Predicting the future Super Bowl Champion is a difficult task. At the beginning of week 1 last season, the New England Patriots were the favourite to win the Super Bowl with 13/4 odds. The Seattle Seahawks were the next highest favoured team with 8/1 odds. The New York Giants were given good odds at 12/1 and ended up with a measly 3-13 record. Of course, nobody could predict that the Giants would have all of their top receivers injured during the season.The eventual Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles were given 40/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. That was good for 18th in the league. Now that some free agency moves have been made and depth charts are starting to fill out, it is a great time for some early Super Bowl contender predictions. Barring any major injuries or team issues, here are five possible Super Bowl 53 Contenders.
Five Possible Super Bowl 53 Contenders
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots lost Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, and Nate Solder to free agency. On the defensive side, they lost Malcolm Butler to free agency. There was an ESPN article about the team having internal conflict. There were players questioning the decision to sit Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. If it was any other team in the league, there would be no question that the team was about to hit some rough years.
However, this is the New England Patriots. A team that has been to eight Super Bowls in two decades and won five of those Super Bowls. This is a team that has the greatest NFL coach of all time and the greatest quarterback of all time.
The Patriots are a team that constantly loses offensive and defensive coordinators to head coaching jobs. They consistently lose star players in free agency. And yet, season after season the Pats are in the AFC Championship game which a chance to appear in another Super Bowl
Until the Patriots give people a reason to think otherwise, do not bet against them. They should be a high favourite to win every season based on the past two decades alone.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the only other consistently good team in the AFC. The Steelers have a barrage of weapons at wide receiver and running back. They have the league’s best receiver in Antonio Brown and the best running back in Le’veon Bell. Add Juju Smith-Schuster and a future hall of fame quarterback to the mix and you have a team that is a threat to win every season.
The Steelers haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 2010 and head coach, Mike Tomlin, could be riding the hot seat pretty soon. Ben Roethlisberger is playing on borrowed time so the Steelers need to make a run now. They will have one of the best offences in the league and a more than capable defence. If they are going to make a run this season, they will have to be more disciplined in big games. They have lost some big games due to dumb penalties.
Most importantly, they have to be able to beat the New England Patriots. Yes, there was a called back touchdown that factored into the loss against the Patriots last season. However, Pittsburgh was still in a position to win the game at the end and failed to get it done. The AFC runs through New England and the Steelers will have to beat them to get to the Super Bowl.
The Philadelphia Eagles need to take advantage of the window they have right now. Carson Wentz is not due for a big payday until 2020. They have a well-rounded offence that includes Alshon Jeffery, Jay Ajayi, and Zach Ertz. Their offensive line is one of the best in the league.
Defensively, they look better than they did at the end of last season. Middle linebacker, Jordan Hicks will be good to go for the first game of the season. Hicks’ versatility was missed last season. They will still have a shutdown corner in Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones will be healthy.
The big surprise is that the Eagles dominant defensive line somehow managed to get better. The Eagles added Pro Bowlers, Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata to an already stacked defensive line. They are also set to bring back Chris Long, and Derek Barnett will be a year older and will be a force on the edge.
The Eagles are a team that will be highly favoured to win another Lombardi. It will be interesting to see if Philly can handle the pressure of being a favourite. The Eagles embraced the underdog label last season. However, not every team can handle the pressure of being the favourite to win it all.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints were one play away from the NFC championship. Unfortunately for the Saints, Case Keenum threw up a prayer and the Super Bowl run was over. The Saints are going to be a favourite to win it all next season and they should be. The team knows that their window is wide open right now and they need to take advantage of it. Hence, the signing of Drew Brees was a move that needed to get done.
Drew Brees chose to take less money to re-sign with the Saints and chase another Lombardi. Brees will still have star wide receiver, Michael Thomas. He also retains the luxury of handing the ball off to Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Kamara has the explosiveness and playmaking ability to be the best running back in the league.
Last season, the Saints finally had a defence that gave them a chance to win every game. Marshon Lattimore was named defensive rookie of the year and will only get better with age. Cameron Jordan was an animal all season, posting a career-high, 13 sacks. New Orleans defence also got better by adding Patrick Robinson to help on the back end.
The only factor that should worry Saints fan is the odd behaviour of head coach, Sean Payton. Payton was given a 15-yard penalty against the Atlanta Falcons that ended any chance of a Saints victory. This was the same game he was caught doing a “choke” gesture towards Devonta Freeman. Then, against the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs, Payton started a Skol clap to mock Vikings fans. Just a few moments later, the Saints season was over after a miracle Vikings play. The Saints need their head coach to button it up and focus more on winning and less on trash talk.
The Houston Texans are the least likely of the five mentioned teams to play in Super Bowl 53. However, the Texans need to be taken seriously as a playoff contender next season. Excluding the Patriots and the Steelers, the AFC is wide open. The Texans are a team that could surprise the league, much like the Philadelphia Eagles did last season.
When the Texans are healthy, their roster is stacked with Pro Bowl calibre players. DeAndre Hopkins is a top five wide receiver in the league. If Will Fuller can hit his full potential, he could be a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL. Lamar Miller is a solid running back and Deshaun Watson has already shown what he is capable of doing.
Houston is nearly unstoppable on the defensive line when JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are both healthy. The defensive unit also added a highly sought after free agent safety known as the honey badger. Tyrann Mathieu was a great addition to an already solid defence. Texans fans should be excited about next season.