7 teams that can win the Super Bowl

PFF staffers identify seven teams that profile as the strongest Super Bowl contenders for the 2015 season.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

7 teams that can win the Super Bowl

Our PFF staffers made their Super Bowl picks, and seven teams were chosen as winners. Here they are, with an explanation of why they’ll win for each. (Note, they are listed in order based on the number of notes they received.)

1. Green Bay Packers

This pick starts at the top. Aaron Rodgers, our No. 1-graded quarterback a year ago, makes any team in the league a playoff contender, and any team with a modicum of talent a Super Bowl contender. Even without star WR Jordy Nelson (torn ACL), they’ve amassed an offense that had more players grade within the top five at their position in 2014 than any other. The defense has been their downfall since winning the Super Bowl XLV, but there is reason to believe the secondary is getting closer to the level of that 2010 team that led the NFL in allowed passer rating. After grading average as a rookie, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has looked far more comfortable in Year 2 and could give the Packers the playmaker on the back end they really need. –Mike Renner

2. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks were a play away from hoisting the Lombardi for the second year in a row last year, despite Russell Wilson having a relatively disappointing season as a passer. I don’t think that’ll be the case for Wilson two years in a row, especially with the addition of Jimmy Graham, who averaged 1.87 yards from the slot a year ago, third-highest among tight ends. They still have a top defense, and it has the potential to be even better this year if edge rusher Frank Clark, who had seven total pressures and dominated against the run this preseason, can convert August success into a stellar rookie campaign, to join the group of great talents they already have on that unit. –Gordon McGuinness

3. Denver Broncos

The key for Denver to reach and win the Super Bowl is to trust its ground game to take more of a leading role in key games, and in Gary Kubiak I think they now have a head coach who will do that. In C.J. Anderson they have our highest-graded running back from Week 10 onwards last season (+19.2), and by adding Evan Mathis they now have a very good interior offensive line to help clear the way in Kubiak’s zone scheme. Throw in Von Miller’s ferocious pass rush (73 pressures last season) and quality coverage from Chris Harris Jr. and co. on the back end, and you have the recipe for a Super Bowl-winning team — and that’s without mentioning a certain Peyton Manning, who is still one of our top 10 QBs. –Ben Stockwell

4. New England Patriots

While the Patriots’ secondary may be a weak point for them this season (CB Malcolm Butler had an awful game against the Steelers in Week 1), they have enough strength elsewhere to more than make up for it. New additions DE Jabaal Sheard and DE Trey Flowers (+56.4 overall grade last year, second-highest among all NCAA edge defenders) will make huge contributions along the defensive line, giving the Patriots their best pass rush of the PFF era. On offense, with newly added TE Scott Chandler drawing more coverage, PFF’s No. 1 TE Rob Gronkowki (2.53 yards per route run in 2014, highest among TEs) will have his best season since 2011. Faced with the most scrutiny since the 2007 season, QB Tom Brady and the Patriots will respond in a similar way, and cap it off with a fifth Super Bowl victory. –Bryson Vesnaver

5. Indianapolis Colts

The biggest reason the Colts are a Super Bowl contender is Andrew Luck, who, despite not ranking as high in our QB ratings as some might like him to be, due to his at times inconsistent play, he is still clearly on the rise as an NFL QB and is as prolific a deep passer as you’ll find (he had 289 more yards than any other quarterback last season on passes over 20 yards). The O-line is a concern, as is the defense, which is why a return to pre-torn Achilles form for Robert Mathis, who was our No. 7 pass-rusher among 3-4 OLBs in 2013, is essential. If he and Trent Cole, who ranked No. 9 in pass-rushing at the position last season, can make this defense a league-average unit, the Colts should once again be in the AFC title mix because of Luck and their dynamic passing game. –Michael Mountford

6. Detroit Lions

The Lions may have lost superstar DT Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins, but the remaining defensive components will be enough to bring Lions fans the glory. DE Ezekiel Ansah generated the second-best pass rushing productivity among 4-3 DEs last season, and the combination of CBs Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay provide Detroit with one of the better secondaries in the NFL. On offense, QB Matthew Stafford is coming off a down 2014 season in our grades, but ranked No. 7 among QBs in 2013 and should be able to bounce back with a full season of the WR duo of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, who both produced yards per route totals within the NFL’s top 15 (2.29 and 2.13, respectively). The difference-maker on offense will be the addition of RB Ameer Abdullah, who will give the Lions the breakaway threat they have sorely lacked in previous seasons. –-Wes Huber

7. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are a great dark-horse Super Bowl pick this year. QB Philip Rivers has had two quiet seasons of great play, ranking eighth overall among QBs in 2014 and third overall in 2013. The addition of first-round rookie RB Melvin Gordon, who of our highest-graded college running backs last year, has fans hopeful the passing attack can be balanced with a reliable run game that has been missing the past few seasons. Possibly the biggest boon to the Chargers this year will be OLB Melvin Ingram, who had a +4.3 pass-rush grade this preseason and has looked very explosive off the edge. He could be the missing piece for a solid defense that has been sorely missing an edge rusher. —Bobby Slowik


  • burjur

    As a Chargers fan, I am thrilled someone views the Bolts as viable super bowl contenders. The Chargers success depends greatly on the passing of Rivers and that solid secondary. To be frank though, the leap from middle of pack to super bowl contender would mean that the issues the chargers suffered from last season (pass rush, o-line, and run game) can be corrected with a return to health for key players and new acquisitions panning out. That reliance on unproven factors is what optimistic fans like me hold on to but I would be foolish to assume it would be a definite reality.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      well said. curious to see if SD can stop the run tho

  • King Pelé

    The only team in the AFC i can see beating the Patriots is the Ravens. The Chargers have a good team but they would be destroyed in Foxborough in January, the Colts are Patriots b*tches, and the Broncos have a better roster than the Patriots but Belichick dominated them last year and Manning is poised to have his worst season in many years. The Ravens are the only team that go to Gillette Stadium and play like if they were in Baltimore. Patriots/Ravens x Seahawks/Packers in SB 50.

    • anon76returns

      Good thing for the Broncos that the Pats have to come to Mile High this year.

      • King Pelé

        Yes, the same place where the Broncos lost to the Colts last season in one of the worst performances of Manning’s career. Some people will say he was injured but it was his lack of arm strength that stood out in that game, the way he was putting extra effort in his passes trying to compensate the lack power in his throws and end up overthrowing WRs all the game. The only way the Broncos will beat the Patriots this year will be if New England play without 8 starters like in 2013 (Gronkowski, Vollmer, Wilfork, Kelly, Mayo, Spikes, Talib and Wilson)

        • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

          denver was without von miller, chris harris (both top 10 overall in 2014 despite recovering from ACL tears) and many more in that same game

          • King Pelé

            Not “many more”, these were the only 2 starters out for Denver. But what happened 2 seasons ago is irrelevant anyway, back then Manning could actually put some zip on the football and Brady was on his worst season since he gained the elite status. Things are pretty different now.

  • Wyzel

    I dont get the detroit pick at all, a lot of their success was no team being able to run on them and the interior rush. With that gone, can the defense be successful? Can stafford get hot in the playoffs? They are not winning the division, and Stafford cannot win on the road.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      detroit was the surprise of this article to me as well

  • Jaguars28

    No Jaguars?! What!

    • Tim Edell

      They will be in the next article titled… 7 Coaches who may be in their last year!

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    • jay mill

      -Yeah i now right jaguars expected to be 8-8

  • GBPfan

    As a Packer fan, I’d (maybe) add the vikings to this list instead of the Lions.
    If that defense plays to it’s potential, if Peterson isn’t washed up yet and if TB steps up.
    That team could be scary late in the season.

  • Scott

    Where are the Ravens? The only reason we got burned is because of our secondary was decimated by injuries. If Jimmy Smith was healthy last year we probably would have won the super bowl. He strapped everyone who he matched up with.

  • I’m the King of NY

    Eagles should be listed here. You heard it here first.

  • Eric O. Nelson, III

    Impressive that someone recognizes the Lions. Peter King and Doug farrar also did.

    Simple facts, they won 11 games last year with rookie coordinators. A second year in those systems is huge. Adding abdullah to a healthy bell makes their backfield strong. Having Tate and Cj to throw to, best receiver duo in the NFL.

