A day after the New Orleans Saints capped off their impressive Super Bowl win, analysts, fans, press, and players are already speculating about who will be the lucky team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy over their heads next year and claim themselves victors of 2010.
When you think of possible victors, though, you don't think of teams such as the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, or the Buffalo Bills. No, the under-performing, below .500 teams are often overshadowed by your Colts, Packers, Steelers, and Cowboys of the league. Which leaves me asking the question: When is the little guys' turn?
Realistically, I have no answer for that. No one does, but hey, I can speculate, right? Here's a list of the most under-performing teams that are in the most need of a Super Bowl win.
1. Detroit Lions
Ah yes, the 0-16 boys. For those of you who laughed when the struggling Lions failed to post a single win last season, Detroit may just have the last laugh on you. OK, so the Lions only managed to post two wins overall in 2009, but amongst all of the chaos that has been going on in Detroit, the Lions did show signs of stability and poise at times during the season.
The most notable reference I can come up with is the Detroit vs. Cleveland game in the second half of the season. Though he was not previously a miracle worker, rookie quarterback Matt Stafford showed some guts and managed to win the game in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter to give the Lions a well-deserved win.
Given, he is no superstar just yet, but it does give head coach Jim Schwartz some confidence for the future.
The Detroit fanbase has suffered like none other. More than likely covering the entire paper bag side of recycling, the Lions have managed to hide their shame well for the most part. However, Uncle Lombardi is yet to come knocking, and Detroit is yet to experience any success since the Barry Sander days.
Still, things could change. They have young talent, but talent nonetheless. Just give them some time. For a franchise as old and full of history as Detroit is, it would be disappointing for an entire lifetime to pass without the men in blue getting it done at least once.
2. Cleveland Browns
It was a tossup between Cleveland and Oakland for the No. 2 spot, but since Oakland has experienced Super Bowl success, Cleveland takes it.
The Dawg Pound is notorious for making noise, but it hasn't really done much for its team. Get as drunk as you like, wearing a Browns jersey in this day and age will merit some ridiculing.
However, the Browns, like the Lions, have shown some depth in the quarterback position, which could pay off in the future. Now that Brady Quinn is basically out of the picture, Derek Anderson has once again been selected to fill the void in Cleveland. Doing a decent job against teams late in the 2009 season, Anderson's future is in his own hands.
One thing the Browns lack is a decent wide receiver corp. Without Braylon Edwards, the Browns don't have that experienced guy who can get the job done. The draft may be kind to them, but I do think a trade is needed to get this team back on track.
Fan wise, Cleveland faithfuls don't seem too upset for some reason. Out of the minority that I have spoken to, they are often in good spirits about their struggling Browns. Still, a Lombardi trophy could change things, and it would be a massive talking point in the AFC if it is to happen in the near future. Right now, though, I don't see it.
3. Buffalo Bills
It's tough to say where to start and where to end with this team. When Terrell Owens originally signed with the Bills, most people thought they would get back on track. Unfortunately, it's ended up doing more harm than good.
The fanbase is still going strong and Ralph Wilson Stadium is still being sold out. Team wise, though, the Bills just aren't living up. At times they show glimpses of a team on the rise, but then they just disappoint once again. It's almost like a poor magician. Sometimes they can pull the tricks, while other times it just turns out to be a disaster.
Questions and speculation still surround the Bills, as the ownership is rich with history. Maybe the old roots finally need to be dug out so that a push toward the future begins with youth. Many people have said this before, though, and the Bills haven't listened.
In the past the Bills have given their fans something to cheer about, but it's only ended up in more sorrow. We all recall the missed field goal, and I don't think I need to really say too much about that.
The future can hold good things for the Bills, but I'm no fortune teller. My guess is as good as the next guy's. It seems just when you give this team credit, they backfire and make you look like a fool. Right now, though, let's just say a Lombardi Trophy is nowhere near Buffalo.
4. Oakland Raiders
To quote Chris Berman, "Last but not least, it's the Raaaiiiddddeeerrrs." This team is the definition of confusion. Tom Cable is still present, and Jamarcus Russell is still in the picture (although it would have to be a rather wide frame).
Although the Raiders have experienced success, it was a long time ago. 1983 to be exact. With a 5-11 season under their belts in 2009, it looks like it's going to be another 10 years still before the Raiders even climb above .500.
At least there are some positives with this team. Nnamdi Asomugha is still around, and Darren McFadden is still a stable running back to have. The Draft is really going to be the most important part for the Raiders, as they aren't quite high enough for the best pick, but they could win out with a fairly handy wide receiver when it's all said and done.
Coaching is the bigger issue, though, and until it's solved I just don't see the playoffs even happening in Oakland. The media has said time and time again how important it is to fire Tom Cable, but owner Al Davis isn't listening. When has he?
Until changes are made, Vince Lombardi's iconic message will still be, "What the hell is going on out here?", and this time, it will predominantly be in regards to the Oakland Raiders.
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