2019 is the year of the first-timer. The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup. The Toronto Raptors won their first NBA title. And, not long after the NFL’s regular season comes to an end, the Cleveland Browns will win their first Super Bowl.
Or the Houston Texans.
Or the Los Angeles Chargers.
Or maybe the Minnesota Vikings.
There are a dozen NFL franchises without a banner to hang in their stadiums or a Lombardi Trophy to host in their fanciest meeting rooms. If the current Big 4 sports trend holds, one of them will be hosting a parade in their honor come February 2020.
Here they are, sorted by their chances to finally win the big one next winter.
The Cardinals are breaking in a rookie head coach and a rookie first-round quarterback for the second straight year, somehow. If they win six games this season they’ll:
a) improve on last season’s record by 100 percent, and
b) match the number of wins Kliff Kingsbury had against non-Kansas Big 12 competition in his last three seasons at Texas Tech.
The Bengals will be better if they can coax full seasons from Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, but this still looks like an extremely Marvin Lewis team despite the absence of Marvin Lewis.
The Lions beat the eventual Super Bowl champions last season and finally got a 100-yard rushing performance from one of their tailbacks. Those are about the highlights of their 2018, though, so it’s going to take a journey to even get back to the playoffs in 2019.
Hooo boy, it’d take some leaps
Remember when the Jags were one quarter away from a Super Bowl appearance? That was less than two years ago!
This season, Jacksonville will blend a championship-caliber defense with Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles and quite possibly the league’s least inspiring lineup of skill players. 2019 is the year Foles has to prove he can be good outside of Philadelphia — and that his mid-career slump was a function of Jeff Fisher’s soul-sucking gravity.
The Bills had a quietly great offseason, surrounding second-year quarterback Josh Allen with an array of the kind of free agent targets who can be lured to western New York following a six-win season: Cole Beasley, John Brown, Tyler Kroft, and the immortal Frank Gore.