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The case for all 32 NFL teams to make Super Bowl LV in the 2020 season, from the Jags to Chiefs

In advance of a 2020 NFL season in which anything and everything appears to be on the table, it only seems right to put together our annual preview of how each of the league’s 32 teams could win the Super Bowl. It might seem wild when last year’s winner wasn’t exactly an upset, of course, but the 49ers went from a 4-12 season with the second-worst record in football all the way to within a play or two of glory. Here’s what we wrote then:

“The 49ers are probably the best surprise-division-winner pick in the league, which could propel them to a 2016 Falcons-esque run in January.”

San Francisco won its division, comfortably manhandled the Vikings and Packers to win the NFC and then blew a lead in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV. It technically took place in February, but otherwise, that one seems pretty on point.

In this exercise, we try to find a plausible scenario in which each and every NFL team could win a championship. Since teams can’t win unless they get into the postseason, many of these write-ups detail how a team could exceed expectations and end up in an advantageous situation come January. Obviously, these are 32 different scenarios. I don’t wish or hope for injuries to any player, but the reality is that teams at the lower end of the probability spectrum probably need an injury or two to an opposing quarterback to have a viable path toward a division title, let alone a championship.

The teams are ranked according to their probability of winning the Super Bowl by ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), and I also have added each teams’ odds from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. In other words, these aren’t my predictions or estimates of each team’s Super Bowl chances. In this universe, I’ll take the Chiefs over the Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida, on Feb. 7, 2021. Let’s see how things might play out in 31 other universes:

Jump to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: Less than 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 4.3%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +25000

Gardner Minshew, Super Bowl champion? This list has to start somewhere, and while the Jaguars certainly seem like they’re rebuilding after trading away defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and safety Ronnie Harrison last week, it’s not impossible to construct a path in which they make it to the postseason. Just look at the AFC South. The Texans are expected to decline. The Titans have little under center behind oft-injured quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Colts have a 38-year-old quarterback in Philip Rivers who looked like he might be toast last season. If Rivers’ time is up and Tannehill gets hurt, this division is suddenly wide open.

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There’s enough of a core here for the Jaguars to at least be competitive if things break right. The offensive line is solid, especially if Cam Robinson gets back on track. Jacksonville’s wide receivers aren’t impressive on paper, but they’re young, and there’s always a chance DJ Chark morphs into a superstar or rookie second-round pick Laviska Shenault is good from Day 1. The front seven has talent with Josh Allen, Myles Jack and Joe Schobert, and the defense adds a pair of first-rounders to the fold in edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson and cornerback CJ Henderson.

It’s tough to imagine the Jaguars being great, but if they can get to average and their division stinks, that might be enough. In 2011, the Giants made it to the postseason with a 9-7 record despite being outscored by six points. Once they got into the playoffs, though, they stopped turning the ball over, got hot and ran the table, even though they were underdogs in three of the four contests.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: Less than 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 7.4%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +10000

The easiest way to grossly outplay projections is to get better quarterback play than the market expects. The Bengals have a quarterback with a massive ceiling in Joe Burrow, who just ran off arguably the best season in college football history at LSU. Burrow’s final college season translates to an NFL passer rating of 143.7, and while that’s not in the cards, what if he is a top-10 quarterback as a rookie? Cincinnati was below replacement level at positions such as left tackle and linebacker a year ago; merely improving those positions to adequate would be significant upgrades.

I’m optimistic about the Bengals’ chances of improving in 2020, but it’s going to be tough for them to emerge out of the AFC North. Even if the Ravens take a step backward after a 14-2 season, they should still be in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Browns expect to improve after replacing coach Freddie Kitchens, and the Steelers could rank among the best teams in football if Ben Roethlisberger is back to his old self after elbow surgery. We’ve seen moribund franchises rescued and immediately pushed back into the playoffs by the right quarterback pick — think the Colts with Andrew Luck in 2012 — but the Bengals probably would need the division to go their way to have a plausible path to the Super Bowl.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: Less than 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 6.0%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +15000

Great teams typically dominate the line of scrimmage, and while I have concerns about the offensive line, Washington could have one of the league’s best defensive lines. Washington has five first-rounders along its front seven, including four defensive linemen in Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and rookie No. 2 overall pick Chase Young. (Its best lineman might be All-Underrated Team member Matt Ioannidis.) Jack Del Rio’s track record as a defensive coordinator is very good; it would hardly be a surprise if this were one of the league’s biggest risers on defense.

