Are you ready for some football?!?! A look at this year’s potential NFL division winners and Super Bowl favorites

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Five quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, and all could have an impact on their team’s success this season. From left to right: Chicago’s Justin Fields, San Francisco’s Trey Lance, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, New York Jets’ Zach Wilson, and New England’s Mac Jones.

During the NFL preseason, many players showed their potential for the regular season and how they can help their respective teams. The 2021 NFL draft saw five quarterbacks (QB) taken in the first round. The top three picks of the draft were quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson by the New York Jets, and Trey Lance by the San Francisco 49ers/ The Chicago Bears took Justin Fields with the 11th pick, and the New England Patriots took Mac Jones with the 15th pick. 

Each of these players has shown their potential in the preseason. With the start of the regular season tonight, the teams that have drafted these quarterbacks are hoping those picks can propel their respective teams to playoff contention. Wilson and Jones both looked strong in the preseason, while Lawrence, Lance, and Fields were somewhat inconsistent. 

The NFL preseason showed us that there are many teams with the potential to reach the postseason. Both the Miami Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa and the New York Giants’ QB Daniel Jones had mediocre 2020 seasons while occasionally showing flashes of brilliance. Both the Dolphins and the Giants have added weapons to their quarterbacks’ arsenals that should help them improve on their performances from last season.

The Dolphins used the sixth pick of the draft to take Tagovailoa’s former Alabama teammate and Tyreek Hillesque wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. With the number 42 pick, Miami added some protection for Tagovailoa in offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg. With the 81st pick, Miami added Eichenberg’s Notre Dame teammate tight end Hunter Long, who should serve as a valuable complement to the ever-improving Mike Gesicki. 

The Giants used the 20th pick of the draft to add flashy wide receiver Kadarius Toney from the Florida Gators and then signed free agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay, formerly of the Detroit Lions. Perhaps most importantly, the Giants’ explosive running back Saquon Barkley is on the mend after sitting out the majority of last season with a knee injury, and the Giants hope to have him back on the field early in the season if not for the season opener against the Denver Broncos.

Each of the eight divisions has teams that are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Cleveland Browns from the AFC North are predicted by many to win their division. The Browns have a strong receiving core with Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and gunslinging QB Baker Mayfield has shown he can get the ball to his dynamic duo. 

The AFC West crown favorite is once again the Kansas City Chiefs, as Patrick Mahomes has led their team to the Super Bowl twice in the past two years, winning it two seasons ago. The Tennessee Titans look to be the stronger team in the AFC South, Over the past few seasons, Titans running back (RB) Derrick Henry has shown his absolute strength and dominance. Receivers A.J. Brown and the newly acquired Julio Jones give the Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill a strong receiving corps. 

The Buffalo Bills look to be the strongest team in the AFC East and should take the division title for the second straight year after many seasons of losing records. QB Josh Allen, along with wide receiver Stefon Diggs helped the team to a 13-3 record in the regular season last year. While the Miami Dolphins could challenge, their schedule looks a little too tough.

The NFC West is a tough division to pick, but with the acquisition of QB Matt Stafford in a trade that sent former QB Matt Goff to the Detroit Lions, the Los Angeles Rams are getting plenty of love. The NFC North’s Green Bay Packers have the best chance to win their division. After flirting with retirement and a trade request, QB Aaron Rodgers will still lead Green Bay and will still have the talented Devante Adams at wide receiver and running back Aaron Jones.

Last year’s Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers should dominate the NFC South, if not the entire league. The ageless Tom Brady returns at quarterback with a corps of talented receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. Brady’s playing partner from his New England days and one of the best tight ends of all time Rob Gronkowski also returns to the Bucs. Tampa Bay, it should be noted, did not lose a single starter on offense or defense from last year’s championship team. 

If QB Dak Prescott returns to form from last season’s ankle injury, the Dallas Cowboys should take the NFC East division, but they will have to deal with the improving Washington Football Team and the Giants. To fend off those contenders, the Cowboys’ defense will have to play much better than they did last season.

The big question in NFL fans’ minds is which of these division favorites will end up winning the Super Bowl. With the Bucs thrashing the Chiefs 31-9 in last season’s Super Bowl LV, they proved their dominance in the NFL. We could very well see these same two teams battling it out for the crown in Los Angeles on February 13, 2022. 

Of the 12 Olympic Heights students asked, nine said they expected a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl but with the Chiefs winning it this time. Two other OH students picked the Bills to win it all, and one went with the Baltimore Ravens.

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