As soon as Super Bowl 2013 finished, talk was already in the air about what teams were most likely to make it to the 2014 competition. This is a list of the top ten teams that stand the best chance of making to the 2014 and includes, in order of first to last, the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens, the Denver Broncos, the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, the Houston Texans, the Seattle Seahawks, the New York Giants, the New Orleans Saints, and the Indianapolis Colts.
First up- the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, they did not win this year, but they made it this far and have to be considered to be a top contender for Super Bowl 2014 without a doubt. The biggest thing going for the San Francisco 49ers is that they are not losing a big chunk of their major starters or players. Simply put, the 2014 team is going to resemble the 2013 pretty substantially, and only the loss of some players like Dashon Goldson and a few others is likely to impact the team’s performance.
1. However, the question on everyone’s mind is going to be the extent to which the 49ers can retain a substantial emphasis on aggressive, offensive line. It is guaranteed to be the biggest problem facing the team if they find themselves unable to compete on the same level of offense as they could in 2013. Thankfully, rookie Kaepernick ranks as one of the most likely candidates to get MVP of the year in 2014, and is easily one of best quarterback’s around. Once the boy gets more experience, the 49ers stand the best chance at taking on 2014 and coming out on top.
2. Looking to find out who will win Super Bowl 2014? The Denver Broncos rank right up there in the realm of teams likely to come out on top in 2014. It is no lie to say the Broncos had a rough start in the 2012 season, but they rallied substantially and if they had not experienced a gaping hole in their defensive structure, you can bet money they would have stood a good chance at winning the AF Championship and taking on the Super Bowl…maybe even winning. The Broncos are a solid team without major flaws, and if they fix their defensive holes, 2014 is right around the corner.
3. In third place, the New England Patriots clock in as a great choice. While they do not have the depth and strength of the 49ers or the power of the Broncos, the Patriots are setting up to lose Wes Welker, Volmer, and Talib to free agent status. Losing them would be a loss, to be sure, but it’s unlikely that the Patriots will let these players leave all at once. Even better, Tom Brady and the classic horde of Patriot defensive linemen are not going anywhere. Head Coach Belichick isn’t about to lose his best players, and to not include the Patriots as a solid contender for Super Bowl 2014 would be denying the fact that the Patriots retrain a great, all-around team.
4. If there is one team that helped showcase Kaepernick's skills as the 49ers new quarterback, the Green Bay Packers are it. Despite the number of injuries that have plagued the Packers in recent years, the Packers also suffer from lack of a good field goal special team. Crosby clocked in a questionable 64% field goal accuracy percentage in 2012, something that the Packers can ill afford to have as a wildcard when so many of their games come down to the wire. Indeed, three of the games lost were lost by a margin of points that, if a field goal had been made, would have won the game. The Packers desperately need to plug this gaping hole in their play, even though they have a largely solid team otherwise. While not the number one pick, the Packers are nonetheless a top contender to win Super Bowl 2014, so long as they stay healthy as a team and try to pick up some more players that can help alleviate the major weakness in their play.
5. It might seem a bit low (or high to some), but at number five sits the Baltimore Ravens, reigning champions and Super Bowl victors. Despite crushing their way through the 2012-2013 season, it’s pretty clear that the Ravens are not about to have such an easier time in 2014. Not only are Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, and star player Joe Flacco moving to free agent status, the retirement of Ray Lewis is guaranteed to be a huge negative impact on the team’s performance. We have to credit the Ravens and Head Coach Harbaugh for constructing an amazing team, but to rank them any higher would be dishonest. The Ravens are going to sit at number five, but remember to give them the respect they deserve. Who knows? 2014 can surprise us all.
6. The Houston Texans, by all rights, probably should have won the Super Bowl in 2013, or at least placed a lot higher. They easily had the most complete team in terms of overall offense and defense, but they lacked the depth necessary to guarantee a competitive stance later on in the season, especially when injuries start accumulating. Houston doesn’t excel at anything, though their offense is perhaps the best in the league, and they are overall a strong team that has no glaring flaws. Look out for them in 2014, because the Houston Texans have a good chance at stealing a high place, if not a championship, in 2014. On a side note, watch out for J.J. Watt. Houston’s defensive end is guaranteed to be one of the best in the league in the coming seasons.
7. At number seven, the New Orleans Saints offer one of the league’s best offensive lines, but one that is severely hampered by the weakness of its defensive setup. With Sean Payton and Drew Brees back together, it is likely that if the Saints can set up even a somewhat better defense, it can once again become a highly competitive team on the NFL scene. All it would take would be a strong defensive line that can operate independently of its offensive counterparty. If they can do that, the Saints would definitely reclaim their position as one of the top teams in the NFL, even if not Super Bowl 2014 worthy as of now.
8. Some will say the Seahawks belong higher, but for now, number eight is a competitive spot for them. Russell Wilson is a beast, to be sure, but he’s lacking that particular spirit and sense of drive that could catapult the Seahawks to a championship in 2014. The Seahawks do not have any major weaknesses in their play, even if they defense might be a little sparse at times and their offensive line could use another heavy-hitter. Regardless, the Seahawks are famous for their incredibly well-rounded offensive and defensive teams, and it’s pretty clear that they are a championship contender if they could just overcome whatever blocks are preventing them from killing the competition.
9. If there’s one team that disappointed everyone, it would be the New York Giants. The Giants fell apart considerably in the 2012 season, but there’s no indication that they will repeat that in the new season. Still, with Eli Manning spearheading the team as the starter quarterback, the Giants are guaranteed to remain competitive. Manning has won MVP twice in his career, and has rings from Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots. In fact, the latter game against New England is famous in how it showcases Manning’s intelligent play. Even though Bradshaw ended up scoring a touchdown, which disrupted the Giant’s play to run the clock out and score a winning field goal from their star kicked at under 30 yards, the Giants still grinded out a win under Manning’s leadership. While we should not say that the Giants are intrinsically tied to Manning, without him, it remains pretty likely that the Giants will not receive much success in the coming seasons. Regardless, Manning is not going anywhere, and the Giants stand a chance at knocking out another Super Bowl ring in 2014.
10. The number ten spot goes to the Indianapolis Colts. Led by Andrew Luck, the Colts are not a particularly skilled team in the sense of the depth or strength of their lineups like the Broncos or 49ers, but they are good at drafting good players that have potential to grow and expand as athletes. We do not see the Colts winning 2014 by any means, barring a massive upset, but it stands to reason that if they get a good draft this year, they can put together a star team to dominate 2015. Becoming a true Super Bowl contender in 2014 might be a stretch with their current lineup, but the chances of getting a good offseason and becoming a strong contender when the season kicks back up again is not out of the picture.