Projecting an effective offense is tougher, although Washington does have young contributors with the potential to make transformative leaps in quarterback Dwayne Haskins, wide receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson. The Cowboys and Eagles, expected to compete for the NFC East title, are already dealing with serious injury issues. It might not seem like Washington is remotely close to a playoff berth after a 3-13 season in 2019, but its most recent two division titles have come after seasons in which it went 4-12 and 5-11. The 49ers added the second overall pick to a deep defensive line last season and rode Nick Bosa & Co. all the way to the Super Bowl; could Washington follow in their footsteps?

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: Less than 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 6.3%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +12500

Carolina could have something in the ballpark of 10 new starters as part of new coach Matt Rhule’s rebuild. It’s fair to say that we typically characterize that sort of roster churn as a negative, especially in a season in which we expect continuity to be more important and valuable than usual.

For a Panthers team that collapsed over the second half of 2019, though, that refresh might be a positive. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should be a significant upgrade on Kyle Allen and the injured version of Cam Newton. Trading for Russell Okung cost the team Trai Turner, but a healthy Okung is an above-average lineman at a left tackle spot the Panthers have struggled to fill. There’s a few young stars already on the roster in wide receiver DJ Moore, offensive tackle Taylor Moton and running back Christian McCaffrey, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady could be the next Sean McVay.

Teddy Bridgewater takes over as the Panthers’ new starting quarterback this season after stints as the backup for the Jets and Saints. Grant Halverson/Getty Images

All of those improvements are on offense, so it’s no surprise that the defense is expected to be what slows down Carolina in 2020. If defensive coordinator Phil Snow can coax big seasons out of defensive linemen Kawann Short and Brian Burns, the Panthers could be a competitive team pretty quickly. There’s a lot ahead of them in the NFC South, but the two teams that are expected to compete for the division title are quarterbacked by guys who are 41 and 43 years old. If Drew Brees and Tom Brady both fall off the aging cliff, this division would suddenly be wide open.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 11.7%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +5000

If the Giants win a Super Bowl, we’ll all owe Dave Gettleman a big apology. It’s impossible to imagine them making that unexpected leap without big seasons from some of the general manager’s most controversial decisions. Running back Saquon Barkley would have to be an MVP candidate. Quarterback Daniel Jones would have to overcome a tough early schedule to make a Carson Wentz-esque second-year jump. And on a team that is crying out for a front-seven piece to excel, former Jets first-rounder Leonard Williams would need to produce like the franchise player Gettleman tagged him as this spring.

While the offense is loaded with young players who could coalesce if they manage to get on the field together for any length of time, Gettleman also needs his investments in veteran defenders such as Williams, linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive backs James Bradberry and Logan Ryan to pay off. Like Washington, New York is dependent upon the Cowboys and Eagles struggling with injuries to rise up the NFC East ranks. And as anybody who followed the 2007 and 2011 teams knows, the only thing the Giants need to do to have a shot at winning a Super Bowl is sneak into the postseason.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 14.0%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +10000

If the Dolphins manage to parlay their 2019 tank session into a title one year later, we’re going to see teams all over the NFL attempting to follow their playbook. Miami added more talent this offseason than any other team, including six of the first 70 selections in April’s draft and somewhere around eight new starters in free agency. Coach Brian Flores did an excellent job of keeping a team with replacement-level players in many spots motivated and professional in 2019; now, he has the chance to work with a higher level of talent across the board.

We don’t have a huge sample or track record of teams with this sort of roster churn year over year to get a sense of how they might do. My best guess is that we’ll see some promising games mixed with moments when the Dolphins struggle to coalesce, but there’s a chance that they turn things up quicker than we expect. The AFC East is up for grabs, and if the Fins shopped effectively this offseason, they could be in the picture for a division title after a hot start.

Miami starts with the Patriots, Bills and then a game against the Jaguars on Thursday night football. If it starts 3-0, then Miami should be atop the division with drastically shifted chances of making it into January.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 16.9%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +6000

With Detroit a trendy pick to win the NFC North, I’m already on record as suggesting the Lions will improve in 2020. Back in January, I laid out the similarities between the Lions and last year’s 49ers, a team that I projected as likely to improve before the season.

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To make a deep playoff run, the Lions need to turn around a defense that has ranked 21st and 23rd in its first two seasons under coach Matt Patricia, and even that was with now-traded cornerback Darius Slay. Detroit could have as many as six new starters on defense, and while I’m skeptical that Patricia’s plan of stocking up on Patriots players Bill Belichick didn’t want to keep is a great idea, those guys could still be an upgrade on what the Lions rolled out a year ago.

