Mandatory Predictions: Our Rankings For the 2021 Super Bowl Playoff Champs
This has been one of the strangest NFL seasons in history. Before it even began, many people predicted that it was silly to think that a full season would be played. When multiple games were pushed to different dates because of COVID outbreaks, these people looked like they might be right. But, somehow, even with most teams playing in front of empty stadiums, a full 16-game season was actually completed.
When all was said and done, 14 teams made the postseason. That means that it’s time to make some predictions. We ranked the 14 teams based on the likelihood that they’ll be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Check back in February to see how wrong (or hopefully right) we were.
Photo: Jamie Squire (Getty Images)
14. Washington Football Team
Washington has a decent defense and one of the best up-and-coming receivers (Terry McLaurin). We also admit that the return of Alex Smith after a seemingly career-ending injury is a pretty great story. But this team is 7-9 and doesn’t even belong in the playoffs.
13. Chicago Bears
When we took a look at the final playoff teams, we were really surprised that we didn’t see Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. Somehow, the Chicago Bears made the postseason. Is Mitchell Trubisky still their quarterback? This team doesn’t have a chance.
12. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are one of the most befuddling teams in the NFL. On paper, they look like one of the best teams in the NFC. But they somehow only managed 10 wins and while Aaron Donald might be the biggest defensive disrupter in the NFL, we have no idea who is going to play quarterback for this likely overmatched team.
11. Cleveland Browns
Cleveland making the playoff is a great story. The “mistake by the lake” had been exactly that since its last playoff appearance in 2002. While the team doesn’t have the look of a Super Bowl champion, they might be able to sneak by a weak Pittsburgh team in the wildcard round.
10. Indianapolis Colts
Everyone is talking about how old Tom Brady is but did anyone realize that Phillip Rivers is 39? That’s no spring chicken. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has been dynamic at times and can definitely take over a game. But it probably won’t happen this year.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
When the Steelers were 11-0, fans were mad that people were calling them the worst undefeated team in history. As the team limped into the playoffs with four losses in their last five games, few teams are really afraid of the “terrible towel” and the rudderless Steelers.
8. Baltimore Ravens
While this probably isn’t the Ravens' year, there’s no disputing the fear Lamar Jackson instills in opposing defenses. Even though many critics will just say he’s a running back wearing a quarterback costume, that doesn’t change the fact that he can rush for 100 yards and throw for 200 in the same game. That’s scary.
7. Tennessee Titans
The Titans are a bit of a mystery. They have the unfavorable matchup with the Ravens in the wildcard round. If they can get past Baltimore, Tannehill, Henry, and company will be tough to beat. But they also just might lose to the Ravens in round one and then nobody will have to worry about them.
6. Seattle Seahawks
Like a few of the NFC playoff teams, Seattle is a complete mystery. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense can put up big numbers, but its defense has also played horribly at times. This team is the Jekyll and Hyde of the playoffs and its success has everything to do with which one shows up.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Did we mention that Tom Brady is 43 years old? Also, he threw for 40 touchdowns this year. Oh yeah, and he led the Bucs to the playoffs while the Patriots didn’t make it. This offense is stacked with Brady, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and others. They have the potential to outscore any opponent. What a story it would be if Brady got one more ring.
4. New Orleans Saints
The 2020 season might go down as the year of the old quarterback. Drew Brees, while still playing at a high level, has had some injury issues this season. But this team has shown that it can find ways to win in different ways. This is a tenacious team that can never be counted out.
3. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers just had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. But none of that matters when the playoffs begin. The Pack has the one NFC bye and with the highest-scoring offense in the NFL. We wouldn’t be surprised if they carry their regular-season mojo all the way to the Super Bowl.
2. Buffalo Bills
There’s no hotter team in the NFL than the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen and co. finished 13-3 and scored a jaw-dropping 142 points in its last three games. This includes a 56-26 drubbing of a Dolphins team that was fighting for a playoff spot. The fact that KC is the defending champs (and beat them this year already) is the only thing stopping them from being the top contender.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Any list that doesn’t have Kansas City as the top pick is just trying to be provocative. The Chiefs might not have wowed anyone over the last month, but the team's 14-2 (including a loss in the meaningless finale). Patrick Mahomes is an MVP candidate and until they lose, the defending champs are still the top dogs.
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