes on the clock. The Titans march down the field, taking their last timeout on Tampa Bay’s 11-yard line. Six seconds remain. Mariota hits Henry over the middle. He rumbles toward the endzone. Linebacker Kwon Alexander miraculously trips Henry up at the one-yard line. Time expires, and the Buccaneers capture their second Lombardi Trophy.
7 Super Bowl LX (02/08/2026): Dallas Cowboys Defeat Buffalo Bills
The Bills select Deshaun Watson 10th overall in 2017 with plans to groom him for two years behind Tyrod Taylor, a luxury EJ Manuel was not afforded. Most fans dismiss the move, preferring a 1st round wide receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins. Buffalo extends their 17-year postseason drought two more years under Tyrod. Watson shows promise after becoming a starter, but the team remains unprepared to make the playoff leap. The front office shows patience. Buffalo finally snaps the drought in 2024, only to lose to the Titans as they did during the team’s last playoff trip in 1999. At the start of the 2025 season, Buffalo enters as a sleeper pick to reach the Super Bowl. The Cowboys, meanwhile, struggle from inconsistencies for years after losing Super Bowl LIII. The offensive line is no longer a strength. Dak Prescott is not as prolific as everyone hoped. Ezekiel Elliot is wearing down at 29. Halfway through another lost season, Dak goes down with an injury. A fifth round pick in the 2021 draft, Stanford quarterback Davis Mills, comes to the rescue. He leads Dallas to an 8-0 second half record and performs well through three NFC playoff games. The Cowboys then obliterate the upstart Bills, the third time they’ve done so to win a Super Bowl. Dallas elects to part ways with both Prescott and Elliot in the offseason.
6 Super Bowl LXI (02/07/2027): Arizona Cardinals Defeat Buffalo Bills
By 36, Cam Newton is no longer the face of the Carolina Panthers. His body has declined due to the physicality with which he approached the position. Finally benched, Newton asks for and is granted a release. He journeys where all old quarterbacks go to prove they still have it – Arizona – and turns 37 before the 2026 season. By joining the NFC West, he brings Russell Wilson, who had not made the playoffs since losing the 2023 NFC Championship Game, out of apparent hibernation. Arizona and Seattle split the season series. Newton takes the rubber match in the playoffs on his way to a second Super Bowl appearance. Deshaun Watson leads Buffalo back to the Super Bowl. They are heavy favorites, but Watson’s Bills fall woefully short yet again. Cam Newton lifts his first Lombardi Trophy. Both Newton and Wilson retire after the season, shifting the NFC West landscape. Thousands of Buffalo blogs ponder what’s worse: the tragedy of missing the playoffs for a quarter century or the sting of being halfway to losing four more Super Bowls in a row.
5 Super Bowl LXII (02/06/2028): Baltimore Ravens Defeat Minnesota Vikings
The Joe Flacco-less Ravens dabble in obscurity for years following the quarterback’s retirement. After sharing time with the Browns as AFC North bottom feeders for too long, they offer a mid-level contract to journeyman quarterback Sam Darnold. Like so many before him, the former USC Trojan’s career hasn’t panned out after being a top 10 selection in the 2019 draft. Everything suddenly falls into place with Baltimore. The Ravens post a 15-1 record and face little opposition in the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. Thad Moss, Randy Moss’ son, breaks Rob Gronkowski’s season record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end with 18. The battle for purple supremacy could go either way through three quarters. Tied 13-13, Baltimore captures momentum by scoring fourteen points in the first three minutes of the fourth. Minnesota loses its fifth Super Bowl in franchise history.
4 Super Bowl LXIII (02/04/2029): Baltimore Ravens Defeat Los Angeles Rams
A few keys pieces leave Baltimore in the offseason, but the core is strong enough to return to the Super Bowl with a more modest 11-5 regular season record. After becoming the first USC quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl, Darnold puts the Ravens in position to be the first back-to-back champions since the 2017-2018 Patriots. Stan Kroenke sells the Rams in 2026. The new ownership actually values a commitment to winning and puts the pieces in place for an LA Rams rebirth. Head coach Alex Smith, conservative in his playing days, overcompensates by being an absolute daredevil on the sidelines. His high-powered offense propels the Rams to their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2001 season. Los Angeles connects on a Hail Mary as time expires in one of the Super Bowl’s all-time greatest moments. Smith rolls the dice by going for two. Initially ruled complete, the Rams’ apparent game-winning, two-point catch is overturned by official review.
3 Super Bowl LXIV (02/03/2030): Pittsburgh Steelers Defeat New Orleans Saints
Carson Wentz has a solid career for the Philadelphia Eagles, but he repeatedly fails to reach the game’s biggest stage. Fans turn on him. Disapproval rises to a crescendo. Ownership trades Wentz after his 11th season. Although they avoid doing business with a division rival, the Eagles draw criticism by trading Wentz within the state of Pennsylvania. Obviously, it comes back to haunt them. Pittsburgh plays second fiddle to Baltimore in the AFC North until 2029. Carson Wentz doesn’t record a single turnover after week 15. New Orleans, the first NFC South representative since Tampa Bay’s victory, rises from the NFL cellar through questionable means: secretly cloning Drew Brees. The front office passes the duplicate off as an undrafted free agent named Brew Drees. Results are immediate. New Orleans improves their record by nine games. Carson Wentz defeats science anyway in a Super Bowl that looks closer than it actually was. An anonymous tip regarding Drees eventually reaches the NFL Commissioner. Drees is momentarily suspended as the Supreme Court mulls a ruling on cloned/genetically-modified athletes.
2 Super Bowl LXV (02/02/2031): Washington Redskins Defeat Denver Broncos
The general consensus is that two major developments are responsible for Washington’s first Super Bowl trip since 1991: Daniel Snyder, a painfully inept owner, relinquishes control of the team in 2029, and the franchise changes its logo to a red skin potato. The Paxton Lynch-Trevor Siemian combination is never the answer for Denver. They suffer through a revolving door of quarterbacks and backfield committees for more than a decade. Denver promotes Earl Thomas from defensive coordinator to head coach in 2028. He quickly reinvigorates the defense. The real story of the 65th Super Bowl becomes the matchup: Denver’s number one defense versus Washington’s number two defense. On top of that, Thomas faces off against his former teammate and current Washington head coach, Richard Sherman. Both teams operate with a Trent Dilfer-type behind center. The lack of offensive explosiveness results in a grueling chess match. The Redskins emerge from the fracas on top. Neither team scores an offensive touchdown.
1 Super Bowl LXVI (02/08/2032): New York Jets Defeat Washington Redskins
The 2031 NFL Draft generates the largest buzz of any in history. Ben Brady and Marshall Manning begin their careers as the first and second picks. Despite Brady being projected as a sixth round talent, the New York Jets trade everything to the Browns and select him with the first overall selection. It’s a desperation move to ensure the Patriots can’t impose generational domination on the AFC East. The Packers, dormant for nearly a decade, hang tight at two and land Manning. While Peyton’s son develops during a losing season in Green Bay, Brady plays far above expectation. He engineers New York’s shocking trip to the Super Bowl. The Jets offense manages to locate cracks in Washington’s superior defense. They trade touchdowns for field goals on the way to toppling the defending champs. It’s New York’s first Super Bowl since 1968. 88-year-old Joe Namath leads the team’s victory parade wearing an oversized fur coat.