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The 2021 NFL season has seen 272 regular season games played and we are now just 13 playoff games away from Super Bowl LVI in just over a month.

If our Super Bowl betting market is a guide, we are headed towards a third straight appearance for the Kansas City Chiefs, this time against the Packers who have been installed as outright favourites.

Each of the other 12 teams will be looking to forge their own path to Los Angeles and we are going through every remaining club and working out why they can and cannot win the Lombardi Trophy.

AFC

1 – Tennessee Titans

Qualified As: AFC South Champions

Records: 12-5 H2H | 10-7 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $8.00

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

At full health, they were arguably the scariest team in the NFL and it looks like they are getting healthy once again.

All eyes will be on Derrick Henry who finished 9th in the rushing yardage on the season despite not playing since Week 8.

In 2019, he carried the Titans, then a wild card to the AFC Championship and the Titans offence is much more well rounded now.

They can win in multiple different ways and that is huge at this time of year.

On top of that, they have perhaps the biggest available advantage with a first round bye putting their magic number at three wins instead of the four for the rest of the conference.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

Can you really trust a running back coming off a broken foot whose first game action will be in a playoff game?

Depending on who their matchup in the Divisional Round is against, it could be a tough task for Henry to come out of the blocks in his previous 100+ yards per game form, assuming he is fully healthy.

Not to mention the quarterback, Ryan Tannehill is a serviceable starter more often than not and can win games but 14 interceptions to just 21 touchdowns is not exactly an encouraging ratio.

2 – Kansas City Chiefs

Qualified As: AFC West Champions

Records: 12-5 H2H | 8-9 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $5.00

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

They have been there and done it all before.

In Patrick Mahomes’ three previous playoff appearances he has lost an AFC Championship, won a Super Bowl and lost a Super Bowl.

To top it all off, Mahomes has become much more patient this year, learning to take the safer options instead of trying for the highlight reel throw on every drop back.

If they have to win four games with Mahomes handing off and throwing check downs, he will do it.

Add to that a defence that became a legitimate force and you can see why they are the shortest priced team in the AFC.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

Consistency has been an issue across the board for the Chiefs in the 2021 NFL season.

At the start of the year the defence was getting lit up and despite tightening up in the middle of the season, they have still shown some vulnerabilities.

Even their offence was struggling to move the ball at times during the season as opponents tried different strategies to slow them down.

Finally, their 0-3 record against the other division winners this season suggests that they are not head and shoulders above the rest of the competition like they were in previous seasons.

3 – Buffalo Bills

Qualified As: AFC East Champions

Records: 11-6 H2H | 10-7 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $9.00

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

There is a reason why they were a popular pick for the Super Bowl before the season and they have playmakers all over the field.

Josh Allen can produce a Superman type performance and carry this team through a game, and there is evidence as recently as Week 16 of him putting the team on his back and carrying them to victory.

They scored over 30 points nine times this year, six of which were on the road and went 8-1 in those games so if they have to travel to Kansas City and Tennessee, they can put up points.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

It’s the Buffalo Bills.

Ok there is a little bit more to it than that, however that is a more than valid line for the only team to lose four consecutive Super Bowls.

Let’s start with the fact Josh Allen is just as likely to throw four interceptions as he is to throw four touchdowns and he is basically the entire Bills offence.

The running game is suspect and their defence, especially against the run, can be taken advantage of.

Add in a coach that is capable of losing his mind and making a critical error while the red mist descends and you have the true definition of a boom or bust team.

4 – Cincinnati Bengals

Qualified As: AFC North Champions

Records: 10-7 H2H | 10-7 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $17

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

Just like the Bills, Cincinnati can match any team point for point and are not lacking for confidence thanks to second year quarterback Joe Burrow.

Two weeks ago, they stunned the Chiefs 34-31 on the back of a monster day from rookie of the year Ja’Marr Chase and will carry those memories into their first postseason game.

However long they are in the playoffs for, they will be fun to watch and will stand a puncher’s chance in every game.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

This is a very young team and there is every chance that the occasion of a playoff game may be too big for them.

While they have recorded some big wins this season, they have been on the wrong end of some big losses as well including a couple of blowout defeats to the LA Chargers and Cleveland.

If they buy into their own hype and think that getting to the stadium will be enough to guarantee a win, they could be in for a rude shock.

5 – Las Vegas Raiders

Qualified As: Wild Card

Records: 10-7 H2H | 9-8 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $51

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

If there was one team that would be playing out some sort of movie script in 2021, it is the Las Vegas Raiders.

They started off well, then lost a couple of games, which also saw their coach Jon Gruden leave the team after old emails of his were leaked.

In November their star receiver Henry Ruggs was released after he was involved in a fatal drunk driving crash.

Vegas went on to lose five of their next six and found themselves at 6-7 on the outside of the AFC playoff picture looking in.