If the defense can just improve to adequate, some better luck in the fourth quarter and the return of Matthew Stafford could push the Lions into the nine- to 10-win range, which could be enough to win the NFC North.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.3%
Chance to make the playoffs: 22.4%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +3000

While the Raiders are pursuing a different path to significant improvement than the Dolphins, they’re similarly relying on a bounty of draft picks and a series of free-agent signings to push their talent level forward from week to week. Unfortunately, Las Vegas’ roster doesn’t look quite as good as it might have on paper heading into camp, with wide receiver Tyrell Williams hitting injured reserve, safety Damarious Randall not playing well enough to make the team and third-round converted running back Lynn Bowden being traded to Miami without ever taking a snap for the team.

And like the Lions, the Raiders need to improve on defense to push for the postseason. They hope to rebuild the middle of their defense with free-agent additions Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski and Maliek Collins joining safety Johnathan Abram, who missed the final 15 games of 2019 with a shoulder injury. I’m not sure the Raiders have enough to stand up to the Chiefs, but if Patrick Mahomes misses time, Las Vegas could be well-positioned to rise up the standings in the AFC West.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.3%
Chance to make the playoffs: 23.0%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +10000

Honestly, after all the weird things that happened to the Jets last year, the only thing weirder might be competing for a Super Bowl title in 2020. Adam Gase’s team is already down its top two defenders after trading away safety Jamal Adams and losing linebacker C.J. Mosley to an opt-out, but New York quietly ranked 11th in defensive DVOA a year ago despite fielding what Football Outsiders noted was the most injured defense in the league.

A big Jets leap would probably require Sam Darnold to be the best quarterback in the division. At his best, a healthy Darnold still has that sort of upside. If you take his 16 best games so far as a pro, the Southern California product would have averaged 8.2 yards per attempt, thrown 30 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions and posted a passer rating of 100.2. The Jets rebuilt their offense over the summer, and just three of the players who started alongside Darnold on offense in Week 1 a year ago remain on the roster. Gase once had a reputation as an offensive genius, and if he can get those pieces to come together, this team could surprise.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.4%
Chance to make the playoffs: 24.1%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +6000

Are the Cardinals this year’s Browns? With Kyler Murray looking like a trendy MVP pick in his second season, the Cards shelled out a critical draft pick to go after a new No. 1 wideout in DeAndre Hopkins, just as the Browns did with Odell Beckham Jr. for Baker Mayfield. In Cleveland’s case, just about everything that could have went wrong did so, and everybody who seemed to be on the cusp of something great with the Browns got fired.

That scenario is plausible for the Cardinals, but there’s also the upside of Murray taking the Lamar Jackson path and this team looking more like the 2019 Ravens. Baltimore played well but was also buoyed by a weak division, with the Browns collapsing, the Steelers losing Ben Roethlisberger for much of the year and the Bengals finishing with the NFL’s worst record. It would be tough to see that same sort of disaster campaign in the NFC West, where the 49ers, Rams and Seahawks would all be expected to compete for the postseason. But who would have expected the 49ers to make it to the Super Bowl a year ago?

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Ryan Clark breaks down which quarterbacks on new teams will perform well and which will struggle in their new homes.

If Murray is an MVP candidate, the Cardinals have enough talent to win the West. And while it’s a four-game sample, they’re the only active team to never lose a home playoff game since the merger.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.6%
Chance to make the playoffs: 36.6%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +5500

You’ll notice that there’s a pretty significant jump between the playoff odds of the Cardinals and those of the Texans. I’ve compared this version of the Texans to the Tony Romo-era Cowboys, mostly because they’re built around a core of stars, some of whom struggle to stay healthy. If you could tell me right now that it will get full 16-game seasons out of quarterback Deshaun Watson; wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller; running back David Johnson; offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil; front-seven pieces J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Zach Cunningham; and cornerback Bradley Roby, Houston would be in great shape to compete for the AFC title. This core has that sort of talent.

Some of those guys are perennial injury concerns, though, and everyone is subject to the random nature of injuries in an NFL season. The Texans have a top-heavy roster with little depth across the board, so if everyone stays healthy, they could be a 12-win team and end up with home-field advantage as the top seed in the AFC.

Say what you want about Bill O’Brien as a personnel executive, but the Houston coach has won four division titles in five seasons, with only Watson’s injury-hit 2017 as an exception. The Texans also beat the Chiefs, Patriots and Titans in the regular season a year ago. At their best, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.6%
Chance to make the playoffs: 34.1%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +4500

While I already projected the Chargers to improve and built some of my optimism on more Derwin James in 2020, the dream of a healthy team fell to the wayside once the star safety went down with a torn meniscus in camp. James is out for the year, and wide receiver Mike Williams is questionable for Week 1 with a shoulder injury. For the Chargers to surprise, they can’t keep shedding stars and above-average starters this early in the season.

