The good old rebuild is now underway as we steamroll into yet another NFL season. We all have a hunch on today’s Super Bowl contenders, and I’m sure you placed a bet on at least one team to make it to Lombardi land.
But it’s never too early to look into the crystal ball to check out the Super Bowl contenders of tomorrow. This article is one that you’ll want to read and save for future reference, as it outlines six teams building in 2020 who could become legit Super Bowl contenders in 2021.
The following teams listed are not those who are obvious bets. For example, your Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kansas City Chiefs aren’t listed. Instead, this article is about teams who won’t or aren’t contending in 2020, but could contend in 2021.
Read on to discover who’s hot for 2021.
1 – New York Giants
I did a season projection and had the Giants finishing 1-15. While they’re probably in the 4-12 range because of good games, upsets, and injuries, they’re that team who is a year away from making noise in the NFL.
The G-Men are young but full of untapped potential that will come with time. If they had an experienced coach plus experience in a specific offensive system, I’d be high on them as a solid sleeper bet this season.
Obviously, with no offseason and preseason in 2020, it’s not the case for the New York Giants. No one’s expecting this team to pull off a stunner as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals did in Week 1.
But looking at this roster, you have got to love what you see. Daniel Jones easily could’ve broken Baker Mayfield’s rookie record for touchdown passes had he been the Day 1 starter. He tossed 24 in 2019 and look for better production as this season wears on.
Behind Jones is offensive centerpiece Saquon Barkley, who needs no introduction. You look to the pass-catching unit and you have a decent trio in Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, and Sterling Shepherd. Plus, you’ve got a blue-chip pass-catcher in tight end Evan Engram.
The offensive line is also in a better spot starting with tackle Andrew Thomas, among others.
Expect the G-Men to continue fixing the o-line and defensive side of the ball in the offseason and yes, expect them to hang with some of the NFC East’s most talented teams. At the time of writing, the two favs to win the East are sitting at 0-1.
2 – Chicago Bears
You knew the Bears’ defense would hold the Lions’ hot offense in the season opener. What you didn’t know was that the Mitchell Trubisky-led offense was going to put up 21 points in a comeback victory for Chicago.
This tells you a few things about the Chicago Bears. Their defense is good enough to stop anyone while their offense is still inconsistent at best. Hey, it’s great to put up 27 points in any game, but put an asterisk by it. They were playing Detroit.
With that said, expect the offense to continue its struggles or at least its inconsistencies.
The Bears are halfway there with a solid defense. Don’t the greatest teams boast good defenses? The offense is spotty, so they’re one strong draft and free agency away from us reminiscing on the 1985 and 2006 teams.
3 – Arizona Cardinals
Raise your hand if you expected the Arizona Cardinals. Yeah, those Arizona Cardinals!
I projected the team would cover the 7-point spread, but no, I didn’t expect Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins (K-1 and Nuk) to put up a show like that with hardly any time spent together in training camp.
Yeah, it was an ugly win for the Cardinals but against the talented Niners, a win is a win. The Cards were the one team I hesitated to put onto this list given the fact that at least on paper, this is their best team since the Bruce Arians era.
But they’re still young, and the defense has very little experience playing with one another. This was evident when rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons forgot to cover Niners’ running back Raheem Mostert en route to the latter’s 76-yard reception.
The Cardinals’ year might be this season. In my projection at Playoff Predictors, they went 12-4 considering the talent they built up. However, they’re more realistically an 8-8 to 10-6 team in 2020.
Give them one more season, and you’ll find them in contention for more than just the playoffs or an NFC West title in 2021.
4 – New England Patriots
So much for the Pats’ defense struggling given the loss of six key starters because of opt-outs and free agency. The team picked off Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick three times and held the upstart Dolphins to 11 points.
However, we still need a greater sample size as to how the New England Patriots will play some of the AFC’s best like their division rival, the Buffalo Bills. The latter of whom has its most talented team since Jim Kelly retired.
The Pats also must play the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. And with such a rushed training camp, new faces on defense, plus a new face in Cam Newton at quarterback, the Pats are probably better-equipped to return to the top of the league in 2021.
They will take a step back in 2020 because of the truncated offseason and a slew of new players on defense. Don’t think they’re not making the playoffs, though. However, you can expect to see the team return to normalcy in 2021 when this younger squad gains valuable experience.
5 – Cincinnati Bengals
You gotta feel for Joe Burrow. The guy didn’t play a good game, but he played well enough to put the Bengals in position to tie the game and force overtime. Then, Randy Bullock went out and in true Cincinnati Bengals fashion, missed a 31-yard field goal.
The Bengals can at least contend with teams they’re supposed to contend with. They’ll also find themselves losing big to other teams.
With a rookie quarterback in Burrow and a defense that won’t mesh until at least Week 8 (though they looked good against LA), expect growing pains down the stretch. However, this team should have enough talent to contend with its division rivals in 2021, especially if their fellow Ohio team, the Cleveland Browns, continue to do what they do best—blow their own expectations.
Their odds are even greater if Ben Roethlisberger either calls it quits or starts to play like Tom Brady over in Tampa.
The Bengals will be lucky to win four games this season, but they should be on your playoff radar for 2021.
However, the Steelers won’t win too many games if Ben hangs it up, and they don’t have a viable replacement. But they’re still threats.
The Ravens are in gimmick land with that offense of theirs, and quarterback Lamar Jackson is one big hit away from getting sidelined. Watching the Browns-Ravens game during Week 1, Jackson takes way too many hits, more than his 210-pound frame can absorb.
And it’s never a question of how teams will beat the Browns, but how the Browns will end up blowing the game. The fastest team on the rise in the AFC North is the Cincinnati Bengals.
And they may just be the fastest rising team in the AFC.
6 – Tennessee Titans
Sure, the Tennessee Titans can pull off another stunner here in 2020, and I’m sure some of you bet on them to win the AFC and perhaps hoist the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy.
However, the question remains if they can make a repeat of what happened in 2019. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is one of many one-year-wonder quarterbacks at this point in his career. Those of us who bet conservatively need a greater sample size.
And can the defense stop anyone? They ranked 21st in total defense in 2019 and seemed to come up with the big play when needed. However, early returns on prize free agent Vic Beasley are far from encouraging.
Also, the Titans have gone 9-7 in 4 consecutive seasons and haven’t posted double-digit wins since their 13-3 outing in 2008. It was also the last time they won the AFC South. It’s been a while.
So, with all due respect, the Titans are at least a year away until they prove they’re better than a second or third-place finisher in the not-so-talented AFC South. They also need to prove their 2019 playoff run wasn’t a fluke.
Could they take it this season?
But they’re a few building blocks away from reaching double-digit wins, as they proved in 2019.
You could probably add a few more teams to this list. Those who just missed the cut were the Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, and Washington Football Team. All of whom I see as major contender teams to bet on in 2022, but could easily prove me wrong in 2021.
What are your thoughts on this list? And is there anyone listed here you plan on placing a bet on next season? Or are you a major risk-taker who will bet on someone for 2020?
Let us know in the comments.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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