    Although many are ignoring these facts, the most important is Ngata being healthy, slimmer and in a contract year. In case you have forgotten, he is a 5 time pro bowler. Fairley played 8 games and had exactly 14 tackles for the year! Is that irreplaceable? No.

    • Chad Thostenson

      glover quinn is overrated and mathis is old, that pass defense will suffer in extended coverage without suh and fairley. i would replace them with minnesota on this list and if the lions even make it to the playoffs, it will be because 3 teams from the NFC north made it. GB and Minnesota will both beat the lions twice. you can’t expect all those players on defense to get any better with Suh gone. and i wouldn’t expect Ngata to fill that void, anybody who watches football outside the lions games will tell you, that ravens players don’t perform as well when they leave that system. SUH is the best defensive player not named JJ Watt, you’re crazy if you don’t think that will have a devastating impact on their defensive production. also expect Ansah to not be as good either.

      • Eric O. Nelson, III

        Why is Glover Quin overrated? He led the league in picks and is a pro bowl, top 5 safety. He is a perfect fit for this system. Ihedigbo was a pro bowl alternate last year and is a dominant run stopper.

        9 returning starters from the number 2 defense last year. Fairley is not hard to replace. Ngata is a downgrade, but not a massive one. Walker is an upgrade over fairley, as is Tulloch over Whitehead.

        I will bet you your annual salary that they don’t get swept by the Vikings and pack.

        BTW, the Lions went 3-1 against them last year.

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        • Chad Thostenson

          interception don’t mean shit at safety. reliability on the back end , coverage and tackling ability mean much more, interception are 85% luck.

      • gregg rice

        Lol watched EVERY GAME last YEAR in the nfl. U have no idea what ur talking about. The only thing u said remotely accurate was Ngata wont replace Suh. Lol and bridgewater wont replace tarkenton, and teddy wont replace his couch for gametime this January, guarantee that bud.

        • Chad Thostenson

          i guess i was right bud. teddy won the division. who was watching from the couch in january? the skip bayless award goes to you for being inaccurate.

    • gregg rice

      Ngata is rusty, and i am now openly questioning IF HE IS comapatible with our or even ANY 4-3, seeing he’s played for one team in a 3-4 base defemse his WHOLE CAREER. As a l Iions fan who has used PFF and F.O. for years now, the lions ceiling will be a playoff win. Ngata was a desperation move that probably (if at all) wont pay off til week 4 at the earliest. While u bag on fairley(detroits biggest off season loss loss in terms of finanncial quality) and thats the loss that really hurts. While those 14 tackles seem miniscule, his pass rush rating was excellent, and he impacted plays like no other. He ALSO OUTPLAYED SUH IN 3 OR 4 out of those games. EVERY SINGLE TEAM STAT DIPPED when he got injured, and we were no longer a no.1 defense, losing that stat to sea two weeks after…

  • Saeed

    The Ra

    • Saeed

      *The Ravens were ranked in PFF’s top 5 in both offense and defense last year. And yes, there were a lot of key losses, but look at who those were: Torrey Smith, Owen Daniels, Pernell Mcphee, Darian Stewart, Haloti Ngata, and anyone else I missed. Every one of these players were either replaced (Smith, Daniels, Stewart, Ngata) through draft, FA, or second/third string players or weren’t full starters in the first place (Mcphee). The only player I’m worried about losing is Ngata, and while Jernigan isn’t as good, PFF shows he’s capable of starting on a contender’s defense (and 9 years younger; also Carl Davis is looking great). Smith was replaced with Perriman (once he gets healthy, and he could very well be a bust), Daniels with Gillmore/Williams (Gillmore was 19th ranked TE, Daniels was 14th, Williams has more catching potential than either), Mcphee with no one, really, but Suggs, Dumervil, and Upshaw all rated well on this site (haven’t heard much about the rookie Smith), Stewart with Lewis (if not an upgrade, then easily just as good).

      Like another comment already said, nobody plays the Patriots like the Ravens do. With a weaker Pittsburgh this year, if Baltimore can (finally) consistently beat Cincy then they’re looking at at least the AFC North crown (which is still the best division in the NFL, but AFC East/West could both be better by the end of the season).

  • Jeffrey Vietri

    No real stretches here….four of the seven didn’t look great Sunday.

  • hill on top

    LOL chargers and lions potential winning the super bowl if that’s the case then the jaguars could win too.