Every year, NFL teams are tasked with a similar goal: To bring home a championship.
No matter if a team already has a solid foundation in place or is amidst a rebuilding project and working from the ground up, the ultimate goal remains the same.
However, it is foolish to suggest that all 32 teams have an equal shot of finishing the season on top.
There are many variables that factor into a team's success, (or failure). Teams' personnel change, players get cut and traded, distractions occur on and off the field, and key injuries occur.
Since the beginning of the millennium, six different teams, (out of nine total), have won "the big one." The Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and New York Giants all have a field of players who can proudly boast a ring.
But what was it that allowed for these teams to achieve the league's highest status? For that, we'll have to dive into everyone's favorite subject—math—so as to see the parts that made up the whole on these championship rosters.
Of the nine rosters, each team on average had:
- An 11th ranked team offense
- A sixth ranked team defense
- A quarterback who threw for 3,125 yards and 21 touchdowns on 12 interceptions
- A running back who carried the ball 247 times for 1,067 yards and six touchdowns
- A No. 1 wide receiver who caught the ball 73 times for 1,012 yards and five touchdowns
- A No. 2 wide receiver who caught the ball 59 times for 882 yards and five touchdowns
- A defense that housed a player who garnered 11 sacks
- A defense that housed a player who garnered six picks
The formula I created for predicting next year's winner calls for giving a point for each category that an NFL team qualifies for.
So, for example, since Philip Rivers surpassed the 3,125 yard, 21 touchdown category last year, San Diego gets awarded a point, (from the quarterback category).
It is important to note that points can be given off for realistic potential as well.
An example is Carson Palmer. He did not meet the 3,125 yard or 21 touchdown requirement last year. But because he was injured, (and does possess the ability to attain and or surpass those numbers), Cincinnati still gets a point from the quarterback category.
Here are the results:
- The Pittsburgh Steelers received eight points.
- The Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles received seven points.
- The Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, and Atlanta Falcons received six points.
- The Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Jets received five points.
- The Tennessee Titans received four points.
- The Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, and Seattle Seahawks received three points.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars received two points.
- The San Francisco 49ers received one point.
So based on the formula, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the most likely team to win Super Bowl XLIV. It would be back-to-back titles for the franchise, and its third since the year 2000; joining the Patriots in that regard.
But the Steelers are not the only team with a legitimate shot to go the distance. Perennial powers such as the Colts, Patriots, and Cowboys are all right behind the defending champs, and are looking to claim the title of "NFL's Best" for themselves.
Some "dark horse" teams (teams that have a good percentage to win it all, but aren't perceived the same way by the fans, players, and media) include Green Bay, Houston, and Atlanta.
The numbers don't lie, however, and that is why I am choosing Pittsburgh to repeat as NFL Champions.
As a famous quote reads, "Past instances are a good indicator for future success," and that certainly bodes well for the Steelers.