Bill Barnwell, ESPN Staff Writer 43d

Super Bowl 56: The case for all 32 NFL teams to win a title in 2022, from the Texans to the Chiefs and Bucs

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The vast majority of NFL previews attempt to predict what is most likely to happen in the upcoming season. I suspect you've read about 40 or 50 of them by now. Every year, just before the season begins, I like to drop a slightly different look at what's to come. Today, I'm going to give you an explanation of how each and every team in the NFL is capable of winning Super Bowl LVI.

Obviously, these teams don't have an equal chance of celebrating in Los Angeles next February. According to ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI), the four top Super Bowl contenders on paper have nearly a 50% chance of winning the Vince  Lombardi Trophy. The Bucs had a 3.8% shot of winning the title last season, when I wrote this:

"The Bucs are closer to a Super Bowl than you might think, in part because their defense is probably better than you pictured it after last season. Tampa Bay ranked 29th in scoring defense, but that was mostly a product of Jameis Winston and the offense. After you strip out his seven pick-sixes and account for the fact that Todd Bowles' defense faced a league-high 189 drives and inherited the league's worst average starting field position, Tampa Bay's sixth-place finish in defensive DVOA makes more sense. Those issues are unlikely to recur with turnover-averse Tom Brady as the Bucs' new quarterback."

Suggesting that Brady could win a Super Bowl doesn't exactly qualify as insightful analysis, but the Bucs were a lot closer on the defensive side of the ball than it might have seemed by traditional measures of performance. For each of these 32 teams, I'll try to use the evidence we have about their performance and comparable situations from history to try to tease out a scenario in which they could be capable of winning an NFL championship. I'll start with the teams FPI believes have the lowest chances to win the title and count down to the No. 1 team:

Jump to a team:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

32. Houston Texans

Chance to win Super Bowl LVI: Less than 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 3.6%

Would the Texans be the most unlikely Super Bowl winners ever? I actually don't think so. The 2021 Texans are coming off a 4-12 season and don't appear likely to have quarterback Deshaun Watson -- who's facing 22 active lawsuits with allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior -- for the season. The 1999 Rams were coming off of a 4-12 season and lost starting quarterback Trent Green to a season-ending knee injury in training camp. Houston is turning things over to a quarterback in Tyrod Taylor who has a track record of competence in the past, while the Rams were forced to insert 28-year-old backup Kurt Warner, who had 11 career regular-season pass attempts.

Well, you know what happened next for Warner and those Rams. I don't think Taylor is about to win league MVP, but the Texans have a better roster than people might give them credit for after general manager Nick Caserio spent the offseason signing literally dozens of veterans to one- and two-year deals. Thirty-one of the 53 players who made the Houston roster out of camp were not on the roster a year ago, and many of those players are veterans with meaningful NFL experience.

The Texans don't realistically have the upside to compete for a Super Bowl -- and I have no idea what their long-term vision looks like -- but they have a plausible path to looking competent. If they stumble onto a Hall of Fame quarterback along the way, they've got a shot.


31. New York Jets

Chance to win Super Bowl LVI: Less than 0.1%
Chance to make the playoffs: 8.8%

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