Why Your Favorite Team Won’t Win the Super Bowl: AFC Edition

Let me begin by unfortunately breaking the news to you…yes YOU…that there is a 96.875% chance that your favorite team will not win the Super Bowl this year. There are 32 teams in the NFL all vying for the same prize: a 22 inch, 7-pound chunk of metal that we all call the Vince Lombardi Trophy. And yet only 1 will be able to capture that elusive, yet prestigious piece of silver and call themselves the true Super Bowl champions.

I’m here to tell you that this won’t be your favorite team.

I am the pessimist in this situation. My goal in writing this article is to expose the weaknesses of every NFL franchise and to effectively get all of my readers to collectively hate me in one fell swoop.

That being said, I hope you at least find some enjoyment in seeing your most hated team ripped to shreds along with the rest of the league.

As the old saying goes: Misery loves company.

*Note: This is the AFC Edition of this article series. If you would like to check out the NFC Edition please click here.*

AFC East:

New England Patriots

Alright, let’s get this one out of the way.

The New England Patriots are a good football team. A DAMN good football team. But they showed in Week 1, that they certainly are nowhere near invincible.

The Patriots fell to the Chiefs in their season opener by a final score of 42-27 and while this is no reason to panic, the game served as a reminder that the Patriots have flaws. They showed weaknesses on defense and flat-out got beat in the trenches. Rookie Kareem Hunt rushed for 148 yards and added 98 more through the air. The Patriots defense made Alex Smith look like a world-beater as he threw for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns while amassing an 80% completion percentage en route to his stellar night.

Their young defensive line will hold the team back, and when compounded with a shaky O-Line and injuries to receivers such as Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell, it appears that Bill Belichick’s deal with the devil may have finally run out and the Pats will fall short of the promise land in 2017.

Miami Dolphins

For as much crap as Jay Cutler gets, he is still a competent NFL quarterback. Sure he has a knack for untimely interceptions and is sometimes erratic with the football, but the former Chicago Bears QB is a solid player whose natural arm talent gives this offense the big play ability it has been missing over the past few years.

But could he be a Super Bowl winning QB?

Hell if Joe Flacco could win a Super Bowl so can Jay Cutler!

But the difference is, the Dolphins don’t have nearly the defense that the 2012 Ravens did. This isn’t to say that their defense is bad, in fact, it’s in some ways underrated, but their defense isn’t going to carry them to the promise land.

Perhaps the team’s biggest weakness comes with their offensive line, particularly their guards. Veterans Jermon Bushrod and Anthony Steen currently occupy those roles and it’s going to take more than Laremy Tunsil and a half-crippled Mike Pouncey to stabilize that line and give Miami a fair shot at the Super Bowl.

Buffalo Bills

Some of these entries write themselves.

Look, if you’re a Bills fan and you sincerely believe that your team has a chance at winning the Super Bowl then I’d like to congratulate you on being the world’s biggest optimist. You truly are an inspiration to us all.

But let’s be real here…this is not a good football team.

Sure they have LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor is an underrated, albeit unspectacular quarterback, but all realistic hopes the Bills had of even making the playoffs went out the window when the team traded away Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby in August of this year.

Now, their 2017 season looks to be as sad as a Bills fan who still wears their Sammy Watkins jersey.

You know who you are.

New York Jets

The Jets Super Bowl hopes can be summed up with one GIF.

Moving on.

AFC West:

Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders may have one of the best offenses as a whole in the league, complete with the triumphant return of “Beast Mode” himself Marshawn Lynch, a good receiving core, and one of the best offensive lines in football (apart from their hole at right tackle). This, all while the promising young signal-caller, Derek Carr, leads the team out to the field every Sunday.

However, the team’s defense is much more of a concern. Last year, the Raiders finished in the bottom 10 in both passing and rushing yards allowed. Pass rush, particularly interior pass rush remains their biggest concern.

Despite having one of the best pass rushers in the game in Khalil Mack, Oakland finished dead last in sacks last season and when combined, the total sacks on ALL defensive tackles on the roster equate to a whopping ZERO. Not a single interior pass rusher on the Oakland Raiders has ever recorded an NFL sack at the time of this writing.

It’s going to be a long season in Oaktown if the team continues to struggle with getting to the quarterback sans Khalil Mack.

Denver Broncos

Let’s be honest here. Is there anyone who thinks that there is a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback currently on the Denver Broncos roster?

No. Didn’t think so.

Trevor Siemian is what he is. Despite his hot start to the season, Siemian is a below average quarterback who might keep you in some games but ultimately his inferior talent will prove to be more of a hindrance than the Broncos faithful would hope.

Paxton Lynch has been a huge disappointment since his arrival in Denver and his development has been sluggish, to say the least. Perhaps GM John Elway finally admits his mistake and gives up on the former Memphis Tiger. Or perhaps he gets a chance to start this year which could prove to be more of a disaster than the New York Jets season might be.

