As the NBA finishes up, we all turn the page and look forward to the NFL season as it approaches quite fast. This time last year, there was a concern that the NFL may not even start due to the global pandemic. However, this time around the hype is real, and everyone is ready.
The discussion was hot during the offseason. Will Brady take the Buccs to a back-to-back victory? Is Trevor Lawrence the next Tom Brady? Will Deshaun Watson come back stronger from his off-field actions?
We are going to break down each team in each division to give you an understanding of where your favorite could end up this season. Let’s look at which teams have the potential to win the Super Bowl ring!
The AFC division has a lot of talented teams and arguably the highest potential to have the Super Bowl candidates in its pool. We’ll run through each of them.
The Bills clearly had one of their best seasons throughout 2020. We got to see what QB Josh Allen was really capable of as he led the team to the top of their AFC division and into the playoffs. Even though they just fell short losing to the Texans, overall the season was first class.
This season, the Bills will be pushing to go back to back but they don’t have an easy run as they will be visiting Kansas, New Orleans, and Tampa all on the road.
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs were one of the standout combinations from the 2020 season. Following the success of the last year, the Bills will only improve, and we expect them to finish once again at the top of the AFC EAST.
The Miami Dolphins have high expectations for 2021. The Dolphins have really been building a roster over the past few years, and it has all centered around the first round pick of the 2020 NFL draft.
Tua Tagovailoa had several injuries last season. They kept him off the field, and he was not able to build any momentum. Right now, Tua is healthy and ready for 2021, and if he and his squad stay strong, the Dolphins will have a great chance of taking the top spot in the AFC.
New England Patriots
Still re-building? The 2020 season was the first one without the Pats’ favorite son, Tom Brady. The Pats finished third in the AFC East and were unsuccessful in making the playoffs.
Bill Belichick had probably his worst year as he did not gain any back-to-back wins he would have if Brady had been there. In the first round, New England drafted Mac Jones, and he seems like a good fit for the team. It’s hard to say when Jones would be scheduled to start because a Bill Belichick-led team has never drafted a quarterback in the first round before. It would make sense to get Jones on the field soon, considering their quarterback had eight passing touchdowns in 15 games last season, but it’s hard to predict what Belichick will do. One way or another, things don’t look great.
Once they sort out their QB situation, we will need to see some consistent games from the selected QB to build up confidence and gel with the team to get on a winning streak.
New York Jets
Don’t write the Jets off just yet. Yes, they did not have a great 2020 season but the key takeaway from the last couple of seasons is a lack of consistency. The Jets finished 4th in their division in 2020, and it looks like there will be some vast improvements for the 2021 season.
Last season, we saw some glimpse of hope but Sam Darnold / Trevor Siemian could not get a great rhythm in the hot spot with Sam averaging his lowest yards at 6.1 and only 9 TD’s. But this is where the point of not-writing-the-Jets-off-just-yet comes from, as they have Zach Wilson, a rookie QB, ready to go in.
Zach will lead the Jets this year, and with the Zach Wilson-to-Denzel Mims connection, the training camp looks strong. Although this is positive news, we’ve seen a concern with the tight ends. Kroft and Wesco were dropping passes from Zach on Saturday’s training which is not a good sign.
The Jets just need as much time as possible to gel as a team and understand everyone’s role. Once done, the Jets will be a threat.
Whether you support the Bengals or not, we all love watching players such as Tom Brady and Pat Mahomes on the field. Well, the Bengals have that next player that we’ll all just love to sit back and admire.
Joe Burrow suffered a major injury last season. Tearing his ACL and MCL, Burrow did not play again during the season and had a long road to recovery—but that was a recovery that all NFL fans have been waiting for.
Ja’Marr Chase was the Bengals’ first-round pick, and they passed on the best offensive lineman in the draft to reunite him with college quarterback, Joe Burrow. Chase and Burrow were electric during the 2019 college football season, and Bengals fans can’t wait to see them return to that form again this year.
