Yesterday we took a look at teams that need to win the Super Bowl in the very near future, or it won’t happen at all. As those teams’ Super Bowl window closes, a handful of other teams are just coming into their own, and those are the teams I’d like to focus on today.
The Bengals’ rise in the AFC North may coincide almost perfectly with the fall of both the Ravens and Steelers. While I don’t expect either of the Bengals’ division rivals to fall to the bottom of the NFL barrel, I do expect a fall off on their part in the next couple of years. Combine their fall with the Bengals youth movement and the drafting of their franchise quarterback, Andy Dalton, and you have a scenario suited almost perfectly for the Bengals to win their division consistently over the next five years.
When you don’t have a window, make one. That seems to be the mindset of John Elway. The Broncos weren’t going to win a championship with Tim Tebow leading their team. He was a gadget quarterback, and to maintain long term success, Elway knew he had to bring in a true passer. Bringing in Peyton Manning essentially forced the Broncos’ Super Bowl window wide open. If Manning can get back to 80% of his former self, the Broncos could be the best team in the league.
The Lions may be one of the saddest franchises since the merger, but they’re trying to make up for lost time. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the game, and Matthew Stafford should be considered one of the best gunslingers out there. The Lions’ major concern rests in their secondary. If they can find a patch that at least slows their opponents down, the Lions will be difficult to stop. They’re a better team than the Bears, and they should give Green Bay a run for the divisional title this year.
Last year, the Texans finally broke through with an AFC South title. Their situation is perfect. The Colts are one of the worst teams in the league, the Jaguars are trying to develop a poor quarterback, and the Titans are average on the best of days. The Texans should have no problem dominating the AFC South over the next few seasons. If Matt Schaub can stay healthy, the Texans are one of the best teams in the AFC South. They combine an explosive offense with a dominant defense. They just might be my pick to represent the AFC in next February’s Super Bowl.