Why all 32 NFL teams could – and why they won’t – win Super Bowl LV

There's nothing quite like the optimism of a fresh NFL season. Thirty-two teams all starting on an equal plane, with one goal in sight. 

Perhaps more than any of the major American sports leagues, the NFL offers the most parity, where a team no one was counting on can rise to the top of their division and get into the playoffs. Just look at the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 season, on their way to a title in Super Bowl LII.

Here's one reason why each of the league's 32 teams will – and won't – win Super Bowl LV in Tampa on Feb. 7.

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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports)

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

The Bills could win the Super Bowl if quarterback Josh Allen takes a massive leap as a passer, continues his threat as a rusher and the defense remains dominant, and builds off of its second-best 16.2 points a game allowed last season.

The Bills won't win the Super Bowl if Allen regresses, if additions (receiver Stefon Diggs, cornerback Josh Norman and defensive linemen Mario Addison and Vernon Butler) don't produce, and if that defense doesn't shut down opponents.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins could win the Super Bowl if Fitzmagic gives way to an all-time rookie performance by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, if receivers like Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker become stars, and free-agent addition Byron Jones becomes a shutdown corner and elevates an already-talented secondary.

The Dolphins won't make the Super Bowl if this roster is still a few years from being legitimate contenders in the AFC, Tagovailoa needs time to assimilate into the NFL, and the defense doesn't improve from its league-worst 30.9 points allowed per game.

New England Patriots

The Patriots could win the Super Bowl if Cam Newton returns to his 2015 NFL MVP form, the team doesn't miss opt-outs (linebacker Dont'a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung and right tackle Marcus Cannon) too much, and the defense builds on last year's production.

The Patriots won't win the Super Bowl if offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels struggles to craft a system that fits Newton's unique skill set, lack of depth at wide receiver zaps the passing game, and the offense can't become a dominant rushing outfit.

New York Jets

The Jets could win the Super Bowl if quarterback Sam Darnold ascends to become one of the top young passers in the league, running back Le'Veon Bell's production mirrors what it was in his best seasons in Pittsburgh, and the offense sees a near-miracle turnaround in key metrics that ranked among the league's worst last season.

The Jets won't win the Super Bowl if the roster can't overcome significant holes at receiver and edge rusher, the offensive line continues to yield far too much pressure (New York ranked 30th, allowing sacks on almost one out of every 10 pass attempts), and a lack of star talent dooms the team.

AFC NORTH

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals could win the Super Bowl if rookie quarterback Joe Burrow picks up where he left off in terms of the ultra-efficiency he had at LSU, they score double the points they did last season (17.4 a game), and the defense stops giving up explosive plays.

The Bengals won't win the Super Bowl if Burrow has even an average season, and free-agency acquisitions like cornerback Trae Waynes (who is on IR with a torn pectoral, but could return for the second half of the season), safety Vonn Bell and defensive tackle D.J. Reader don't drastically improve a defense that ranked worst in the league in yards per play allowed (6.09).

Cleveland Browns

The Browns could win the Super Bowl if new coach Kevin Stefanski is exactly what quarterback Baker Mayfield and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. need to blossom into one of the top QB-WR duos in the league, and a fairly talented roster lives up to the hype that it drew last offseason.

The Browns won't win the Super Bowl unless Mayfield is elite, the defense doesn't do a better job of clamping offenses in the red zone, and they don't finish on the opposite end of the turnover margin (-8 in 2019, ranked 26th) scale.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens could win the Super Bowl if quarterback Lamar Jackson doesn't drop off, newly acquired rusher Calais Campbell bolsters a pass rush that ranked 21st in the NFL with 37 sacks, and the rushing offense remains as productive as it was last year.

The Ravens won't win the Super Bowl if Jackson regresses or gets hurt, and the team's loss against the Titans in the divisional round of last year's playoffs proves to be an indicator of problems in stopping the run after Derrick Henry dominated with 195 yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers could win the Super Bowl if quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns to form after missing last season with a throwing elbow injury, they capitalize on their trips inside the 20 (Pittsburgh ranked last in red zone efficiency at 35%), and linebacker T.J. Watt wins defensive player of the year on a revitalized unit.

The Steelers won't win the Super Bowl if Roethlisberger doesn't play at previous levels, receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn't have a monster bounce-back season, and the team doesn't fix its third-down struggles (converting just 34.36% of attempts).

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