Posted on February 13, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The New England Patriots have been getting it done like no other team for many years now. They’ve been to three of the last six Super Bowls, won two, and had a shot to go to the other three. As much as The New England Patriots are the picture of excellence. They are what most franchises want to be when they grow up.
They are winners, and just days after winning their latest Super Bowl, they are preparing for the next one. Now that they have a ring on each finger, it’s time to start working on the other hand, or as the latest phrase they are trying to trademark says—it’s time for the “Blitz for Six.”
For most teams, the move would be chalked up as nothing more than bravado, but with the track record the Patriots have compiled, fans know it is a lot more than that. Somehow, they always end up fielding a contender. It doesn’t matter how many guys they lose in free agency or who they add—they still win.
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So–fans can rest assured that the New England Patriots will contend for No. 6. The question is—who’s going to stop them?
There are the obvious contenders—Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, and Seattle Seahawks. But all five have a fatal flaw (or two) that must be addressed for them to truly compete for Super Bowl glory.
- Dallas (9/1) needs a pass rush. Without one, they may be able to win if they can grind out a couple hundred yards on the ground and control the clock for 40 minutes. But that is easier said than done.
- Green Bay (9/1) needs a defense and a running game. Aaron Rodgers can only do so much. It’s a miracle they made it as far as they did last season.
- Pittsburgh’s (12/1) defense is green and offense inconsistent if Le’Veon Bell is injured.
- The Super Bowl loser (Atlanta Falcons; 14/1) rarely returns to the big game the following season. Losing Kyle Shanahan is bound to have an impact, and it remains to be seen if Steve Sarkisian can get the job done in the NFL.
- Seattle (16/1) needs and offensive line and a running game they can count on.
But who could surprise the football-loving free world and become a legitimate contender? It’s more fun at this time of year to imagine who could come out of the woodwork and contend. So–what teams (if any) could surprise us by rising up and challenging for the crown? There are a few:
- Houston Texans (40/1): calling the Texans a potential contender should not be a surprise. They’ve been considered a quarterback away from being one for years and still are. The question now is whether they will solve their quarterback conundrum by next season. If they do—Houston could be the team. If they don’t—it will be another disappointing year for Texans fans.
- New York Giants (25/1): their defense was fantastic last season, but the offense was terrible. They can’t run the ball to save their lives which makes it tougher to pass since opponents know they don’t need to fear the run. A great defense can do the trick but not if the offense is one-dimensional.
- Arizona Cardinals (33/1): the offense was too inconsistent last season, but the defense was still one of the top units in the NFL. Bruce Arians is probably going to try to use David Johnson for all he’s worth on offense next season—as he should after the year he had. If Johnson can live up to expectations and the defense doesn’t miss a step, the Cardinals could be tough to beat.
An argument could be made for the Minnesota Vikings (16/1) should Adrian Peterson come back and be as good as he was in 2015. Denver’s (16/1) defense will make them fun to watch, but without better quarterback play and a running back they may not make the playoffs. The Raiders (16/1) were a popular choice this past season until Derek Carr was injured, but their defense needs some serious work before it can hang with the Patriots.
Other teams could be in the discussion as well, but only if they can correct several deficiencies. It’s possible—heck until the season started last year people believed the Jacksonville Jaguars had potential. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter who does it. Someone needs to beat New England.
The NFL is much more interesting when the same team isn’t winning all the time.