10 Nonchampion Teams That May Be Super Bowl LIX Contenders

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It’s a tough time to be a Buffalo Bills fan after they endured another heartbreaking playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs because of a field goal attempt going wide right.

I’m not sure whether I believe in curses, but there was a poor Bills fan forced to hear Taylor Swift songs from a jukebox while he buried his face into a bar counter. Swift and her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, on the other hand, are moving on to the AFC title game as the Chiefs prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Stadium.

But don’t worry, Bills fans. There will likely be another shot next season to advance to the Super Bowl because of the many promising players surrounding Josh Allen. The same can be said for the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans, two teams that also lost during the divisional round.

With the NFL playoffs down to four teams, we decided to look at the 10 nonchampionship teams that have the best odds of playing in the Super Bowl in 2025. That’s right, tortured Bills fan from the bar. Swift and the Chiefs won’t be mentioned after this sentence. Neither will the San Francisco 49ers or Detroit Lions, the two teams battling for the NFC title Sunday.

Some fan bases won’t like this list because a few playoff teams were left off, even one that played in a divisional game this past weekend. Let’s remember: The NFL always has a handful of new teams make the postseason.

Here’s our list of 10 nonchampionship teams closest to advancing to Super Bowl LIX in New Orleans.

10. Indianapolis Colts

2023–24 season: 9–8, third place, NFC South, lost in wild-card round

Why they could make the Super Bowl in ’25: Some might be asking why the Colts and not the Jacksonville Jaguars? Coaching makes a huge difference, and Shane Steichen helped many players produce career years during his first year with the Colts. Yes, Doug Pederson is a Super Bowl–winning head coach and had success in ’22 with the Jaguars. But Jacksonville was a mess this past season, and Pederson needs to revamp his coaching staff and methods. Steichen had the Colts one win away from the postseason even without rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who played only four games in ’23 due to injuries. If Richardson stays healthy, the Colts could be very dangerous this upcoming season.

9. Seattle Seahawks

2023–24 season: 9–8, third place, NFC West

Why they could make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Seahawks disappointed last season, and they don’t even have injuries to blame as most of their key starters finished the ’23 regular season. Seattle appeared to instead point the blame at coaching when it fired Pete Carroll as the head coach and forced the 72-year-old into a front-office role. It’s tough picturing the Seahawks doing better without Carroll, but perhaps a younger coach with different philosophies can turn the star-studded roster into a contender in ’24. The Seahawks also have a dilemma with quarterback Geno Smith, who regressed after a breakout ’22 season. If they make an upgrade at quarterback, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Seahawks back in the postseason.

Love and the Packers shined in a surprise run to the divisional round.

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

8. Green Bay Packers

2023–24 season: 9–8, second place, NFC North

Why they could make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Packers took the seventh seed from the Seahawks thanks to a second-half surge and the emergence of quarterback Jordan Love, who was one of the best in the league the past two months. Love is on the cusp of becoming the next star quarterback in the NFL and has many weapons around him, including wide receivers Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks, plus tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. The offense was a year ahead this past season. But the Packers need to have more consistency on the defensive side. Also, Love will need to cut down his mistakes in late-game situations, evident by his interception in the playoff loss against the 49ers.

7. Los Angeles Rams

2023–24 season: 10–7, second place, NFC West, lost in wild-card round

Why they could make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Rams had a similar second-half rise this season, but they did it with veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford and his many young weapons. Rookie sensation Puka Nacua quickly established himself as one of the best wide receivers in the league and took over the No. 1 role from Cooper Kupp. But the Rams’ dynamic offense went through second-year running back Kyren Williams, who will need to prove he can stay healthy for a complete season. Aaron Donald will probably be back next year to continue leading the defense, which benefited from stellar play by rookies Kobie Turner and Byron Young. But the Rams will need to add more talent for a secondary that struggled at times.