If they can keep most of their key contributors healthy, no one should doubt the talent on this roster. L.A. is making a quarterback change in replacing stalwart Philip Rivers with Tyrod Taylor, and while Taylor’s brief run with the Browns was a disaster, consider that he was working under Hue Jackson at the time. Taylor’s three-year spell with the Bills was better than you might think, with Buffalo ranking ninth and 10th in offensive DVOA in Taylor’s first two years as a starter before problems arose in Year 3.

The Chargers probably don’t have enough to beat out the Chiefs over a full season, but they were able to play Patrick Mahomes & Co. tougher than many expected. Remember that the Chargers came back to beat the Chiefs with a two-point conversion, 29-28, as part of their run to the playoffs in 2018. With a run-heavy offense attacking Kansas City’s most obvious weakness, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Chargers pulled an upset in 2020. If that’s enough to swing the division their way, Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and the defense would be a tough out in January.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.7%
Chance to make the playoffs: 32.8%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +5000

Can it all come together for Drew Lock? The biggest question surrounding the Broncos is whether their second-year quarterback has the talent to overcome a pair of questionable tackles and excel. Outside of those two spots, Denver seems to be loaded on offense with young talent, and it has a lot to like on defense, where coach Vic Fangio will once again have the services of Bradley Chubb after the former fifth overall pick tore his ACL in 2019.

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The 2018 Bears won 12 games with Fangio’s defense leading the league in takeaways and their offense overcoming a young, limited quarterback by surrounding him with weapons. The Bears didn’t get far in the postseason because of their kicking woes, but it’s not impossible to imagine Fangio’s current team trying to succeed with a similar blueprint in 2020. The biggest thing standing in their way, of course, is Patrick Mahomes. In addition to two games against the Chiefs, FPI projects the Broncos to play the league’s third-toughest schedule. If they make it to the postseason, they’ll deserve it.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 0.7%
Chance to make the playoffs: 31.7%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +6000

Before the 2016 season, nobody was particularly optimistic about the Falcons. Las Vegas pegged their Super Bowl chances at +8000. FPI had them at 0.5%. They were coming off of an 8-8 season and had missed the playoffs three consecutive times. Their Kyle Shanahan-led offense had just finished 21st in points per game. A Super Bowl did not seem to be in the cards.

You know what happened. Quarterback Matt Ryan played behind a healthy, productive offensive line and won league MVP. A young defense struggled during the regular season before coming together in December and January. The Falcons won four straight to end the year and finish 11-5, blew out the Seahawks and Packers in the playoffs and then dominated most of Super Bowl LI against the Patriots before they gassed out.

This year’s Falcons are right around where that 2016 team was before it broke out. With five first-rounders on their offensive line and 10 on offense altogether, the Falcons could hope for an offensive resurgence with Ryan, who would need a return to form from running back Todd Gurley and a breakout year from tight end Hayden Hurst. That previous Falcons team got a huge season from Vic Beasley Jr., and with Beasley now in Tennessee, coach Dan Quinn could rely upon another former Ram in pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. as a possible NFL sack leader.

The 2016 season might have been lightning in a bottle. Maybe the Falcons can’t do it without Shanahan as their offensive coordinator. What happened that year, though, should be a reminder of how big seasons can come out of nowhere, even for veteran teams that seem locked to finish at or around .500.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 1.0%
Chance to make the playoffs: 41.5%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +5000

This past weekend’s news that the Bears will start Mitchell Trubisky in Week 1 didn’t exactly excite a subset of Chicago fans, but I’m not sure it matters all that much in the long run. The Bears probably aren’t going to win a Super Bowl with either Trubisky or Nick Foles in a lead role. To make a deep playoff run, they’re going to need the stars elsewhere on their roster to be among the best in football and leave the quarterback with as little to do as possible, regardless of who is actually taking snaps.

Naturally, a Chicago Super Bowl would probably start on defense with its pass-rushing trio of Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and new addition Robert Quinn, who has led the league in pass rush win rate (PRWR) each of the past two seasons. Defensive backs Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson, who excelled in 2018, need to return to that form in 2020. The Bears’ interception rate fell from a league-leading 4.4% in 2018 to just 1.8% a year ago, a figure which they’ll obviously hope to push in the opposite direction this upcoming year.

The rest of the wish list would see the offensive line take a step forward and another wide receiver, likely Anthony Miller, to emerge alongside star wideout Allen Robinson as a viable second option in the passing game. We know both Foles and Trubisky can look impressive when they get hot, but neither player looks like a viable NFL quarterback when things break down. The 2015 Broncos won a Super Bowl while alternating between a faded Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, owing to a dominant defense. If the Bears just play the hot hand at quarterback and their defense bounces back, could they follow the same path?

