Who are the contenders to win Super Bowl LVII?
The NFL’s preseason is almost complete, with week four culminating on August 27th. Thus far, there have been some impressive wins from franchises like the New York Giants and the Las Vegas Raiders, whereas perennial favourites such as the Tampa Bay Buccanneers have struggled.
Tom Brady’s side have lost to both the Tennessee Titans and the Miami Dolphins in recent weeks, and while we can’t read too much into preseason performances, the Florida-based Bucs must up their game if they are to reach the heights expected of them this season.
The regular season’s curtain will be raised by the current holders of the Vincent Lombardi trophy, the Los Angeles Rams. They became the second franchise in a row to lift the trophy in their own stadium at Super Bowl LVI after a late touchdown in the fourth quarter from wide receiver Cooper Kupp secured a come from behind 23-20 at the SoFi stadium.
OddsChecker, which compares odds and provides offers on the NFL, has made the Rams one of the favourites for the Superbowl once again this season, although it remains to be seen whether they can become the first franchise to retain the trophy since the New England Patriots back in 2004 and 2005.
But it isn’t just Matthew Stafford’s Rams who are contenders for the greatest prize in American sport. Let’s take a look at the rest of the front-runners for the coveted prize.
The Buffalo Bills are one of just 12 franchises in the history of the NFL to have never won the Superbowl. They have lost four championship games, however, and tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the most losses in Superbowl history.
In fact, they lost four consecutive Superbowls between 1990-1993, losing to the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and the Dallas Cowboys twice. No other team has ever matched such an unwanted record and, to add insult to injury, the Bills haven’t played in the big game since.
The Bills languished in obscurity for the best part of two decades, but head coach Sean McDermott has built a winning machine since his appointment back in 2017. The likes of quarterback Josh Allen along with Von Miller, Stefon Diggs, Micah Hyde, and Jordan Poyer have all gone on to become world-beaters.
They have led the New York state-based franchise to three consecutive playoff appearances; however, each of them have ended in disappointment. Last season they were dumped out by a Patrick Mahomes-inspired Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. The year before, it was the Chiefs once again who had the antidote for the Bills’ brilliance. Before that, it was the lowly Houston Texans who sent them packing. But could it be different this year? The bookies certainly seem to think so.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Back in 2020, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended their 18-year wait for the Superbowl. They also ended the wait for a hometown Superbowl winner, ongoing since the creation of the big game back in 1967, when they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 at their home, the Raymond James Stadium. Led by the then 42-year-old GOAT Tom Brady, it seemed that a new dynasty atop the NFL was set to dominate the sport.
Before last season got underway, there were talks of the Bucs becoming the first team to end a regular season undefeated since the New England Patriots, who went 16-0 back in 2007 before losing the Superbowl to Eli Manning’s New York Giants. Those hopes were ended as early as game week three when the Rams defeated them 34-24 at the SoFi Stadium.
Despite that setback, Brady and co. recovered to end the regular season with a record of 13-4, topping their division in the process. But it was once again the Rams in the playoffs who ended their hopes of winning consecutive Superbowls, defeating the Bucs 30-27 on home soil.
This year, they are out for revenge. There were talks of the evergreen Brady retiring in the close season but, aged 44, he has decided he still has plenty left in the tank and he will lead out his side when their season gets underway on September 12th against the Dallas Cowboys.
In Brady and wide receiver Rob Gronkowski, the Bucs boast two of the greatest players to ever play the game, and it would take a brave man to bet against the Glazer family-owned franchise winning a second championship in three seasons.
Arizona Cardinals – Wildcard
Okay, we admit that this one is a bold pick. The Arizona Cardinals endured five barren seasons between 2016 and 2020, with many low points along the way, the lowest of which was a record of 3-13 back in 2018. But last season, the Cardinals improved no end. They ended the season with a record of 11-6, reaching the playoffs for the first time since they lost the NFC championship game to Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers back in 2015/16.
Admittedly their first playoff appearance in five years ended in disappointment, losing out to eventual champions the LA Rams by a score of 34-11 in the wildcard round. But there can be no denying the improvements that the Arizona-based franchise have made in recent seasons.
Another reason for us choosing the Cardinals as one of our potential winners of the Vincent Lombardi trophy next February is the fact that the championship game will be held in their home stadium, the 63,000-capacity State Farm Stadium.
It took 53 years for a franchise to win on home soil but, like clockwork, we then get two consecutive hometown winners in as many years. And there can be no denying that that hometown advantage was a deciding factor in the recent championship victories of the Bucs and the Rams. The Cardinals will be hoping that unwavering home support can take them all the way to their first Superbowl appearance since 2008 – when they lost out to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23 in Tampa Bay – and a first Superbowl victory in franchise history.