As the offseason starts to reach its conclusion and teams get ready for training camp, it can only mean one thing — the 2019-20 season is right around the corner.
While some teams may be aiming to rebuild this season or get over the .500 hump, several squads are ramping up in hopes of being in Miami for the 2020 Super Bowl.
While the season while certainly have its unpredictable storylines, the 2019-20 season may feature your usual suspects competing for the Lombardi Trophy.
Here are the top five contenders to reach the 2020 Super Bowl.
1. New England Patriots
At this point, the biggest surprise of the 2019-20 NFL season would be the New England Patriots failing to reach the 2020 Super Bowl.
For the dynasty that refuses to die, simply making it to the final game of the season is setting a low bar. New England has made three consecutive Super Bowl appearances and has featured in four of the last five. Their standard of excellence has spanned the past two decades.
Even in seasons where the Patriots experience an exodus of talent in free agency or start the year in their predictable slump, they always find their way back to compete for a ring.
But 2019 is a new season and head coach Bill Belichick will be the first to tell you that this year’s team hasn't earned anything.
The offseason was another cruel one for New England as playmakers on both sides of the ball went on to monetarily greener pastures. Defensive end Trey Flowers signed a $90 million deal with the Detroit Lions and left tackle Trent Brown inked a $66 million contract with the Oakland Raiders.
The Patriots defense also lost its ringleader, as play caller and linebackers coach Brian Flores accepted an offer to become the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
The most important headline for any Patriots offseason is the status of quarterback Tom Brady, and the six-time champion left no doubt about his desire to return for a 20th season.
Brady will be without favorite target Rob Gronkowski, who retired following the 2019 Super Bowl, but will still find comfort in long-time target Julian Edelman and the excitement of new receiver N'Keal Harry, who the Patriots selected with the No.32 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
2. New Orleans Saints
At 40-years-old, this could be the last hurrah for Drew Brees and this version of the New Orleans Saints.
Brees and head coach Sean Payton led the Saints all the way to NFC Championship last year, only to be handed defeat by the Los Angeles Rams following a controversial no-call that we won't revisit (you know what happened).
The Saints were on the cusp of another Super Bowl appearance and are one of the favorites to make it out of the NFC this season, but father time is slowly catching up to them.
This must be the year.
Brees has kept relatively quiet about his future, avoiding the yearly questions that flood the airways for Tom Brady every offseason, but at some point, you have to strike the iron when it's hot.
The Saints offense is still loaded with the trio of Brees, running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Mike Thomas, but this is the last season that Thomas is under contract. The Saints already lost franchise rushing touchdown leader Mark Ingram to the Ravens in free agency and they hope to avoid more departing talent as Brees edges towards the end.
While this may sound negative, it shows the prime opportunity that New Orleans has in front of them in 2019. Their dual-threat offense gets another opportunity to get back to the NFC Championship Game and they have a defense that can support them along the way.
With defensive end Cameron Jordan inking to a new deal and Malcolm Brown joining the team from New England, the Saints have the best front seven in the NFC South and a secondary that they improved with several picks in the NFL Draft.
All the right moves have been made by Payton and company — now it just comes down to execution.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
While Kansas City's offense set the league ablaze last season with Pat Mahomes at the helm, it was their defense that ultimately prevented the franchise from reaching its first Super Bowl in half a century.
Following the AFC Championship shootout with the Patriots, the Chiefs reevaluated their entire defensive philosophy, firing coordinator Bob Sutton and parting ways with franchise staples like Justin Houston and Eric Berry through free agency.
Sutton's shoes are now filled by Steve Spagnuolo, the former New York Giants defensive coordinator and St. Louis Rams head coach. With Spagnuolo comes a new 4-3 base defense that is expected to level out the front seven, plus additions like safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and defensive end Frank Clark.
The reload addressed many of Kansas City's needs on defense, but the narrative stays the same — the defense needs to do the bare minimum to support the Chiefs prolific offense.
Speaking of the offense, reigning league MVP Mahomes enters his second year as a starter with a higher hill to climb than the season prior. This will be his first full season without running back Kareem Hunt next to him, as the rusher was released last November due to an off-the-field incident and subsequently signed by the Cleveland Browns.
Mahomes cannot count on star receiver Tyreek Hill, either, as the pass catcher is currently suspended by the NFL while they investigate his potential involvement in an off-the-field incident.
Without Hunt, Mahomes will have to rely on the tandem of Damien Williams and newly acquired back Carlos Hyde, both who will have to play above expectations to reach last year's heights.
But even with the wealth of uncertainty heading into the season, the duo of head coach Andy Reid and Mahomes will likely lead the league in scoring and make another run at the AFC West crown in a battle with the Chargers.
4. Chicago Bears
The sting of the double-doink is still palpable throughout the Windy City.
After an inspiring regular season campaign that featured dominant defensive performances headlined by linebacker Khalil Mack, the Bears fell to the Philadelphia Eagles, 16-15, in the NFC Wild Card Game after kicker Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal.
While heartbreak defined the season's end, Chicago took strides last year that set up a potential Super Bowl run for this season.
Head coach Matt Nagy enters his second season in charge of Chicago's offense, aiming to strengthen the bond with third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. In his sophomore season, Trubisky showed signs of potential, but his leash was restricted as his game continues to develop inside of a new system.
But the North Carolina product didn't have to do too much to ensure success as Chicago's defense did most of the heavy lifting, leading the league in scoring defense (17.7 points per game).
Trubisky should have more support in the backfield this year after the Bears shipped Jordan Howard to Philadelphia, replacing the tailback with running back Mike Davis and offensive hybrid Cordarrelle Patterson. Chicago also picked up David Montgomery in the NFL Draft, giving Nagy a trio of backs to play around with in his playbook.
Chicago's route through the NFC North may prove more difficult this year — Green Bay has reloaded its offense to support Aaron Rodgers and Minnesota has cemented itself as perennial divisional contenders — but the Bears haven't lost enough talent to expect a dip in performance this season.
If anything, the outcome of last season's playoffs may propel the Bears to a more successful postseason.
5. Los Angeles Rams
It's no secret that the losing team in the Super Bowl typically endures a difficult follow-up performance.
The Patriots dispelled that notion last season by winning the Super Bowl after losing the season prior, but that is a statistical outlier when looking at the last two decades in the NFL.
So how do the Rams rebound after one of the flattest Super Bowl performances in recent years? It takes a short memory and a long-term vision for the future.
The star-studded roster that took over Los Angeles last year has lost some of its luster with names like Ndamukong Suh, Rodger Saffold, Lamarcus Joyner and Mark Barron leaving the franchise in free agency.
But the departures left room for the Rams to put money back into the free agent market, signing safety Eric Weddle, linebacker Clay Matthews and quarterback Blake Bortles.
The main reason to keep the faith with this Rams squad is that the head coaching career of Sean McVay is still in its infancy with no ceiling in sight. The 33-year old has already claimed an NFC Championship and been in command of the NFC's best offense while also being forced to deal with the aftermath of failing on the biggest stage in the sport. That’s a lot of experience to learn from in just two seasons as the head man.
McVay still possesses many of the offensive pieces that led him to success (mainly quarterback Jared Goff) and has evened out his roster by saying goodbye to more restricting contracts that potentially could have held the team hostage.
The NFC West will prove more challenging this season with a newly paid Russell Wilson leading Seattle, No.1 pick Kyler Murray getting a shot in Arizona and Jimmy Garoppolo returning to San Francisco after suffering a knee injury last year. However, the Rams still boast one of the best rosters in the sport and should end the regular season with the division crown.
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