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 1.0%
Chance to make the playoffs: 42.3%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +1600

Most 13-3 teams that return a Hall of Fame quarterback don’t find themselves in the middle of the Super Bowl pack the following year, but FPI was less impressed with the Packers than that final record indicates. I also think the Packers will take a step backward in 2020, although they should still be in the thick of a wide-open race for the NFC North title at 9-7 or so.

Caesars’ odds are more optimistic, and it’s not difficult to piece together a scenario in which Green Bay is great. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been an MVP candidate since 2016, but if the decision to draft Jordan Love in the first round and another year in Matt LaFleur’s scheme pushes Rodgers’s level of play forward at age 36, the Packers would have one of the best offenses in the league. They also fielded the league’s fourth-youngest defense in 2019, and while they were exposed badly in the NFC Championship Game, they could improve from their 15th-placed DVOA finish in 2019 if safety Darnell Savage improves and new addition Christian Kirksey stays healthy at linebacker.

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Stephania Bell expects a big season out of DeAndre Hopkins because of his reliability and how Cliff Kingsbury will utilize him in the Cardinals’ offense.

In a division in which the Vikings are retooling, the Bears are propping up Mitchell Trubisky and the Lions might not have an NFL-caliber head coach, the Packers could claim a division title solely through being the most competent team in the division. If they can just avoid the 49ers in the postseason this time around …

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 1.2%
Chance to make the playoffs: 47.1%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +3500

FPI is surprisingly more optimistic about the Browns, who could be considered a post-hype sleeper after a disastrous 2019 campaign. Theoretically, just about everything that got people excited about Cleveland heading into last season is back, although quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Myles Garrett each went through their own lost seasons for different reasons a year ago. Coach Freddie Kitchens is obviously gone and replaced by former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and while I’m optimistic the Browns could improve drastically with better coaching on the offensive side of the ball, the compressed offseason is expected to hurt teams that haven’t had much time to practice under new coaches or new schemes.

If talent wins out and the Browns’ stars live up to their prior expectations, it’s difficult to see many teams who possess more upside. The division could be sticky, given that the Ravens posted the league’s best record a year ago and the Steelers are likely to improve with competent quarterback play. I have serious questions about the Cleveland secondary, but having addressed their problems at tackle and tight end, the Browns have top-five offensive upside if Mayfield returns to form. They could be a team nobody wants to see in the postseason.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 1.6%
Chance to make the playoffs: 55.4%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +3000

The Titans surprisingly came within one game of making it to the Super Bowl a year ago, and while they lost defensive coordinator Dean Pees to retirement and right tackle Jack Conklin to free agency, they’re going to try to run it back with the same formula. You’re going to see heavy doses of running back Derrick Henry and play-action opportunities for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. On defense, winning the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes gives them a great run defender who can take over games in stretches as a pass-rusher while playing across from edge rushers Harold Landry and Vic Beasley Jr. The Titans are smart and well-coached, and they seemed to hit a new stride after replacing Marcus Mariota with Tannehill.

I’m worried about what happens if Tannehill can’t stay healthy, but there’s also a chance that their 2019 draft class turns out to be the best in football if wideout A.J. Brown continues to improve and defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons stays healthy. They ran out of steam against the Chiefs, and they probably won’t be as dominant in the red zone as they were during the postseason, but we’ve seen the Titans beat the best teams in football. For a group that lost to the Jaguars, Broncos and Panthers a year ago, its path to a division title might be avoiding losses against the teams that aren’t on its level.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 1.8%
Chance to make the playoffs: 44.9%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +3000

You can see the difficulty of the NFC West baked into the Rams’ FPI odds; while teams such as the Browns and Titans have a better chance of making it to the playoffs, the Rams have a better shot of winning the Super Bowl if they can finish atop what is arguably the league’s toughest division. It might feel like forever ago, but we’re only 19 months removed from L.A. making it to Super Bowl LIII, where it was dispatched by the Patriots.

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Last season was a difficult step backward for the Rams, but even in a down year, they finished 9-7 and would have made the playoffs under the new, 14-team format. Sean McVay & Co. responded by installing three new coordinators, jettisoning running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Brandin Cooks for cap reasons, and trying to rebuild the front four on defense.

The thing they didn’t do, which might be telling, is try to fix the offensive line. They re-signed 38-year-old tackle Andrew Whitworth and seem confident Rob Havenstein can return to form after a disastrous 2019. The interior is full of young players who haven’t yet proved themselves to be NFL-caliber linemen; last year, the Rams lost Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen to injuries. If they can stay healthy and give quarterback Jared Goff more time to throw, the Rams could look more like the offensive juggernaut of 2017 and 2018.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 1.9%
Chance to make the playoffs: 53.8%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +2800

Vikings fans might argue that the rebuilt defense of 2020 could be an upgrade on the last run of Mike Zimmer’s former core in 2019. Minnesota let longtime contributors Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen and Trae Waynes all leave this offseason, but Rhodes and Waynes didn’t play well, and Griffen is now ably replaced in the lineup by trade acquisition Yannick Ngakoue. If rookie first-rounder Jeff Gladney can step onto the field and play like an NFL-caliber corner in September, the Vikings could actually be better on defense.

