Which Lombardi-less City Could Be Next?

The Philadelphia Eagles are World Champions.

Having watched their three biggest rivals in Dallas, New York and Washington all win championships over the last 25 years, Eagles fans finally have a Lombardi trophy to call their own. Philly fans watched on Sunday night as backup quarterback Nick Foles completed a dream playoff run, ousting the great Tom Brady and the Patriots 41-33 in one of the classic Superbowls of our time.

In doing so, the teams on the “never to have won the Lombardi trophy” list have now been trimmed from thirteen to twelve.

Today we have decided to rank those 12 teams, in ascending order, based on the likelihood of them winning a Superbowl championship in season 2018.

So here they are in order from least likely to most:

*Sportsbet odds as of 7-2-18

12. Cleveland Browns

2017 Record: 0-16

Closest they’ve come: 23-20 loss to Denver in the 1987 AFC Championship game; 38-33 loss to Denver in the 1988 AFC Championship game; 37-21 loss to Denver in the 1989 AFC Championship game.

$201 to win Superbowl LIII

Let’s be frank. There’s teams on this list that are EXTREMELY unlikely, and then there’s the factory of sadness that is the Browns. Despite the fact General Manager John Dorsey will be armed with approximately $110 million in cap space and 5 picks inside the first two rounds on draft night, this doesn’t look like a franchise set to turn things around quickly. Finding a quarterback has been the issue in Cleveland since the dawn of time, and until they find one, they’re doomed to spend the rest of eternity at the bottom of the AFC North. Punters might as well write their own check because it ain’t happening. At least not in season 2018.

11. Arizona Cardinals

2017 record: 8-8

Closest they’ve come: 27-23 loss to Pittsburgh in Superbowl 43.

$67 to win Superbowl LIII

Having been one of the most competitive teams in the conference for the last 5 years or so, it feels as though the Cardinals window has closed and they will be starting over again in season 2018. With a new head coach (Steve Wilks) and new unnamed quarterback hitting the scene in the desert next season, it’s very unlikely these Cards will snap their championship drought in 2018 (Arizona are the oldest professional football team in the United Stars and haven’t won a championship of any sort since their NFL Championship in 1947). They still have some nice pieces in place in safety Tyronn Mathieu, cornerback Patrick Peterson, edge rusher Chandler Jones, running back David Johnson and the ageless wonder Larry Fitzpatrick, but it feels as though the Super Bowl opportunity may have passed the birds by.

10. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 record: 7-9

Closest they’ve come: 26-21 loss to San Francisco in Superbowl 16; 20-16 loss to San Francisco in Superbowl 23.

$81 to win Super Bowl LIII

2018 feels like a year in which the Bengals will prove to themselves once and for all that both head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton aren’t good enough, therefore setting off the TNT in Cincinnati and starting again. Despite hemorrhaging talent in free agency the past few seasons, the Bengals still feel like they could be a surprise packet in 2018 if they can get their offensive line issues sorted and find some more defensive talent. Even if this all goes to plan, do Bengals fans really believe Dalton is the man to lead this often ridiculed franchise to its maiden Superbowl championship? Bottom line; these guys simply aren’t good enough.

9. Buffalo Bills

2017 record: 9-7

Closest they’ve come: 20-19 loss to the New York Giants in Superbowl 25; 37-24 loss to Washington in Superbowl 26; 52-17 loss to Dallas in Superbowl 27; 30-13 loss to Dallas in Superbowl 28.

$67 to win Superbowl LIII

Now that they’ve broken their playoff drought, the Bills will set their sights on going even further next season. The Bills roster is dotted with blue collar players, however who starts under centre week 1 remains the big question in Buffalo. Despite being contracted, Tyrod Taylor looks certain to be gone in 2018, which makes predicting what may lay in store for these Bills rather tricky. Buffalo play a brand of “playoff” football on the back of a really solid defense and a superb running game led by star running back LeSean McCoy. If they can bring in a big QB fish in free agency or strike luck in the draft, this Bills team could become a great football team in the blink of an eye, but a Superbowl championship in 2019? It would be a wild ride for one of America’s most deserving fan bases.

