October 18, 2021

Every 2021 NFL Super Bowl Contender's Biggest Weakness

With Week 6 of the NFL season in the books, the championship contenders are starting to separate themselves from the pack. We now have a significant amount of data and evidence to point towards a team's true identity. 

The NFL Trade Deadline is on the horizon, and making an aggressive move to bolster a roster could pay off massively — like the Cardinals' acquisition of Zach Ertz. Every team has a critical flaw that can be exploited at some point. Opting to save some money and assets over addressing a key weakness could be disastrous.

Today, we're looking at the top-10 betting favorites at DraftKings to win the Super Bowl and identifying their most glaring issue. Let's dig in and see how these teams' weaknesses could define their season or be addressed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Health

The Buccaneers easily boast the best roster in the NFL. Their offense has zero issues creating efficient bursts both through the air and on the ground. The front seven of their defense is as fierce as anyone as well.

The cornerback position has endured a number of injuries — including newly signed defensive back Richard Sherman, who was only signed out of desperation. Sherman is expected to miss several weeks with a hamstring injury. 

None of it is bad enough to think Tampa Bay won't go deep into the playoffs, but we saw the Rams beat the Buccaneers because of this issue.

Buffalo Bills: Run Game

Few teams worry about the run game in 2021 and it's for good reason. Franchises don't need a tremendously good tailback or dominant ground game to win a Super Bowl. But it's really nice to have in your backpocket if the passing game stagnates.

Devin Singletary is nice, but the rest of their backs are unrecognizable. If Josh Allen struggles at any point or is hobbled in the pocket, the Bills will be unable to augment via the run game. The Bills are a good team, but they rely on Allen more than they would like to admit. 

Trading for a veteran can help but the market is limited. Marlon Mack or Saquon Barkley might be the two notable names available.

Kansas City Chiefs: Entire Defense

The entire Chiefs' defense has stunk this year. The secondary has massively disappointed after quality years from L'Jarius Sneed and Tyrann Mathieu gave reason to believe this unit was trending upwards. However, the trade for Mike Hughes, missing Charvarius Ward, and relying too much on Daniel Sorensen is costing the team wins.

The Chiefs have major issues upfront, too. A great pass rush would surely help the starving secondary, but Frank Clark has disappeared and Jarran Reed has failed to show anything after coming from Seattle. Chris Jones is the only impactful defender on the unit this year, and one man is not enough to keep the Chiefs atop the AFC contender list.

Los Angeles Rams: Defensive Playmaking

The Rams have looked excellent in several key moments this year. Their passing game has been unstoppable despite a lackluster ground game. Sean McVay deserves credit for abandoning an ethos that wasn't working as defenses keyed in on his offense.

The Rams' defense clearly has some troubling indicators, though. There's no real way of upgrading the lack of playmaking on the defensive front seven at this point in the season. Instead, Aaron Donald and this secondary have tremendous pressure to be stars each game for this team to win.

Green Bay Packers: Receiver Depth

Does anyone think an opposing defensive coordinator spends time game planning for anyone but Davante Adams in the Packers receiving corps? Aaron Jones is the only threat on the roster beyond Adams who can consistently win against man coverage but he's rarely used in that way. The trio of Robert Tonyan, Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard are completely uninspiring.

The Packers may be entering their last stretch with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Acquiring another receiver who can do anything on their own and outside of the scheme is the only way for an otherwise quality roster to win a Super Bowl.

Baltimore Ravens: Secondary Health

This should come as no surprise after the Ravens suffered season-ending injuries to both Marcus Peters and Chris Westry. The Ravens' cornerback room is still talented thanks to Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, Jimmy Smith, and Anthony Averett, but the results haven't been there.

Chuck Clark, Young, DeShon Elliott, and Smith have all dealt with injuries and missed time this year. They have the 29th-ranked passing defense because of it. This could be the undoing of the Ravens if their most talented bodies can't stay on the field.

Thankfully, they have Lamar Jackson to help plug the holes. 

Arizona Cardinals: Cornerbacks

Armed with one of the best offenses in the NFL and a shocking 6-0 start, Arizona is doing whatever they can to continue the momentum. Fresh off trading for Ertz, the Cardinals are in win-now mode and must address their woes at cornerback. Their eighth-place passing yards allowed ranking is misleading.

Foes will take advantage of the strange combination of Marco Wilson, Robert Alford, and Byron Murphy eventually. It's not that they're bad, but they're not a physically gifted bunch who can match up against more dominating presences. I'd love to see Arizona acquire someone like Xavien Howard or another proven name.

Dallas Cowboys: Secondary

I love some of the potential within the Dallas secondary room. Trevon Diggs is an absolute star, and safeties Malik Hooker and Damontae Kazee have the ability to take the unit to a higher level. I hope the two safeties stay healthy and get the chance to show their ball skills soon.

The rest of the unit is below-average. The physical limitations between Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis have been crippling at times for the league's 32nd-ranked passing defense. A trade for a veteran like Joe Haden would go a long way for Dallas' Super Bowl hopes.

Los Angeles Chargers: Health

This franchise is forever snakebitten with injury misfortune. The Chargers are a great value to win the Super Bowl, but they cannot afford one more major injury to their core players. Offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga and Oday Aboushi are already on injured reserve, putting a dent in the franchise's efforts to keep Justin Herbert upright in 2021.

The defense has largely avoided too many issues. There's hope linebacker Kenneth Murray will be back from the IR before too long after an ankle injury. Hopefully, we finally see this team get the chance to compete with a healthy roster.

Cleveland Browns: Quarterback Confidence

I wrote about the Browns' Baker Mayfield problem earlier this week. Cleveland is suffering from Baker's waning confidence again showing, as the team is 25th in passing and struggles to make plays through the air when they need to. If the Browns want to get back on track, Mayfield has to be better. 

When Baker is confident, the Browns' offense has Super Bowl potential. He's not an elite guy who can outduel the league's finest passers but when combined with the perfect scheme and great surrounding cast, Mayfield can deliver the goods. 

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