6. Miami Dolphins

2023–24 season: 11–6, second place, AFC East, lost in wild-card round

Why they could make the Super Bowl in ’25: Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel guided his team to back-to-back playoff appearances, proving he can keep his team in postseason contention on an annual basis. But being a Super Bowl contender is a different story. The Dolphins were largely seen as pretenders because they struggle against teams with winning records, and their schemes don’t do well vs. physical teams. If McDaniel is able to make adjustments, the Dolphins could be serious threats in the AFC, especially if the defense (with a core group that includes edge rushers Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips, Jalen Ramsey and Christian Wilkins) stays healthy. The team also needs to decide whether to pay Tua Tagovailoa, who struggled in crunch time.

McCarthy has guided Dallas to 12 wins in each of the past three seasons, though has not made it past the divisional round.

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

5. Dallas Cowboys

2023–24 season: 12–5, first place, NFC East, lost in wild-card round

Why they could make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Cowboys have long been called pretenders because of their many years of postseason disappointment. This time, they were crushed by the Packers at home during the wild-card round. And team owner Jerry Jones decided to run it back with coach Mike McCarthy. It’s tough seeing this stacked roster going further than the divisional round next season, but this story isn’t about legit Super Bowl contenders. The Cowboys always give themselves the best odds to advance, but it does them no good when the playoffs roll around, at least not in the past three decades. Many will yawn if the Cowboys win the NFC East and deliver another 12 wins in the regular season. Dak Prescott & Co. need to prove it in the playoffs.

4. Houston Texans

2023–24 season: 10–7, first place, AFC South, lost in divisional round

Why they can make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Texans have a bright future for many reasons other than rookie sensation C.J. Stroud. They’re set at the premium positions because they have two productive wide receivers (Nico Collins, Tank Dell) and two dominant edge rushers (Will Anderson Jr. and Jonathan Greenard, a pending free agent). Houston also has a star in the making with cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., and it’s set at offensive tackle with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard. And we can’t forget the sensational job DeMeco Ryans did in his first season as the coach. But the Texans wouldn’t be ranked this high without Stroud, who might already be as good as the three starting quarterbacks listed below.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

2023 season: 11–6, second place, NFC East, lost in wild-card round

Why they can make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Eagles were a disaster down the stretch for multiple reasons, including poor coaching from Nick Sirianni & Co. But Sirianni will likely be back in ’24 with a revamped coaching staff and hopes of returning to the Super Bowl. (He also deserves the benefit of the doubt for guiding his team to three consecutive playoff appearances and an NFC title, which is a lot more than anything the Cowboys have done in recent memory.) With Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown, the Eagles should be fine offensively. But they have a lengthy list of issues on defense, especially in the secondary and at linebacker. Plus, the Tush Push might no longer be a weapon for the Eagles if center Jason Kelce decides to retire.

For the third time in four years, Allen and the Bills were knocked out of the playoffs by the Chiefs.

Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports

2. Buffalo Bills

2023–24 season: 11–6, first place, AFC East, lost in divisional round

Why they can make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Bills aren’t quite seen as pretenders like the Dolphins and Cowboys, but they had another early postseason exit this year—and still haven’t gone to the Super Bowl in the Josh Allen era. But Buffalo is in a good spot because of the draft hits from GM Brandon Beane. With Allen’s contract eating most of the salary cap, the Bills hit on running back James Cook, tight end Dalton Kincaid and wide receiver Khalil Shakir. Many young defensive players also showed improvement, and the unit should have a bounce-back season with a more healthy roster. But Buffalo could still look to move a few contracts, including Stefon Diggs.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

2023–24 season: 9–8, fourth place, AFC North

Why they can make the Super Bowl in ’25: The Bengals have the best case for advancing to next year’s Super Bowl simply because they have Joe Burrow. If Burrow starts next season healthy, and the Bengals’ offensive line keeps him upright, they should be back in the mix—it really doesn’t matter how the roster looks in ’24, at least not on the offensive side. Burrow is an elite quarterback because he can elevate everyone’s game, despite his surroundings. But Cincinnati needs improvements on the defensive side, and it wouldn’t hurt to start the season on a lengthy winning streak this time. The Bengals opened with 0–2 records the past two seasons and missed the postseason in ’23 partly because of Burrow’s season-ending wrist injury.


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