Like Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield had a breakout season last year. Going 11-5 as the starter, Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. The Browns made the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
The Browns with Baker throwing the ball seem to be only getting stronger during the camp. However, the question with the Browns this year will be if their defensive squad can hold their own.
Last year, the Browns had one of the worst defensive numbers, mainly due to injuries. Two starters in the secondary didn’t play a single snap. Big-name players including Denzel Ward, Ronnie Harrison, Myles Garrett, and Olivier Vernon missed some games altogether.
The Browns finished 3rd in the AFC last year. They do have that warrior spirit in them but their defense will be the breaking point.
Going through an off-season and then coming back to full-time training is always challenging as players are trying to get match fit. But with daily temperatures exceeding 30C / 90F, the Steelers also need to deal with the added pressure of high humidity.
It has been clear in the news that coach Mike Tomlin is trying different combinations with the QB. Obviously, Ben Roethlisberger is the starting QB, but Mike has two other options now being Mason Rudolph and the top signee Dwayne Haskins.
Looking from the outside, it seems that Haskins will be the QB to replace the 39yo Big Ben in the near future, should Mike Tomlin start to rest Ben this season and give more match time to Haskins.
The Steelers do have one of the toughest schedules this season. It will be a challenging year for them, and it will be interesting to watch how the QB situation plays out.
Arguably the Ravens have a truly unique offense in the NFL. They have clearly decided to build a team around the freakish skill of Lamar Jackson once Lamar has proven what an athlete he is.
Only the Chiefs generated more EPA per play last season, and this is also considering that the Ravens lost their way a little with their passing last year. Baltimore have strengthened their offensive line by adding Sammy Watkins and the first-round rookie Rashod Bateman. The Ravens look extremely strong so you can expect big things this season.
Have the Titans just become the AFC SOUTH favorites? QB Carson Wentz from the Colts has been injured, and when this news came out, we saw the Titans become firm favorites to win the AFC SOUTH division. In 2020, Titans QB Ryan Tannehill accounted for 40 total touchdowns (33 passing, seven rushing) and threw only seven interceptions. Tannehill finished top-ten in passer rating (5th), yards per attempt (7th), touchdowns (T-7th), and touchdown percentage (4th).
Ryan’s form last season was outstanding, and there is no doubt that the Titans will go a long way if he keeps it up.
A recent Carson Wentz’ injury during training camp could be costly for the Colts. Before Wentz hurt his foot, the Colts were looking at a 10-7 season, which seemed very promising, but now it’s looking more like 6-11.
There is talk that Wentz may be back by week 2 but even if this is the case, he’s unlikely to be in a pitch-perfect form, and this would bring the likes of Jacob Eason and Brett Hundley into the mix to battle for the QB spot. The longer Carson Wentz sits out, the higher the chances of the 2021 campaign slipping away. But if Carson does come back early with his foot 100% fit, the Colts will have a strong chance to win the AFC SOUTH.
Very impressive! The Jaguars look unbelievable in training, and it all seems to be coming together. With the Jags pulling the number one draft pick Trevor Lawrence, all eyes will surely be on this team.
Right now, the Jags have what we see as the best QB situation, as not only do they have the top draft pick—they also got a handy backup QB in Gardner Minshew.
This is going to be a dynamic and powerful team to watch this season, and possibly the talk of the NFL in 6 months.
So much potential in the Texans, but will off-field stories act as a distraction? Deshaun Watson has returned to training camp after taking some time off as there were some issues off the field.
The Texans are not on anyone’s list to make an impact this season, however, one big standout during training camp was watching David Culley prove that he is 100% fit and ready to rip it. If QB Watson clears his mind from everything off the field, the Texans might win a few extra games.
The fans could be in for a long season.
Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock: right now the battle at the Broncos is on with these two veterans going into battle to see who will get the top spot.
