As we near the start of preseason matchups, below are my top three teams who I think will be serious contenders for the SuperBowl in 2019.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars were inches away from making the SuperBowl last season. They narrowly won against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, 24-20. Blake Bortles proved he could take the Jaguars deep into the playoffs, finishing as the fourth-best passing leader in the postseason. In addition, the number two defense was monstrous last season. With the recent FA pickups and draft selections discussed in my previous article: Jacksonville Jaguars: The Return of Tradition, I strongly believe the Jaguars have found the missing pieces in order to make their first SuperBowl appearance.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Sean McVay took the Rams to the playoffs for the first time since 2004, earning coach of the year as a result. The Rams had a very busy offseason this year negotiating multiple trades. They received cornerback Aqib Talib from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 2018 fifth-round pick. The five-time Pro Bowler reunites with former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
Furthermore, the LA Rams also received Pro Bowl cornerback, Marcus Peters, from the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas received a 2018 fourth-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick in exchange for Peters and a 2018 sixth-round pick. Marcus Peters had made two Pro Bowl appearances in 2015 and 2016.
Wide receiver, Brandin Cooks was traded by the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2018 first-round pick and a sixth-round pick. Cooks has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the past three seasons and replaces Sammy Watkins who signed with the Chiefs earlier this offseason. Los Angeles also decided to sign former Miami Dolphin defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, to a one year deal worth $14 million.
Suh has made a total of five Pro Bowl appearances. An Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh combo on the defensive line could prove lethal, although Suh has become a controversial player during his time in the NFL.
It will be important for Suh to not draw any negative attention towards him whilst he is on a one-year deal with the Rams. At the end of the 2017 season, the LA Rams had the 10th best offense and the 19th best defense. The 19th place may not look glamorous, but it was to be expected.
When Wade Phillips took over the defensive coordinator position last season, the defense transitioned from a 4-3 to a 3-4. One can only speculate that defensive improvements will be evident now that the team will be going into their second season using a 3-4 defensive scheme. With that being said, the Rams added three Pro Bowler’s to their squad and are favorable candidates to appear in SuperBowl LIII.
3. New Orlean Saints
Initially, I was tempted to throw in a curveball and say Detroit Lions just to provide some controversy. Given the Lions track record, history has not been on their side. Nonetheless, I see future promise for the organization with new head coach, Matt Patricia, the New England Patriots former defensive coordinator. We will have to wait until the end of the 2018 season before the Lions make my top three.
The infamous final play of the 2017 NFC Divisional Round against the Minnesota Vikings left Saints fans heartbroken as they painfully watched Stephon Diggs make his way to the end zone.
I think it is safe to say that the Saints and safety Marcus Williams have learned their lesson. New Orleans finished the season with the second-best offense, accumulating 4189 passing yards and 2070 rushing yards (the fifth best in these categories). Both the 2017 offensive and defensive rookie of the year were awarded to running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore. I think that the New Orlean Saints will come back stronger going into the 2018 season. Quarterback, Drew Brees, will be looking to get his second SuperBowl ring.
I am sure many are wondering why the New England Patriots haven’t made my list, or even recent SuperBowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. Would that not be too obvious? I am skeptical about the Eagles primarily because of quarterback Carson Wentz’s ACL and LCL injury, which ended his 2017 season. Although like the Lions, I think they are more than capable of making the playoffs next season.
Those are my top three. Who do you think will lift the Lombardi trophy? What SuperBowl matchup are you predicting?
(Photo Source 1: nj.com)
(Photo Source 2: ramswire.com)
(Photo Source 3: nola.com)
(Cover Photo Source: hopeforhenry.org)
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