Super Bowl 2011: 10 Teams With The Best Chance Of Challenging Next Year
After a thrilling and historic Super Bowl XLV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, we already take a look into the future of the NFL. Who is going to be the next team to hoist the Lombardi trophy?
The NFL is truly at one if it's most exciting spots ever given the amount of talent dispersed throughout all 32 NFL cities.
Without further ado, here are the top ten teams with the best chance of returning to the Super Bowl:
10. Dallas Cowboys
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Believe it or not, the Cowboys are going into next season as one of the most complete football teams in the NFL.
Offensively, they know what they are. With Romo back under the helm, his chemistry with receivers Austin, Williams, and Bryant will be back to full strength.
Defensively, I think they're are one solid cornerback away from having an extremely opportunistic and playmaking kind of defense that refuses to be taken advantage of.
Look for the Cowboys to come back in a big way next year making it to the playoffs out of the NFC East and competing for a chance at next year's Super Bowl.
9. Baltimore Ravens
Nick Laham/Getty Images
It's hard to rule a team out that went 12-4 in 2010 and on defense, has set the tone year in and year out for going on years now.
Baltimore ranked top 10 in defensive yards allowed. On the ground, they held running backs to an average of 93.9 yards a game ranking fifth in the NFL.
It seems to me the Ravens have a way of finding success in the NFL.
Now, it's up to Joe Flacco to take them to the promise land. He's got a positive record in the playoffs comparing wins to losses, but he hasn't won an AFC championship game yet. Maybe next year's the year.
8. Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
The Eagles soared onto the map this year with a different style of play than recent memory has it.
Philly won back the NFC East with an 11-5 record in 2010 battling adversity and facing tough coaching decisions specifically at the quarterback position.
In retrospect, the Eagles were one bad Michael Vick pass away from possibly making the same run the Packers just did. Before everyone jumped on Green Bay, it was the Eagles that looked like the team to make it back to the Super Bowl in a Cinderella like story behind number 7.
With an established team headed into 2011, the Eagles just might land themselves in a Super Bowl game next year.
7. Indianapolis Colts
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The Colts had a rough season. Let's face it. 6-6 with 4 games to go was not where Jim Caldwell, Peyton Manning, and the Indianapolis Colts wanted to be. Nevertheless, they found a way to take care of business and won out winning another AFC South title.
It was a small victory beating Jacksonville towards the end of the season resulting in another first round home game this time against the Jets.
A 16-14 loss was a very unorthodox kind of playoff game for the Colts. They had a lot of injuries they were dealing with, and simply didn't have the offense ready to go come playoff time. 14 points is not Indianapolis football. Especially in the playoffs.
However, a big time free agent like Sidney Rice somehow finds his way to the state of Indiana, and you got a Peyton Manning offense that's ready to break some records. I'm calling the Colts a serious playoff contender come next year.
6. New Orleans Saints
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Saints couldn't believe it. After everything they've been through two seasons ago winning a championship, to lose to a Seattle team that went 7-9 in the regular season was beyond heartbreaking in this year's playoffs.
Now, Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and the New Orleans Saints put their nose to the grind again putting another chance to play in a Super Bowl as their ultimate goal.
Last year was an excellent year for New Orleans but was overshadowed by another team in the NFC South the Atlanta Falcons who went 14-2.
Nonetheless, the Saints racked up 474 yards of offense last season, ranking first in the NFL in that category, as well as first in passing yards at 397 yards a game. Look for New Orleans to re-gain a high berth in the playoff pool of the NFC's finest 6 in 2011.
5. New York Jets
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Jets for two straight years have come one game shy of playing on Super Bowl Sunday. They've done this all the while with a quarterback who was a rookie and then a second year player. Imagine if the Jets had a Rivers or a Manning or a Brady? Keep imagining because the Jets are extremely committed to their quarterback Mark Sanchez.
This year the Jets started out 9-2, lost a couple games down the stretch but still found themselves as a 6th seed wildcard in this year's playoffs.
They took down the Colts in an impressive win, they took down the Patriots in an even more impressive win, and then just fell short in Pittsburgh trying to erase a 24 point deficit at one point in the AFC championship.
So what do the Jets need? Well, I'd say all they really need is to be considered a high caliber team that can compete with anybody. I know they believe that, but once they get to a Super Bowl they'll finally prove that.
The defense the Jets have and the supporting cast on offense surrounding Mark Sanchez makes them more than qualified for another chance at a ring in 2011.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
It was an interesting year for Pittsburgh to say the least. They went into the 2010 season dishing off their Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Santonio Holmes due to conduct mishap. They also started the first quarter of the season without Big Ben under center.
Still, they managed to go 12-4, clinch a first round bye, and beat both wildcard teams out of the AFC in the Ravens and then the Jets to make it to Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys stadium. What a feat.
However, a two-minute drill at the end of the game when the Steelers were down 6 ended rather abruptly after just one first down. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh is everything consistent in the world of football so expect this team to continue to be a marker for success for years to come. Any given Sunday Pittsburgh has a chance to win a football game. Including the Super Bowl if they get back next season.
3. San Diego Chargers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
What can I say about my hometown team? Well, they're good but not great. Why aren't they great you might ask? Because of all of the amazing regular seasons that San Diego has put together in this decade alone, they have still not made it to the promise land.
Phillip Rivers, Norv Turner, and the city of San Diego believe this year is the year they're going to do it.
The marker for success, no slow starts in September and October. Regardless of if Vincent Jackson remains a Charger or not, the bolts have proven they can win ball games with or without him.
Gates deserves a ring...let's give it to him San Diego. Super Bowl bound a year from now: The San Diego Chargers.
2. New England Patriots
It was a bizarre year for New England who entered the year with Randy Moss, and ended the year with Danny Woodhead. The only thing that truly remained constant was the play by Brady. He managed to put up unbelievable numbers with two receivers at 5'9, and one at 5'8. How many quarterbacks could truly operate under that kind of offense?
Brady's a special player, but this year the Patriots were shell shocked in the divisional round of the playoffs against division rival New York.
Something tells me the Pats are coming back with a vengeance next year. The AFC East is going to be tough to win from the New England Patriots.
They're due for a Super Bowl. Not many teams are due for a Super Bowl, but that's the caliber of play New England has come to be known for under Belichick.
1. Green Bay Packers
Al Bello/Getty Images
What can you say about Green Bay? Aaron Rodgers. That's what you can say.
Rodgers followed through on his dream when he beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV and become the third Green Bay Packer at 27 years old to win the big game (Starr, Favre).
The Packers are the second youngest team in the NFL and won the Super Bowl with almost an entirely different starting lineup than they had at the beginning of the year. The only constant: Number 12.
A-Rod deserves everything he worked for leading up to an MVP performance where he threw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Now, with his favorite weapon back next year Jermichael Finley, you bet the Pack will be expecting nothing short of another shot at their own, Lombardi trophy.