Let’s take a look at the career stats:
Teddy Bridgewater: 6-2, 215lb (188cm, 97kg) Throws: Right
Career: Games 59; Yds 11,385; Yards Average 7.3; TD’s 53 Int 36.
Drew Lock: 6-4, 228lb (193cm, 103kg)
Career: Games 18; Yds 3,953; Yards Average 6.6; TD’s 23 Int 18.
It is clear that Teddy has the experience, and Drew Lock is under his wing for now. Drew’s rookie year was in 2019, and Teddy’s 2014. The Broncos will start Drew in the preseason to see what level he is producing but it looks like Teddy will start the regular season.
Drew Lock needs to show that he can connect with powerhouse offensive players such as Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. These two are going to need support, and if they get it, the Broncos could cause some upsets in a tough division.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is laced up and ready to reclaim the trophy. We saw one of the best showdowns during last season’s Super Bowl where Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, both of them GOATs, went head-to-head, and older Brady showed his experience and left Mahomes even more determined to come back and reclaim the trophy.
Statistically, Mahomes had his best season last year, throwing for over 4,500 yards and over 35 TD’s. There’s no doubt these numbers will be broken this season. Mahomes has publicly come out and said that he did not trust himself enough in the pocket during the Super Bowl, and it was a focus for him during the off season to fix that in his game.
The self-awareness of a player like Mahomes—who is already in the top 3 QBs in the league—is daunting. The key for Kansas will be to support Mahomes in his growth and keep up with the fast pace of the game.
Las Vegas Raiders
If you asked NFL fans or Raiders’ supporters about their team’s one player that everyone seemed to expect big things from, most of them would mention QB Derek Carr. Last year was not a great one for Carr, though. His stats were down compared to 2019, which also reflected on how the team performed.
This season, though, the Raiders have a wide receiver with the potential to become one of the most explosive players in the NFL. Renfrow, entering his third season, has emerged as a veteran leader on a young Raiders team—a young team of undrafted free-agents and draftees who have stepped up and grown together.
Everyone’s looking now for Carr to improve on his game and connect more with some of the explosive offensive players they have out wide.
Los Angeles Chargers
The AFC West is there for the taking. Can Justin Herbert repeat his unbelievable rookie year form and turn the Chargers into a playoffs team?
Talent doesn’t seem to be the issue at the Chargers—it is more about keeping a healthy team and not having a list full of injuries. In 2016-2018, the Chargers had no luck, but now it starts to feel that there’s something building nicely.
The Chargers have one of the strongest receiving squads in the league. Keenan Allen is probably the best route runner in the NFL. Mike Williams is one of the best jump-ball receivers. There is not much holding the Chargers back. They just need to stay fit.
Dak Prescott said that his goal would be for the Cowboys to have the best offensive stats in the NFL.
“I don’t want to throw for 6,000 yards, to be honest with you,” he said. “That means we’re not running the ball. That means we’re not probably doing the things we need to do to be a balanced, winning team.”
“As I said, I want to be the best offense in the NFL,” Prescott said. “I think the best way we can do that is if I’m not throwing for that many yards, and our run game is working, and we’re playing complementary football, and we’re winning a lot of games.”
Last season, Dallas lost its games because their defense let in too many points with an average of 29.56 points per game.
Keep an eye on their first few games to see if they have worked hard on their defense.
New York Giants
You could say that the Giants have been re-building, but if you are a Giants fan, there are no more excuses. The Giants have been big spenders in free agency and now seem to have a roster full of young— and explosive—players.
Daniel Jones had one of those seasons where you want to forget and move on. DJ was playing injured throughout the last season, plus DJ and Saquon Barkley had built a great combination during the preseason to then have that torn away from them as Saquon tore his ACL in week 2.