8. Tennessee Titans

2017 record: 9-7

Closest they’ve come: 23-16 loss to St. Louis in Superbowl 34.

$51 to win Super Bowl LIII

Despite making it to the playoffs and pulling off a shock comeback win against the Chiefs, the Titans had a real up and down season and some might even say a disappointing season, given how many people picked them to win the division in 2017. Although only laying claim to a handful of impact players on defense (lineman Jurrell Casey, safety Kevin Byard and pass rusher Brian Orakpo), Tennessee have some budding stars on offense in quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Derrick Henry. They will also be hoping new head coach Mike Vrabel can get the best out of both. Despite being in an all-of-a-sudden competitive division, if Vrabel can have an impact like rookie head coaches Sean McVay and Sean McDermott did for their respective teams in 2017, the NFL would do well to remember these Titans. Sorry.

7. Detroit Lions

2017 record: 9-7

Closest they’ve come: 41-10 loss to Washington in 1991 NFC Championship game.

$41 to win Super Bowl LIII

Here’s another team with a new coach heading into season 2018, and yet another long history of losing. Detroit are far better placed than quite a few teams on this list due to having a solidified quarterback in Matt Stafford. Despite being in the competitive NFC North, the Lions feel like they could just be an elite running back and edge rusher away from being taken seriously in the division, and even conference for that matter. Despite not winning a playoff game since 1991 and holding the dubious title of being the only NFC team to have never appeared in the Superbowl, the Lions might be good value next season if they can solve their running game issues and defensive mastermind Matt Petricia can get the defense to play greater than the sum of its parts. It would be quite a shock, but Detroit look to be only a piece or two away from becoming a true title contender in the NFC.

6. Houston Texans

2017 record: 4-12

Closest they’ve come: 20-13 loss to Baltimore in 2011 Divisional Round; 41-28 loss to New England in 2012 Divisional Round; 34-16 loss to New England in 2016 Divisional Round.

$26 to win Super Bowl LIII

2017 was a topsy-turvy season for the Texans, who began the season as reigning AFC South champions with little expectation, found their transcendent quarterback in rookie Deshaun Watson, and then watched as Watson and their two best defensive talents (JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus) all went down with season ending injuries. However, things are looking up in 2018 for the Texans, and there may not be more buzz surrounding any team heading into the new season than the leagues newest franchise. There are issues on the offensive line, and the secondary is in dire need of an injection of talent too. If general manager Brian Gaine can go some ways to fixing those few problems, Watt and Mercilus come back fully healthy for the new season and rookie sensation Deshaun Watson can pick up where he left off in 2017, we could be looking at the best team on this list. Best team in the league though? $26 is very nice odds.

5. Carolina Panthers

2017 record: 11-5

Closest they’ve come: 32-29 loss to New England in Superbowl 38; 24-10 loss to Denver in Superbowl 50.

$26 to win Superbowl LIII

Former general manager Dave Gettleman deserves a ton of credit for constructing one of the best rosters in the league. Interim GM Marty Hurney however will be tasked with adding some more blue chip talent to the roster in order to get the Panthers back to championship Sunday. The offensive line seems to have been an issue in Charlotte for years, and this is surely the offseason the Panthers look to solve some of that puzzle. After trading Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo, finding quarterback Cam Newton a true number one wide receiver shoulder also be a priority in the offseason, while Johnathan Stewart isn’t getting any younger either. The defense, while quite even on paper, could stand to add another elite pass rusher (couldn’t they all!). The Panthers are a rock solid football team who should be there when the whips get cracking again next season, but being in the most competitive division in all of football and having arguably the most erratic quarterback in the league leads one to believe they’re not a sure bet next season.

4. Los Angeles Chargers

2017 record: 9-7

Closest they’ve come: 49-26 loss to San Francisco in Superbowl 29.