Offense seems a little more difficult after they traded away wide receiver Stefon Diggs, although they used a first-round pick on LSU star Justin Jefferson and should get a healthier season from Adam Thielen, who missed the better part of eight games a season ago. The best-case scenario for the Vikings is a healthy campaign from Dalvin Cook, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 102.9 rushing yards per game in the first half of 2019, only to fade badly, deal with injuries and average 3.3 yards per carry and 52 yards per game afterward. If the Packers decline, Minnesota is the best-positioned team to win the NFC North.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 1.9%
Chance to make the playoffs: 59.2%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +2500

In contrast to the Rams, the Colts’ excellent playoff odds and relatively low Super Bowl odds are a product of their placement in the AFC South. FPI sees Indy as the favorites to come away with the AFC South after adding quarterback Philip Rivers and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner this offseason but wonders whether it will have the upside to go far in the playoffs.

I can understand why, given that the Colts were aggressively … average a year ago. They ranked 20th in DVOA, 19th in offensive DVOA, 19th in defensive DVOA and 16th in special-teams DVOA. They need to be great somewhere, and given how badly they struggled with injuries at wide receiver last season, offense is their best shot. Their line isn’t likely to be as healthy as it was a year ago, but if Rivers has time to throw, a wideout corps with T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell and rookie second-rounder Michael Pittman might be a lot scarier than many people realize. Jonathan Taylor might also quickly emerge as one of the league’s next great backs.

For all I said about them being average, the Colts did beat the Chiefs, Texans and Titans a year ago, holding Kansas City to a season-low 13 points in the process. I would still pick the Chiefs if those two met in the postseason, but the first and most important step in winning a Super Bowl is still making it to the playoffs. This team is in a good spot to make it back there in 2020.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 2.2%
Chance to make the playoffs: 58.0%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +2500

This one seems simple. Start with a dominant young defense. Add healthy returns from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner. Throw in a step back from the Ravens after a 14-2 season when everything went right. And you get a Steelers team right in line to win the AFC North and compete for one final Roethlisberger championship. Right?

It’s dangerous to assume that all the things that went right a year ago will happen again and all the things that went wrong will fix themselves if you’re trying to project a team’s most likely outcome. If we’re looking at the best-case scenario, though, it’s difficult to think of many teams that have the sort of upside on both offense and defense that the Steelers have on paper. I don’t think Minkah Fitzpatrick & Co. will force as many takeaways as they did in 2019, and there’s always going to be danger in counting on a 38-year-old quarterback coming off of elbow surgery, but the Steelers’ case for being great is quite obvious.

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Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 3.0%
Chance to make the playoffs: 59.5%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +2000

The path forward isn’t as clear for the Patriots. Can they still rely on the league’s top-ranked defense from 2019? The league’s deepest cornerback depth chart and Devin McCourty all return, but the front seven is a mess. They have lost six of their top 11 defenders by snap count from a year ago, and while I’d trust Bill Belichick’s ability to coach in a weird season more than anybody else’s, there’s going to be some rebuilding time here. Stephon Gilmore and the secondary also aren’t going to post an interception rate of nearly 5% this season.

Any Super Bowl-caliber season from the Patriots would likely require a return to form for new quarterback Cam Newton after a foot injury zapped his 2019 season. The Newton we saw from the first half of 2018 was good enough to hold up his end of a Super Bowl bargain, although New England has even less to offer in terms of weapons after Mohamed Sanu failed to recover from an ankle injury and was cut last week. If Newton has an MVP-caliber season, the Patriots could be one of the best teams in football. Anything short would probably leave them without the upside they need to beat the Chiefs and Ravens in January.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 3.0%
Chance to make the playoffs: 57.7%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +1200

Fact: Since winning the Super Bowl in 2013, the Seahawks’ rank in defensive DVOA has declined in each of the six ensuing seasons. Granted, for most of that time, it wasn’t exactly a problem: They fell from first in 2013 to second, fourth and fifth over the three ensuing campaigns. Over the past three seasons, though, Pete Carroll’s unit has dropped to 13th, 17th and then 21st a year ago.

Seattle has made wholesale changes to fix its secondary after the Legion of Boom moved on; while the ideal might have been to draft and develop new starters, three of Seattle’s expected starters in the secondary (Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Quinton Dunbar) were acquired via trade over the past year. Carroll will have to hope that the development comes up front, where the Seahawks will rely on 2019 first-rounder L.J. Collier and injured 2020 second-rounder Darrell Taylor to help create a pass rush after losing Jadeveon Clowney to the Titans.

