As we turn the page on one NFL season, it’s never too early to start thinking about the next. As usual, it seems far from impossible to see a repeat of Super Bowl 55, even if that’s a rare occurrence. There’s also a long offseason ahead and who knows how teams will change between now and next September. Nevertheless, it’s time for an early look at the five leading contenders to win Super Bowl 56.
No, we haven’t gone back 30 years in a time machine, the Bills are actually Super Bowl contenders heading into the 2021 season. Barring a sharp decline in Josh Allen’s performance from the 2020 season, Buffalo will be one of the elite teams in the AFC after reaching the AFC Championship Game.
If the Bills can find a way to get their defense back to the level it was at in 2019, they could be something special next season.
While it hasn’t necessarily worked in the playoffs, the Ravens have found a formula for winning with Lamar Jackson and a strong rushing attack. Jackson isn’t going anywhere and the Baltimore defense is also in good shape.
The key for the Ravens will be getting better at wide receiver because Jackson can be a threat throwing the ball down the field, but only if he has the receivers who can help.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If he can win a Super Bowl at age 43, what’s stopping Tom Brady from winning one at age 44? Unlike Drew Brees, we’ve yet to see age cause a noticeable decline in Brady’s performance. With the supporting cast around him in Tampa, Brady was better in 2020 than in his last couple of seasons in New England.
Keep in mind that Bruce Arians is a good coach and the Bucs have some young and talented players on defense who could help them be even better on that side of the ball in 2021.
Green Bay Packers
As long as Aaron Rodgers is around, the Packers should be looked at as the team to beat in the NFC. Yes, they’ve lost in the NFC Championship Game in back-to-back years. But they’ve also finished 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game in back-to-back years. Outside of Brady and the Bucs, there’s clearly a gap between the Packers and the rest of the NFC.
The key for Green Bay is improving the fringes of the team and trying to keep Rodgers happy because the NFL’s MVP in 2020 still makes the Packers a championship contender.
Kansas City Chiefs
For the time being, let’s just assume that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are the team to beat in the AFC. Kansas City didn’t play well in Super Bowl 55, but that does little to change their chances of winning Super Bowl 56.
Mahomes and company will undoubtedly form one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses in 2021, and if they can use their draft picks and a little money to improve defensively, nobody will be surprised to see the Chiefs playing in Super Bowl 56.