The team starts its 2021 season 100% fit with added arsenal. The Giants have signed Kenny Golladay, the first true receiver they have had since they traded Odell Beckham Jr. Golladay is that massive receiver that every QB wants to be throwing the ball to. Giants fans, do you recall the moments of Eli Manning passing to Plaxico Burress in the early 2000’s? This is what should happen here for DJ.
The Giants are on track to win this division.
The Eagles signed QB Joe Flacco, but this is clearly Jalen Hurts’ team. Hurts’ rookie season showed why he deserved the top job and being the starting QB. Even though Hurts had just over 50% completed passes with only 1,000 yards, it feels that this season will be the growth year Hurts needs.
Second-year man Jalen Reagor, last year’s first-round draft pick, averaged a mere 12.8 yards on his 31 catches and scored just once in 2020. There are signs that the Hurts-Reagor combination will be one of the big changes this season.
Washington Football Team
Is Ryan Fitzpatrick the answer to deliver another NFC East championship?
The 38-year-old spent the past two seasons in Miami. He appeared in nine games during 2020, completing 69 percent of his passes for 2,091 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, and also rushing for 151 yards and two more scores.
With Chase Young on the team, Washington is shaping up to be the number one defensive team in the NFL. If Fitzpatrick can bring consistency and get more game time, there is every chance that Washington would be considered one of the teams that could make a run for the playoffs.
Let’s take an honest look at the Bears. The team has not had a great defensive side since 2018, and their offensive side seems to be far behind the league average.
In 2020, the Bears ended up 2nd in their division with an 8-8 record. They are still looking like a team that just sits in the middle of the pack and doesn’t seem to make any real impact. This year there is still some noise about the QB, as all three—Justin Fields, Andy Dalton, and Nick Foles—are fighting for the spot.
If the Bears can improve their defense, they could be the wild card, but don’t hold your breath.
Reports from camp are that Jared Goff, the newly appointed QB, is showing positive signs. It seems that the Lions will build their 2021 campaign around Goff, however, he’ll need certain playmakers to stay healthy.
RB – D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams
WR – Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown (rookie)
TE – T.J. Hockenson, Darren Fells
These players will be key to the success that will be built around Goff. Last season, the Lions finished last in the division with a 5-11 result, and they had the most points (519) scored against them.
2021 could be yet another long season for the Lions.
Green Bay Packers
No other team in the off season has caused as much controversy as the Green Bay Packers. There were a lot of discussions if the favorite son of the Packers, Aaron Rodgers, was going to sign on to be in the yellow and green uniform this season.
It has been reported that Rodgers will be there for this season, although there’s a clause in his contract saying that he can leave whenever he wants. Still, this could be their chance to win a championship anytime soon.
The Packers were the NFC champions for the 2nd season in a row last year. They have a good roster in the early season coming up against the Bears, Bengals, Lions, and Washington in the first eight weeks. This will help them get ready for the back end of the season, when they’re going to face tougher teams such as the Chiefs and the Seahawks.
The Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers have one last shot at a title before Rodgers either leaves or retires.
The Vikings did not have a great start to the 2020 season, as they lost five of their first six matches. However, Kirk Cousins held up his end of the bargain, leading them to a total finish of 7-9.
The team will need to start strong this season and continue their run from the back of last season. During the first week, the Vikings will face the Bengals, which is going to be a great test for Kirk Cousins as he comes up against Joe Burrow. This could set the tempo for the season.
All in all, the Vikings could be a team that causes a few upsets this season.
A serious loss for the Falcons was losing their superstar, Julio Jones, which left a big gap in the team. However, the Falcons are hoping that other players will follow Calvin Ridley and stand up as a top WR.
Kyle Pitts would be the biggest signing for the Falcons. Kyle should start straight out of the gate in the tight end position. There’s also a lot of young talent on board.
The Falcons could finish 4th for the second year running, unless Matt Ryan can connect with his WR’s and get a few extra wins.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees, one of the GOATs of the game we all love, retired at the end of the last season. He has opened up the door for the next two young superstars looking to take on the challenge at the Saints.
Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will take it on, and if the head coach gets this decision correct, we should see the Saints slowly gain momentum toward the back end of the season and make a surge into the playoffs.
Tre’Quan Smith is in his third year as an elusive WR for the Saints, and the rumors are that Tre’Quan seems to be on the verge of his breakout season. A lot is going to ride on the Saints getting the right QB in place and then executing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccs will enter the season as the firm favorites to win the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. Last season, they signed Tom Brady, and Brady is expected to lead the Buccs to their first Super Bowl win since 2003.
There is so much that can be spoken about the Buccs for this season, but one combination that needs to be watched will be Tom Brady and Antonio Brown. Brown is an all-time WR who spent most of his career at the Steelers but found himself out of the team last season. Tom Brady had a big hand in getting Brown to the Buccs, and the powerhouse WR went over for one of the winning TD’s.
Tom Brady will lead this team to victory.
If any team needs stability, it is the Panthers going 5-11 two years in a row. New owner David Tepper bought the team in 2018. Since then, they’ve changed their head coach, their general manager, and the QB twice with an overall 17-31.
The billionaire had no idea this was the path he was about to go down, although this year promises much better results. This season, we might see Sam Darnold take over from Teddy Bridgewater who replaced Cam Newton.
The return of running back Christian McCaffrey from injury should help things along, as should the emergence of a young defensive core led by end Brian Burns and do-it-all defender Jeremy Chinn.
Los Angeles Rams
Will Matthew Stafford finally find himself a place he can call home and have a successful season? It was a big move for the Rams to make a play for Stafford who was not finding much success at the Lions. But watching Stafford in the preseason, this team looks solid and should win this division with a 12-5 record.
The Rams have the most talented squad in the NFC West. Although the Buccs seem firm favorites, it is not a big call to say that the Rams will be there come Super Bowl time.
The Arizona Cardinals have added J.J. Watt, Rodney Hudson, James Conner, and Malcolm Butler, among many veterans. Kyler Murray did not have a standout season in 2020, ranking 13th in the league with 3,971 yards, and 12th in the league with 26 TD’s.
Another year of Murray throwing to DeAndre Hopkins should improve their results from the last season. However, it is unlikely that the Cardinals will have a great season this year. Most probably, they’ll finish somewhere in the middle.
San Francisco 49ers
Although Jeff Wilson suffered an injury during the offseason, the 49ers still look strong. Trey Sermon, formerly a well-known star from Ohio State, is a player to watch on the field. Trey will learn a lot from Kyle Shanahan’s system, and it is clear that they have already got this young rookie working hard to get a starting position.
Brandon Aiyuk will be looking to have a breakout second year, as he will stand out as their number one wide receiver. Let’s also add in Deebo Samuel who is returning from an injury-ridden 2020 season.
Defensively the one and only star Nick Bosa returns from a torn ACL that he suffered early last season and is ready to go, alongside linebacker Fred Warner and rusher Dee Ford. The 49ers are covered across the field.
Trey Lance was on track to start as QB in the 2020 season, but the pandemic delayed his start, and he decided to put aside the 2020 season altogether. Trey focused on the 2021 draft which has clearly paid off as he seems to be the one that will start as QB with Jimmy Garoppolo not far behind him.
The 49ers are going to be super exciting to watch this season.
The Seahawks find themselves in a tough division this season. Given their roster on the field, they are expected to finish around 12-5 with the following key players:
QB – Russell Wilson
RB – Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny
WR – DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, D’Wayne Eskridge (rookie)
TE – Gerald Everett, Will Dissly
The offensive line is much better than in previous years with the addition of Gabe Jackson which will help Russell Wilson get more time in the pocket. The Seahawks won the NFC division last season but it looks like they will finish second this season behind the Rams.
Top 5 picks for the 2021 season
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Buffalo Bills
- Cleveland Browns
- Green Bay Packers