They ranked in the bottom five in both pressure rate and sack rate a season ago, but if the secondary plays well, it could solve the pass-rushing woes by forcing quarterbacks to hold the football. If the defense bounces back into the top 10, Russell Wilson alone should be enough to push the Seahawks to 11 wins and one of the top spots in the NFC. Fans aren’t currently allowed at CenturyLink Field, but if the Seahawks can host playoff games in front of full crowds in January, we already know how devastating home-field advantage can be for this team.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 3.0%
Chance to make the playoffs: 61.1%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +2500

As we get closer to the top of the list, imagining a Super Bowl scenario for these teams becomes easier and easier. For the Bills, it’s simple. Can Josh Allen become a league-average passer? Allen adds value as a runner, and we’ve seen teams make it to the Super Bowl with less-effective quarterbacks before, but having to rely on a quarterback with below-average passing numbers reduces your margin for error. Buffalo ranked seventh in defensive DVOA a year ago, and while that was enough to make it back into the postseason for the second time in three years, Allen wasn’t able to do enough to help push them past the Texans in the wild-card round.

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For the Bills to win a Super Bowl with this version of Allen, they would need to play like one of the three best defenses in football throughout the postseason. They certainly have the talent to do that, but even the best defenses in the league struggle to be that good year after year. If Allen improves and becomes an average passer, their margin for error on defense increases. And if Allen takes a bigger step forward with wide receiver Stefon Diggs and becomes an above-average quarterback, well, the Bills could be the best team in football.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 3.8%
Chance to make the playoffs: 64.5%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +2000

Injuries slowed down the Eagles as they tried to make a push into and through the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, and with offensive linemen Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard already done for the season, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery not ready to start the year and first-round pick Jalen Reagor doubtful for Week 1, the bug is biting again in 2020. I know that the Eagles won a Super Bowl without Carson Wentz in 2017, but you have to figure that their best chance of winning involves their starting quarterback staying healthy through the end of the regular season for the first time since 2016. And their best way to keep Wentz healthy involves the rest of the offensive line holding up over the remainder of the campaign.

The Eagles have become more of a stars-and-scrubs team since that Super Bowl victory, owing to some contractual choices and Wentz’s own extension. Those stars have to stay healthy and productive. Players such as wideout DeSean Jackson, tight end Zach Ertz, edge rusher Derek Barnett and new trade acquisition Darius Slay can be difference-makers when they’re on the field, but Philly’s path to a Super Bowl requires all of them playing something close to 16 games. Howie Roseman is also one of the most aggressive general managers in the league when it comes to in-season trades; a midyear trade for help on defense, either at linebacker or in the secondary, could come into play.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 3.8%
Chance to make the playoffs: 63.4%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +1100

The Bucs are closer to a Super Bowl than you might think, in part because their defense is probably better than you pictured it after last season. Tampa Bay ranked 29th in scoring defense, but that was mostly a product of Jameis Winston and the offense. After you strip out his seven pick-sixes and account for the fact that Todd Bowles’ defense faced a league-high 189 drives and inherited the league’s worst average starting field position, Tampa Bay’s sixth-place finish in defensive DVOA makes more sense. Those issues are unlikely to recur with turnover-averse Tom Brady as the Bucs’ new quarterback.

Of course, Brady is 43 years old and outside of the Belichick bubble for the first time in his career. There are no guarantees he agrees with Bruce Arians’ downfield passing attack, and with limited practice time, I’d expect some hiccups early in the season. If Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski look like their old selves and first-round pick Tristan Wirfs solidifies things at right tackle, this is a team without a significant weakness. The biggest thing keeping Tampa from a better projection is the other juggernaut in the NFC South.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 4.8%
Chance to make the playoffs: 71.0%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +1300

The Cowboys are probably looking to ride a path like that of the 2016 Falcons to glory. Advanced metrics already thought their offense was on that sort of level, with Dak Prescott & Co. ranking second in DVOA and fourth in FPI last season. Dallas needs center Joe Looney to step in as an able replacement for the retired Travis Frederick and for new coach Mike McCarthy to let incumbent offensive coordinator Kellen Moore do his thing. McCarthy is saying the right things now, but a lot can change once things kick off.

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Greg McElroy takes issue with where Aaron Rodgers is ranked in ESPN’s top 100 NFL players for the 2020 season.