$26 to win Super Bowl LIII

Anyone who says that the kicker is not an important position in today’s NFL need only refer to the 2017 LA Chargers. If not for a catastrophic firs month of special teams play, these Chargers may very well have found themselves with a record more like 11-5 or 12-4, rather than 9-7 and on the outside looking in when January come around. This is such a talented roster from top to bottom, boasting one of the top receivers in the league in Keenan Allen, a great young running back in Melvin Gordon and perhaps the best 1-2 pass-rush combination in the NFL in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Add to that their veteran signal caller Phillip Rivers, and this a team that must strike while the iron is hot. Time is running out for Rivers and his Chargers (he will be 37 in December), so striking in a strong division which will feature 2 teams breaking in a new quarterback and the other a new (old) coach, the time is now for the Bolts. A real smokey for season 2018, and they certainly aren’t the worst in terms of value.

3. Minnesota Vikings

2017 record: 13-3

Closest they’ve come: 23-7 loss to Kansas City in Superbowl 4; 24-7 loss to Miami in Superbowl 8; 16-6 loss to Pittsburgh in Superbowl 9; 32-14 loss to Oakland in Superbowl 11.

$13 to win Super Bowl LIII

There aren’t too many teams who’ve had more chances at lifting the Lombardi Trophy, yet the Vikings still find themselves on this list. It’s an extremely fine line between the top 3 teams on this list, however with the uncertainty at the quarterback position, Minnesota find themselves at number 3. The Vikings will return one of if not the best defense in the league next season, while Vikings fans will no doubt be eagerly anticipating the return of running back Dalvin Cook who showed plenty of promise in an injury shortened rookie campaign. The biggest question of all is whether Case Keenum can continue his career redemption in the Twin City, or if 2017 was just a one year wonder. If Keenum can replicate his dream 2017 season and the front office continue to fortify the offensive line, you wouldn’t bet against these guys returning to the championship game again next season, even with the return of the great Aaron Rodgers lurking in the division.

2. Atlanta Falcons

2017 season: 10-6

Closest they’ve come: 34-19 loss to Denver in Superbowl 33 and the one against New England. Remember?

$17 to win Superbowl LIII

If there’s one team that shouldn’t find themselves on this list, it’s Atlanta. But here they are. This is such a talented team on paper (perhaps the MOST talented in the NFC) yet, despite making the playoffs in 2017, the Falcons just didn’t seem their usual selves. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan was clearly a big loss for this team last offseason, and quarterback Matt Ryan and co never really seemed to get going in 2017. As mentioned, this is still an insanely talented football team, and maybe another offseason to get a grip on offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s play book is all they need. They have the quarterback. They have Julio Jones. They have Devonta Freeman. The pieces are there on defense. It’s going to be another great battle in the NFC South between these dirty birds, Carolina and the Saints. Can beat absolutely anybody on their day, but Atlanta feel like they need to gain everybody’s trust again.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 record: 10-6

Closest they’ve come: 20-6 loss to New England in 1996 AFC Championship game; 33-14 loss to Tennessee in 1999 AFC Championship game; 24-20 loss to New England in 2017 AFC Championship game.

$21 to win Superbowl LIII

After years of spending big bucks in free agency and picking inside the top 5 on draft night, it feels like the tide has finally turned in Jacksonville. This is a contender built to win NOW. Except for perhaps one thing: Blake Bortles. After having an up and down year which ultimately lead to a great playoff push and surprise berth in the AFC title game, there are still many who believe the oft-maligned quarterback is holding this team back from winning the city of Jacksonville it’s first championship. Tom Coughlin and GM Dave Caldwell have an enormous decision to make this offseason, one that could make or break this city’s Superbowl aspirations. Bortles is due $19.5 million in year 5, and despite the constant criticism, Bortles did just lead the Jaguars to an unlikely appearance in the conference title game. This came off the back of an extraordinary defense, reliable run game and not turning the ball over. Regardless of what happens with the quarterback conundrum, Jacksonville are guaranteed to be must watch football next season, and this is a city that can smell a championship.

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