Shots fired.

And then there’s Brock Osweiler who just spent the last season throwing more completions to his opponent than he did touchdowns to his own team.

Regardless of the QB, it’s a damn shame that this team will fall short of another Super Bowl despite perhaps the best defense in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs

Before I start receiving any angry, hurtful comments (because the internet is a wonderful place) for what I’m about to say let me first publicly declare that I think that the Kansas City Chiefs are a good football team. I think that Alex Smith is a good quarterback. And I think that they certainly have a shot at winning a Super Bowl.

I just don’t think they will.

Now the Chiefs defense, even after the recent season-ending injury to Eric Berry, is still one of the most talented, complete units in the league. Marcus Peters, Derrick Johnson, and Justin Houston are defensive stalwarts and their offense features exciting playmakers such as Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and the emerging Kareem Hunt.

So what gives?

Alex Smith.

Listen, I’m a huge Alex Smith fan. I love his game style and think that he is one of the most underrated players in the game today. That being said I just don’t see him winning a Super Bowl with this team. Not with the Tom Brady’s and the Aaron Rodgers of the league still sitting atop the NFL.

Alex Smith is a good quarterback, I just don’t see him leading a 4th quarter drive to clinch a Super Bowl for the Chiefs.

*Please direct all hate-mail to my SUNY Cortland email address and I ask for you not to be too harsh…I’m sensitive*

Los Angeles Chargers

Last season the Chargers might’ve been the best 5-win team in NFL history. At this point, it may be a forgotten fact but this is a team that defeated the Atlanta Falcons (who of course went on to compete in the Super Bowl) in Week 7. However, this is a team that also gave the Cleveland Browns their only victory.

It was a weird year for the Bolts.

The team has a solid group of skill players on offense with Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, and Hunter Henry leading the way. They have Phillip Rivers under center and their pass rush features some above-average talent such as second-year standout Joey Bosa and the unheralded Melvin Ingram.

But their gaping holes along the offensive line and in the secondary will hold this team back from making any significant noise come winter.

AFC North:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Some of these are easy, some of them are hard. This one’s more of the latter.

Trying to find a weakness on this stacked Steelers team is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Only if that needle was a group of NFL-sized football players and that haystack was a professional football franchise.

But you get the point.

The offense is chock full of talented playmakers ranging from Le’Veon Bell to Antonio Brown. But what happens if Ben Roethlisberger’s injuries finally catch up to him? Do you trust Landry Jones or rookie Joshua Dobbs to lead this team to the Super Bowl? Are the New York Jets a good football team?

The answer to the latter two questions should undoubtedly be a resounding “NO” but I will accept a “HELL NO” or even a sassy “HELL to the NO” as a correct response.

Now I understand this is simply speculation, but perhaps a more concrete weakness on this team comes with their secondary or even their pass rush. Their starting corners feature an aging Joe Haden and an inexperienced Artie Burns, who to his credit is coming off a solid season, and their safeties aren’t anything to write home about either.

Add to that a pass rush that was second-to-last in the league in sacks last season and you have a team that could struggle to defend the pass this year. And that might be what ultimately holds this talented team back.

Baltimore Ravens

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Baltimore Ravens football team. They have an average running game, average receivers, and a slightly above average defense, but they lack the star power to be a top team in this league.

At this point, it’s safe to say that the age-old argument of whether or not Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback has been put to rest.

He isn’t.

Say it with me: Joe Flacco is NOT elite. For those of you who still think he is elite, this can be a therapeutic exercise for you. Repeat that sentence every day in front of a mirror until you understand the pure mediocrity that is Joe Flacco.

I realize I may be underrating him just a little bit and, when healthy, it’s safe to say that he could be a good quarterback, but this still doesn’t change the fact that he’s not going to lead a team of average performers to the promise land.

The defense, and team as a whole, has gotten off to a hot start forcing a myriad of turnovers, but it’s highly unlikely that level of play will continue. Defensive backs Brandon Carr and Ladarius Webb both already have two interceptions apiece and although they’re both veterans who’ve had successful careers, it’s likely they won’t keep it up.

Don’t be fooled by Baltimore’s quick start, this team doesn’t have the depth or star power to keep it up.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals 2017 season has gotten off to a disastrous start. Within two games, the team has fired its offensive coordinator and there are rumblings of both benching their starting quarterback and firing their head coach.

Not how you want to start your year.

Andy Dalton has looked about as comfortable as a cat in a bathtub and while some of this can be blamed on his offensive line which is evidently missing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, Dalton’s 0 TD and 4 INT stat line does tell a story of his play thus far.

He has been missing wide open receivers left and right and the boos from the Bengals faithful continue to pour down at an increasing rate. Calls for a replacement are becoming commonplace ranging from backup A.J. McCarron to Colin Kaepernick and all of this pressure must be getting to Dalton’s head.

