Here at NFL Fans UK Towers (it would be good if we had our own corporate HQ but that’s one for another day), we have started to look ahead to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. A couple of days ago, we posted the thoughts of some of the team, who between them extolled the virtues of the 49ers, Ravens, Patriots, Seahawks and Packers as potential Super Bowl winners.
Here’s part two, with some of our other writers making a case for those who may be seen as outsiders, but will still be harbouring dreams of lifting the Lombardi trophy in February. in February 2020.
Who doesn’t love an underdog? At the start of the season, optimism was clearly high for the Vikings going into the post-season and claiming a maiden Super Bowl victory. After a 2-2 start, resulting in two divisional losses, many wrote off the Vikings, but since then, Kirk Cousins has played like a man possessed: he was the top-ranked QB through the month of October, sitting first for 20+ yard passes, QB rating since Week 5, completion percentage when pressured, QB rating against the blitz and yards per attempt, and has a QB rating of 132.8 in the red zone. He’s looking more and more like the man who earned that big-money deal. Oh and the Vikings also rank No.1 for passing Offense in that same time. And the best thing? The Vikings don’t make the same mistake twice and a big stretch of play-off games will probably pitch them against teams they’ve already played. And that familiarity could set them in good stead.
James Hill, Minnesota Vikings writer
The 6-3 Texans are a tough one to call. The rookie records broken by Deshaun Watson are too numerous to list here (but he is, for example, the first player to pass for 400+ yards, throw four or more touchdowns and rush for 50+ yards in a single game) but his quality is undisputed, a man very much in the MVP conversation. And he has DeAndre Hopkins to throw too. But it is on the other side of the ball that the Texans go slightly under the radar, especially with the absence of JJ Watt. But Doug Marrone, the Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach, doesn’t believe they are demonstrably weaker without him. “JJ Watt is a Hall of Fame player, great player. But they have a lot of other good players up front,” he said in London recently. “I think when you look at them defensively and you look at the guys up front, I think DJ Reader is probably one of the best players I know that we play against on a consistent basis. But all those guys up front are very strong, very solid. Anthony Weaver is their defensive line coach. I think he does a great job.” Great enough to produce a championship-winning defense? Watch this space.
Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, the Chiefs’ running game may be weaker than it was during their run to the AFC Championship game last season – averaging a touch over 90 yards a game, to put them 24th in the league – and, yes, their defense is less than championship standard. Going into Week 11, they have conceded more points than any of the other divisional leaders. But is there a better quarterback than a fully fit Patrick Mahomes? And their play-caller extraordinaire is backed up by his battery of elite receivers. Mahomes was admittedly going through a slump (by his standards) before the injury that forced him out of Week 7 and onto the sidelines for a further two games – he threw for 10 touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, only five in the four games after that – but he was showing signs that he was back to his best in the narrow defeat by Tennessee last weekend. And he has still thrown only one interception all season. So yes, they are less of a bet than they were at this stage last season. But you would be foolish to count Mahomes out.
Buffalo Bills, Super Bowl Champions? You absolutely can see it. They have the qualities, quietly sitting 6-3 in the AFC East. Josh Allen, each week, is looking more and more legit in the NFL, his receiving core his good without needing to be amazing with John Brown and Cole Beasley, Frank Gore is looking timeless and do we forget that if Josh Allen didn’t need to leave the field against the Patriots, they could well be sitting at 7-2 (and, arguably, be first in the AFC East). They do everything right, rather quietly, and that is why they cannot be ruled out of the Super Bowl discussion. You don’t need to be the best, you just need to do the fundamentals right and Buffalo check every single box in that regard, sitting rather quietly at 25th for points, 23rd for yards per game, 24th for passing yards and 12th for rushing yards. It’s nothing spectacular, but they do the right things at the right times, and that is how you win Super Bowls.
James Hill, Minnesota Vikings writer
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have taken a hit in most people’s power rankings this week, after a loss to the Falcons giving Atlanta their second win of the year and the Saints their second loss. However the Saints are still the No.1 contender in the NFC and for the Super Bowl this year. The main reason for the Saints being the best team in the NFC is that they have been through something that no other team has gone through, which is go undefeated without their starting quarterback. Back-up QB Teddy Bridgewater put together a five-game winning streak in the absence of Drew Brees, this only credits how strong they are as a team. That they can lose a future Hall of Famer at the most important position on the field and still win games, this gives them a strength that puts them ahead of everyone else. It’s always been said that in order to win championships you need a strong defense and rushing attack, well that is exactly how the Saints win games and with stars like Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore on their defense it’s easy to see why they’re ranked fifth in yards allowed per game.
Ollie Hewitt, New York Giants writer