The defense probably just has to get to league average for the Cowboys to make a significant playoff push, although losing defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a season-ending injury didn’t help their chances. They cut veteran safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and they don’t appear to be interested in Earl Thomas, although that might be subject to change. Dallas posted the league’s third-worst interception rate last year at 1.2%; if that number rises above league average, the combination of a dominant offense and a bunch of short fields could net it the top seed in the NFC.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 11.7%
Chance to make the playoffs: 81.5%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +750

You’ll notice there’s a big leap in Super Bowl odds here. FPI gave the 49ers only a 2.8% chance of reaching the Super Bowl heading into last season and a 1.1% chance of snagging the Vince Lombardi Trophy. I was more optimistic about their chances of making it to the postseason, although I will be honest and admit that I didn’t think they were about to make it to Miami. While they didn’t win in the long run, the Niners getting that far is a reminder of how just how quickly a huge turnaround can come. San Francisco had been 14-47 since Jim Harbaugh left for Michigan, and then they won 15 games between the 2019 regular season and playoffs.

To get back and over the top, they need quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to stay healthy and some of his receivers to join him. We already know how great the defensive line can be, but the 49ers’ defense took a step backward when it lost linebacker Kwon Alexander and safety Jaquiski Tartt to injury at midseason. On the whole, the Niners had the league’s seventh-most injured defense by adjusted games lost; if they can be healthier on defense and the Seahawks take a step backward, as expected, San Francisco could run this back in 2020.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 13.2%
Chance to make the playoffs: 82.6%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +1100

While they weren’t able to execute a sign-and-trade deal for Jadeveon Clowney, the Saints have the deepest roster in all of football. You can pick holes here and there, but even if Drew Brees were to fall off at age 41, the Saints would be as well-positioned as anybody in football to deal with their starting quarterback struggling, given the presence of Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston in reserve.

I’ve written that I expect the Saints to decline after posting the fewest turnovers in a 16-game season in league history, but I still think they’ll be a 10- or 11-win team and rank among the best in the NFC. I would typically point toward home-field advantage as a goal for them to target, but they have lost at home in each of the past two postseasons, and it’s unclear whether fans will be allowed into stadiums come January. I still think they’re better off in a dome given Brees’ accuracy, and they’ll have to contend with the Buccaneers, but it would be a shock if New Orleans missed the playoffs.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 16.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 91.2%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +700

The only thing Baltimore didn’t do last season was win a postseason game, as Tennessee dominated in the red zone and on fourth down to help pull off an upset of the 14-2 Ravens. It’s tough for any team to keep that level of play up; over the past 30 years, teams that won 14 or more games in a year averaged 10 wins the following season, with five of the 20 teams failing to even post a winning record. The obvious scenario there would be if Lamar Jackson were to get injured. Jackson does an incredible job of avoiding big hits by getting out of bounds, but any quarterback who runs as frequently as he does is going to be subject to more risk than a passer who doesn’t take the ball on designed rushes.

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If Jackson doesn’t get injured, the Ravens should be in line for double-digit wins and a return trip to the playoffs. They’ll miss a pair of departed future Hall of Famers in safety Earl Thomas and guard Marshal Yanda, and it would be tough to imagine cornerback Marcus Peters playing quite as well as he did last season after coming over from the Rams, but the Ravens have made upgrades along their defensive line and should get more out of second-year breakout candidate Marquise Brown at wide receiver.

In taking a closer look at the Titans loss, I didn’t find anything to lead me to believe that the Titans had stumbled on a formula to stop Jackson. Future Super Bowl winners such as Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and John Elway have started their playoff careers with a pair of losses. If you want to believe there’s something wrong with Jackson that only pops up in the postseason, you’re entitled to your opinion. If the Ravens make it back to the playoffs this season, I suspect they’ll do more damage than they have in Jackson’s first two trips.

Chance to win Super Bowl LV: 21.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 94.0%
Caesars’ Super Bowl odds: +400

Forget Patrick Mahomes for a second. If you were going to craft the profile of a team likely to make a Super Bowl run in a season affected by COVID-19, you’d build the Chiefs. You would want a team with a legendary coach and continuity along its coaching staff. The Chiefs return Andy Reid and their entire coaching staff. You would want to also return a veteran roster, and the only players who played more than half of the offensive or defensive snaps who aren’t back for Kansas City in 2020 are guards Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Cam Erving. The Chiefs are in a relatively easy division and face the league’s 13th-easiest schedule.

Of course, you get all of that and the league’s best quarterback. The Chiefs can actually improve on their offense from 2019, both by getting a full season out of Mahomes and by improving in the red zone. They might even have upgraded at a position of (relative) weakness by replacing the likes of Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy with first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire, giving them a receiving back they haven’t had since cutting Kareem Hunt.

The simplest way I can put it is this: Everyone else has to exceed expectations to win the Super Bowl. All the Chiefs have to do is live up to expectations and be the Chiefs.

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