The Bengals are a team in turmoil and appear to be headed down a dark path. A path filled with fan outrage and player resentment and if they’re not careful, this could turn uglier than the situation already is.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns will not win the Super Bowl this year. I don’t think you need me to tell you that.

This is a team that has spent the last decade or so as the punchline to the majority of NFL jokes and have had as many starting quarterbacks during that time as they have had wins over the past 5 seasons…combined.

Yes that’s an actual fact.

Now the franchise has made plenty of moves to push the team in the right direction. They have cleared up an abundance of cap space, signed the aforementioned Kevin Zeitler to stabilize their offensive line and actually give them a unit of strength, and acquired future draft picks to help this team dig itself out of the hole that exists in the depths of the NFL’s darkest franchises. New York Jets I’m looking at you.

That being said, it’s going to take time before this team is looked at as a viable playoff contender, let alone an actual Super Bowl threat. For now, they’ll continue to occupy last place in the AFC North, unless the Bengals can give them a run for their money.

AFC South:

Houston Texans

Will the real Texans offensive and defensive lines please stand up!

Not as catchy? Fair enough.

But seriously, this team had their behinds handed to them in the trenches during their first game against the Jaguars allowing 10, yes 10, sacks as their defense looked like a shell of its former self.

Then Week 2 came around and the team did a complete 180. The pass rush finally showed up and the defense showed signs of the dominance it had displayed in the past. The offensive line, although still dealing with some difficulties, played much better and appeared to be a capable starting unit despite its weaknesses at tackle.

Nonetheless, they are clearly missing standout Duane Brown who continues his holdout while the team starts 4th-round draft pick Julie’n Davenport and Jets outcast Breno Giacomini at the two tackle positions. This could prove to hold the team’s offensive production back and perhaps even stunt the development of their young signal-caller Deshaun Watson.

Ultimately, the team’s inconsistencies and inexperience at quarterback will halt the Texans from making any sort of significant playoff push.

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans are a solid football team. They have a young, talented quarterback and host one of the best running games in football behind their stellar offensive line and promising running backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. This is a team that, if all goes according to plan, will be talked about as legitimate contenders for a Super Bowl in a couple of years.

They’re just not there yet.

Despite his playmaking ability and obvious growth over the last couple years, Marcus Mariota is still going through growing pains and is still a step below the NFL’s elite QBs.

He has one of the league’s best tight ends at his disposal in Delanie Walker but the remainder of this offensive targets remain a work in progress. The team brought in veteran Eric Decker in the offseason and drafted Corey Davis in the first round but neither has made a significant impact thus far. Davis has battled nagging injuries and Decker has simply failed to mesh with his new quarterback.

On top of that, the team’s defense remains a big question mark as despite the editions of Logan Ryan and rookie Adoree’ Jackson in the secondary, the unit still remains an area of concern.

There are simply too many “ifs” and not enough “definites” to consider this team a serious threat.

But given a couple years, the Titans can make some serious noise in the AFC.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts should seriously consider renaming their franchise to the Indianapolis “Andrew Lucks” since he essentially is their team.

I partially kid, but the Colts have proved that without Andrew Luck under center, this team is one of the NFL’s least talented, mostly filled with a roster of nobody’s with a couple veteran names such as T.Y. Hilton and Vontae Davis sprinkled in.

Their running game is unspectacular and their receiving depth behind Hilton and Donte Moncrief is almost non-existent. However, it’s their offensive line that’s truly the issue as their struggles remain a large reason as to why Andrew Luck can’t stay healthy.

And outside of Davis, who’s the biggest name on this Colts defense?

Johnathan Hankins? Jabaal Sheard? John Simon?

I rest my case.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Scott Tolzien, Jacoby Brissett, or even Andrew Luck at QB, this team is not winning a Super Bowl anytime soon unless they find a way to fill the many holes on this depleted team.

And the offensive line should come first…before Andrew Luck is permanently handicapped.

Jacksonville Jaguars

I hate to end like this….really I do….but there’s just one reason that the Jaguars aren’t considered a “good” team by today’s standards.

And that reason’s name is Blake Bortles.

It’s as simple as that.

The defense is damn good and the team has shown that with rookie Leonard Fournette they can power run with the best of them. But Blake Bortles is holding them back.

The Jags made all the right adjustments in the offseason to beef up their already pretty solid defense. They added Pro Bowl edge rusher Calais Campbell and breakout star A.J. Bouye at cornerback to a defense that already had a young core of Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, and Yannick Ngakoue among others. Unfortunately, they failed to address the one recurring problem that continues to plague the team.

Blake Bortles.

Perhaps it’s out of stubbornness. Or perhaps the team actually feels that they can win with Bortles under center.

Whatever the reason, it’s a shame that such a young and talented team will be wasted while the 4th year quarterback from Central Florida continues to call the plays.


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