NFL 2012: Which Team Has the Best Chance of Winning Its First Super Bowl
Some teams have been agonizingly close. Some teams have won more than once. Others have yet to win their conference and punch a ticket to the big game.
Here are, in order of least likely to most likely, the fourteen teams that enter the 2012 season hoping to end their championship droughts.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Maurice Jones-Drew is literally the only bright spot for the Jags in 2012, and he's not even in camp yet.
Toss in the belief that Blaine Gabbert doesn't look like he'll pan out to be the franchise quarterback Jacksonville thought he'd be, a new coaching staff, and a first-round draft pick who made headlines the wrong way early on, and it all adds up to a long season in Jacksonville.
13. Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
Let's ignore for a moment the fact that they play in a division with three other legitimate playoff contenders.
We don't know how good Christian Ponder is going to be, nor do we know the lasting effects of Adrian Peterson's injury.
The defense is aging and without any true playmakers.
Forget a Super Bowl trip, they'll be lucky to do better than fourth in the NFC North.
12. Cleveland Browns
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
Like Minnesota, the Browns find themselves in a division loaded with playoff-caliber teams.
Cleveland got arguably the most talented player in the 2012 NFL Draft in Trent Richardson and what would appear to be the quarterback of the future in Brandon Weeden. However, they still have a talent gap between themselves and the rest of their division.
11. Arizona Cardinals
Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE
The Cardinals appear to be set at every position with the exception of quarterback.
Unfortunately for them, that's a big exception.
You must have stability at the quarterback position to be able to win in the NFL.
Once Arizona has it, they might be a threat to take the next step.
10. Tennessee Titans
Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
If Jake Locker can step into the starting quarterback role and have moderate success, the Titans should finish no worse than second in the NFC South, putting them in position for a playoff berth.
The Titans are loaded with potential, but will continue on the path of mediocrity if they fail to reach it.
9. Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE
The Seattle Seahawks have young talent on both sides of the ball, a coach with great energy, and an underrated fan base.
If they can come out of training camp knowing exactly who their starting quarterback is, they may contend in an NFC West division that some may be prematurely handing to the 49ers.
8. Buffalo Bills
Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE
Unless the wheels fall completely off New England's bus, I don't see the Bills winning the AFC East.
That said, Buffalo has the look of a wild card team who could play the role of spoiler in the postseason.
Even then, they're still a ways away from erasing the painful memories of four straight Super Bowl losses.
7. Carolina Panthers
Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
I admit, I like the swagger these guys have coming into the 2012 season. It is likely that Cam Newton will win a title in his career, I just don't know if it will happen this year.
The NFC South may be the toughest division in the NFL. Winning it would be an accomplishment on its own.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
The Bengals could be the 49ers of 2012. They are set at every position on offense, largely due to the acquisition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
It will be tough to make the playoffs again out of the AFC North, but if they do, they'll be a dangerous team in January.
5. San Diego Chargers
Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
With Norv Turner's back against the wall and his backside on the hot seat, the Chargers should enter 2012 motivated to save his job.
Philip Rivers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL without a Super Bowl ring. He'll have the talent around him to win the AFC West this season..
If the Chargers can do exactly that, they'll be a tough out in the postseason.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
After back-to-back trips to the postseason, the Falcons are aware of what it takes to get to the playoffs.
The next step is to win once there.
The 2012 team, led by Matt Ryan and the elite receiving duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones, may be ready to ready to make a serious run at the franchise's first Super Bowl championship.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
I don't know about being a dynasty, but the 2012 Eagles are as talented as anyone on paper.
Winning the NFC East would likely mean a first-round playoff bye and at least one home game, setting the stage for Vick and the Eagles to make another run at a title.
2. Detroit Lions
Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
Detroit tasted moderate success for the first time in a long time in 2011.
The offense enters 2012 as talented as any, while the front seven of the defense should again be fierce.
As long as the Lions can keep their focus on the field and leave their offseason troubles behind them, this could be a special season in the Motor City.
1. Houston Texans
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
The Texans have arguably the easiest path to a division title in 2012, setting up a first-round bye and possibly home field advantage in the playoffs.
If Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson can all get through the season unscathed, the Houston Texans could be unstoppable in the month of January.