With no margin for error they won their last four, starting with a postponed, Covid impacted game, had their former coach John Madden pass away just after Christmas and then concluded with the most epic regular season finale you will ever see.

The Raiders are more of a storyline bet instead of a smart bet but in this season, you really can’t rule anything out.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

As much fun as the Raiders storyline would be, it’s time to throw some cold water on that flame.

In two games against the Chiefs, they were destroyed by a combined score of 89-23.

They are relying on willpower more than skill and that is only going to get you so far at this time of year.

Plus it took such a monumental effort to get them into the playoffs, you are left to wonder how much they will have in the tank for their first game against Cincinnati.

6 – New England Patriots

Qualified As: Wild Card

Records: 10-7 H2H | 10-7 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $21

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

Can you ever really count out Bill Belichick in a playoff run?

Defensively they have been near lights out at times this season and if they show up ready to play, they will be able to keep New England in any game.

They have a narrow path to victory but they have shown the ability to play games on their terms and somewhat surprisingly, have been better on the road (6-2) than they were at home (4-5) so travelling won’t be an issue.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

Here’s the dirty little secret about this Patriots team, despite their reputation, despite their seven game winning streak, they really are not a top tier team.

Mac Jones has struggled down the stretch, their pass catching options are subpar and lacking a true difference maker and cannot make a play.

Defensively they have been superb when playing overmatched teams, but just look at what Buffalo, Indianapolis and most recently Miami did to them in the last month.

Just getting to the playoffs was a pass mark for the season for them, but they are at least one offseason away from competing with the NFL’s elite.

7 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Qualified As: Wild Card

Records: 9-7-1 H2H | 8-9 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $51

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

Just like New England, there is a very narrow path for the Steelers to follow every week and it is there for all to see.

Their defence, lead by TJ Watt, has been the catalyst for their success this season, keeping opponents at or under 20 points in eight of their nine wins this year.

Despite only playing in 15 of the 17 games, Watt was able to tie the single season sack record that Michael Strahan set in the early 2000’s.

He has the ability to take over a playoff game and make life tough on any quarterback, which in turn will keep the Steelers in the game.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

Ben Roethlisberger.

The guy has had a decorated on-field career but is now a very limited shell of his former self and is relying on a lot of help around him.

Add in a ground game that is averaging under four yards per carry and you have an offence that has to grind for every yard.

NFC

1 – Green Bay Packers

Qualified As: NFC North Champions

Records: 13-4 H2H | 12-5 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $4.50

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

Green Bay has been the best team in the league over the course of the entire season and are the deserved Super Bowl betting favourite.

Consider this, of their four defeats this season, one was a relocated Week 1 game in Jacksonville against New Orleans, another was in Week 9 when Aaron Rodgers was out with Covid and the final one was in Week 18 in Detroit when the starters only played for a half.

Only Minnesota in Week 11 was the straight up defeat and it is all laid out for Rodgers and the Packers to roll into SoFi Stadium.

Rodgers is going to be the NFL MVP for a second year running and with his favourite targets DaVante Adams and Aaron Jones getting some decent support from the rest of the crew, they can defeat any team in the playoffs.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

In each of the last two seasons, the Packers have made the NFC Championship only to lose in San Francisco and at home to Tampa Bay.

Looking further back, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have gone 8-8 in the postseason since winning Super Bowl XLV in Dallas.

The most likely stumbling block for Green Bay is in their own heads, if they remember their previous postseason failings then there is every chance they will fall on their face when it matters most.

But that’s asking for a lot.

2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Qualified As: NFC South Champions

Records: 13-4 H2H | 9-8 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $8.00

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

They did it last year as a wild card, so how will they go as the two seed?

It’s the time of the year Tom Brady lives for and he has won seven Super Bowls so far, it would take a brave soul to back against him here.

Add in a defence that is more than capable of holding its own in a game and you have a team that is going to be dangerous to face regardless of the ability of the opponent.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

The roster has been severely depleted with injuries and there are more holes in this team than there were 12 months ago.

On offence alone, Brady has lost Godwin to a knee injury and Antonio Brown to… Antonio Brown’s temperament, meaning he is relying on guys like Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman and Cyril Grayson to carry the load.

Defensively their secondary is severely undermanned and can be taken advantage of by a strong passing attack.

3 – Dallas Cowboys

Qualified As: NFC East Champions

Records: 12-5 H2H | 13-4 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $12

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

Dallas is as good as any team in the playoff field on their day and have the confidence of going head to head with Tampa Bay on opening night this season.

They have difference makers in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and more with Dak Prescott looking better than ever this season.

Combine that with a playmaking defence that can flip the field in short order and you have a team that can come from behind as well as protect a big lead.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

Just look at the playoff history of Mike McCarthy, he was in charge for some monumental collapses in Green Bay and Dallas does not have a decorated playoff history since the turn of the millennium.

We have seen plenty of dumb turnovers from Dallas’s offence and there is still that concern of how this team will perform on the big stage.

