Now that this year’s championship has been determined after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV, it’s time to look directly forward to next season! Here you can find some of the best and updated sports news.
Who will compose the 14 NFL playoff teams after the 2021 season is finished? Who will be the Super Bowl 2022 champion in the next calendar year?
AFC West champions: Kansas City Chiefs
Are we going to bet against the Chiefs at this point? They were a play away from participating in the past three Super Bowls and only went 14-2. Before the Chargers, Raiders or Broncos prove they can knock off the champs, there’s absolutely no excuse to bet against Kansas City in its division.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, blindingly fast receiver Tyreek Hill and possible GOAT tight end Travis Kelce had to be the most destructive passing game trio in modern NFL history. They cause too many matchup challenges, and what’s more, are capable of making so many plays out of structure that transform into touchdowns.
As long as those three superstars remain well, the Chiefs can keep rolling and theoretically be a Super Bowl 2022 competitor. And scarier, K.C. will potentially boost if the run blocking gets stronger to pave more lanes for gifted tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who feels underutilized as a first-year pro and should be ready to be a top-five fantasy running back for the remainder of his rookie contract due to his pass-catching skill.
Don’t sleep on the Chiefs’ safety, too. Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo likes to add pressure and dial up plays with reckless abandon, due in part to the privilege of possessing a Mahomes-led offense. Defensive tackle Chris Jones is an outstanding interior pass-rusher, and the secondary headlined by Tyrann Mathieu is low-key one of the greatest in all of football.
AFC North champions: Cleveland Browns
The AFC squad that came nearest to defeating the Chiefs was Cleveland, who fell 22-17 in the Divisional Round. Yeah, Mahomes was down with an injury for a decent chunk of that game, but the Browns proved they aren’t the “same old Browns” and were a Rashard Higgins touchback turnover away from having that one very exciting — with or without Mahomes.
Mind you, this was all done with a totally outmatched defense that was without starting defensive end Olivier Vernon, who sustained a Week 17 Achilles fracture.
What those outside Cleveland don’t realize is the Browns have played 2020 without a rookie in Grant Delpit who ripped his Achilles in training camp and would’ve begun at defense. No. 2 cornerback Greedy Williams was still out for half of this past season, which really placed the defensive secondary in a bind.
As long as general manager Andrew Berry brings the requisite changes to the defense, it looks like reigning Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski has something unique on offense with Baker Mayfield at the controls. Mayfield was Pro Football Focus‘ eighth-best quarterback this season, had PFF’s No. 1 offensive line and fourth-ranked running back, Nick Chubb.
AFC South champions: Tennessee Titans
The Indianapolis Colts might easily take this spot at any stage, but after trading for Carson Wentz in the aftermath of Philip Rivers’ resignation, it’s difficult to promote them at this moment due to Wentz’s horrendous 2020 campaign. That’s why the Titans, perhaps by implication, check in here as champions of the AFC South for the second straight season.
Thanks to the current Deshaun Watson trade demand debacle and the desperate condition of the team, the Houston Texans have no chance at winning this division. Although there are strong expectations in Jacksonville with the imminent emergence of quarterback Trevor Lawrence to combine hands with Urban Meyer, it seems premature to claim the Jaguars are poised to compete for the postseason.
Tennessee has a nucleus of players who’ve been to the AFC Championship Game and followed up its unexpected streak with another successful 2020 effort. Running back Derrick Henry rushed for over 2,000 yards this last season, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has started his remarkable career resurgence, due in part to how much publicity Henry draws.
Two big worries, and resultant doubts with this pick: The Titans produced just 19 sacks as a squad, which placed 30th out of 32 players. They also missed offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, when he went on to be head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
AFC East champions: Buffalo Bills
Jan 24, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) looks to throw in the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Who saw Josh Allen‘s hurdling-over-a-skyscraper jump in Year 3 coming? In any case, it occurred, and Stefon Diggs showed the change of scenery from Minnesota to Buffalo was exactly what he wanted to maximize his skills, as he led the league with 127 catches and 1,535 receiving yards.
Diggs is part of a receiving party that includes Cole Beasley and John Brown. They’re a concern for opposing defenses since Allen can detect any given one of them at any moment.
It’s accurate the Bills’ defense reached their groove at the right moment after a slow start to 2020 and performed well enough to reach the AFC title game. Nevertheless, there’s space for progress on that unit. Coach Sean McDermott’s scheme relies heavily on a good community of cornerbacks, but two of Buffalo’s best three players at that spot would be free agents.