The primary issue of the day Sunday is whether Tom Brady will win his first Super Bowl with a franchise other than the New England Patriots or if the Kansas City Chiefs will be the first team to win two straight since the Patriots – with Brady – in 2003 and 2004.
Yet there are 12 NFL franchises that continue to wonder when – or if – they ever will win one. Some have had multiple cracks at it only to fall short. Four have never even played in the season’s final game.
Here is a look at those teams, ranked according to which is the closest to actually being crowned Super Bowl champion (from least likely to most likely):
12. Detroit Lions: Their choice for head coach has been widely panned, their long-time franchise quarterback has been shipped out and they allowed more points than any team in the league this season. The question is not when their Super Bowl quest will end, it’s where to start in order to try to get there. 2019 record – 5-11. Super Bowl history – Never made it.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars: Coach Urban Meyer and the first overall pick in this year’s draft, presumably Trevor Lawrence, will create excitement, but history shows this sort of rebuild takes several years, at best. 2019 record – 1-15. Super Bowl history – Never made it.
10. Houston Texans: Quarterback Deshaun Watson is the only thing standing between this team and complete irrelevance. If his request for a trade is granted, the Texans will get a massive return but there is no guarantee they will know how to make the most of it. 2019 record – 4-12. Super Bowl history – Never made it.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Quarterback Joe Burrow is reason for optimism for a typically moribund franchise, but he needs a lot more help than he currently has on that roster. 2019 record – 4-11-1. Super Bowl history – Two losses, last in 1988.
8. Carolina Panthers: Getting Christian McCaffrey back will help, but they have serious personnel issues to address before coach Matt Rhule can get this team headed in the mix for a division title, let alone a Super Bowl crown. 2019 record – 5-11. Super Bowl history – Two losses, last in 2015.
7. Atlanta Falcons: Former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith takes over a team with some serious offensive firepower. Salary cap and age issues, however, mean a rebuild is not far off. Either they catch lightning in a bottle in 2021 or it will be a few years before they can content again. 2019 record – 4-12. Super Bowl history – Two losses, last in 2016.
6. Minnesota Vikings: Running back Dalvin Cook is an elite back who is a cross between the modern multi-dimensional guys and the old-school power runners. Until quarterback Kirk Cousins proves otherwise, however, there will be questions about his ability to win when it counts. 2019 record – 7-9. Super Bowl history – Four losses, last in 1976.
5. L.A. Chargers: A year from now the Chargers might be on top of this list, but quarterback Justin Herbert will have to continue his NFL education while he also learns a new offense and builds a rapport with a new coach. 2019 record – 7-9. Super Bowl history – Lost in 1994.
4. Tennessee Titans: They took a step back after their AFC Championship game appearance last season, and free agency is going to take a chunk out of the roster this year. With Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown, though, there won’t be a precipitous decline. 2019 record – 11-5. Super Bowl history – Lost in 1999.
3. Arizona Cardinals: In its second year with coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray, the Cardinals scored nearly twice as many points than the year before they arrived. The continued development of that offense and an emerging defense will be a potent combination going forward. 2019 record – 8-8. Super Bowl history – Lost in 2008.
2. Cleveland Browns: Their first playoff appearance in 19 seasons makes it look as if they are ready to realize the massive potential analysts have seen for years in the Browns. Continued improvement could produce a massive leap in 2021. 2019 record – 11-5. Super Bowl history – Never made it.
1. Buffalo Bills: The Bills have steadily improved in four years under coach Sean McDermott, and they reached the AFC Championship game this season. Now that quarterback Josh Allen has come of age, they will be a popular pick to win it all throughout the offseason. 2019 record – 13-3. Super Bowl history – Four consecutive losses, last in 1993.