4 – Los Angeles Rams

Qualified As: NFC West Champions

Records: 12-5 H2H | 9-8 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $12

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

There is no team in the NFL with more superstar talent than the LA Rams, especially on defence with Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey among the best at their position, although Miller is not quite the player he was when he won Super Bowl 50 MVP.

Cooper Kupp won the receiving triple crown leading the league in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and is a nightmare for every defensive back to cover.

Oh and they just added veteran safety Eric Weddle who might just be able to pop up with an interception or two despite being retired since the end of the 2019 season.

When it is all rolling in LA, the Rams cannot be stopped.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

With that much talent you have to ask, how on earth did they only go 12-5 and wind up as the fourth seed?

Consistency, they have not put it all together anywhere near enough and still look like a bunch of superstars rather than a superstar team.

After trading for Matthew Stafford in the offseason, the former Lions signal caller has really struggled in the run home with just eight touchdowns and eight interceptions over the final four weeks.

Stafford is still the same guy we saw in Detroit for all of those years, he can light up a secondary or throw them the ball with alarming regularity and now you cannot help but worry what he may melt in a pile come gametime against Arizona.

5 – Arizona Cardinals

Qualified As: Wild Card

Records: 11-6 H2H | 10-7 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $21

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

For the first two months of the season, Arizona was the best team in the league, and it was not even close.

Kyler Murray was an MVP contender, James Conner was bulldozing defenders and the passing game was humming, all under the direction of coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Their 7-0 start was pretty much all on their offence going wild and averaging 32.14 points per game and if they can get rolling for a month, they will be in the mix.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

One of the big reasons that Cardinals offence was so dangerous was the presence of All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins who hurt his knee in Week 14.

Unfortunately for Kingsbury and Murray, Hopkins won’t be available this weekend or next and that really does limit their passing game when an aging AJ Green becomes your primary option.

However as the hits on Murray began to add up, his effectiveness dwindled to the point where he even missed a few games in the middle of the season, and he still does not look like he is back to his September self.

It also does not help that their rush defence has been gashed many times throughout the season and it puts a lot more pressure on that offence to produce quick strike scores when the opponent is dominating time of possession.

6 – San Francisco 49ers

Qualified As: Wild Card

Records: 10-7 H2H | 10-7 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $23

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

Two years ago this team was six and a half minutes away from winning the Super Bowl and after a year from hell with injuries, they are arguably the best Wild Card team in either conference.

After starting at 3-5, they have found a winning formular and finished with a 7-2 run including a final day win in Los Angeles.

Offensive weapon Deebo Samuel can do it all, officially listed as a receiver he tallied 77 catches for 1405 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games, an impressive effort on its own.

What makes it even more stunning is the fact he became a legitimate weapon as a part time running back as well, registering 59 carries for 365 yards and another eight touchdowns.

Oh and he can throw the ball in a pinch too.

Defensively they have a difference maker in Nick Bosa and his 15.5 sacks in 2021, and he sets the platform for some playmakers behind him including Fred Warner and Jimmie Ward.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

It’s an insanely tough position to be in for the 49ers and a by-product of playing in a division that sent three teams to the NFC Playoffs.

In all likelihood they will have to win in Dallas, in Tampa Bay and in Green Bay in that order to reach the Super Bowl and I just cannot see them knocking off those very good teams in succession.

Plus Kyle Shanahan’s late game management is always a cause for concern, with two of the most famous collapses in Super Bowl history occurring on his watch.

The talent is there for the 49ers, but it’s a tough path to follow as the NFC’s sixth seed.

7 – Philadelphia Eagles

Qualified As: Wild Card

Records: 8-9 H2H | 9-8 ATS

Super Bowl Odds: $51

Why They Can Win the Super Bowl

Depending on when you watched the Eagles this season, you could be stunned that they are only the 7th seed or stunned that they were even the seventh seed.

Three games stand out in terms of establishing their legitimacy as a playoff team and it all came after first year head coach Nick Sirianni went all in on their running game.

In Week 8 they blew out a scrappy Detroit Lions side 44-6 with 236 yards on the ground, the first of four games where they recorded over 200 yards on the ground, all of which were wins.

When their passing game works it’s not too bad either, even if it goes off script from time to time.

It is not the most complex strategy and one that does not offer a whole lot of margin for error but that is going to be how they have any success this postseason.

Add in a fresh defensive line that took last week off, that is how they will keep themselves in the game on that side of the ball.

Why They Won’t Win the Super Bowl

If the last section was not obvious enough, there is little to no optimism about the Eagles.

Just like San Francisco they will have to do it the hard way and there is a very clear line of delineation between their good defensive performances and their bad defensive performances.

When they gave up more than 18 points, their record was 1-6 and when keeping opponents to 18 or fewer points it was 8-2.

Good luck keeping Tom Brady and the Buccaneers under 18 points.