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Monday open thread: Who will be the next team to end their Super Bowl drought?

The Bengals broke their streak, so who is next?

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are on their way to the Super Bowl after decades of waiting. Will another team follow in their footsteps in the coming years?

Just appearing in a Super Bowl is an incredibly difficult feat to achieve, as Detroit Lions fans know too well. Four teams have yet to even play in the big game: the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Lions. Fittingly, those four teams have been regarded among the worst in the league. Postseason success makes or breaks a team’s legacy. With the Bengals breaking their Super Bowl appearance drought that dated back to 1988, there are 12 teams with droughts lasting 20 years or longer:

Those are some significant waits. However, with just one game left to play in the 2021 season—the Pro Bowl doesn’t count—we will soon hit the reset button and give all 32 teams a shot at the title. Is there a chance we see one of these streaks ended in the near future?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Who will be the next team to end their Super Bowl drought?

My answer: I think the Los Angeles Chargers will be the next team to end their Super Bowl appearance drought.

The Buffalo Bills seem like an obvious pick after that epic showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs. Josh Allen has grown into one of the best quarterbacks in the league, while their defense is top-notch and still young. However, their cap space is not ideal heading into 2022, and they may lose a key contributor like Jerry Hughes, Levi Wallace, or Harrison Phillips. The AFC is looking like an arms race, and the Bills may not have the cap space to patch some weaknesses. They will need development from their young draft picks, which is certainly possible.

The Chargers, on the contrary, have ample cap space to wheel and deal this offseason. The backbone of the offense is set. Justin Herbert is one of the bright young stars of the league. Austin Ekeler is a reliable and versatile running back. The offensive line has two of the best linemen in the league in Corey Linsley and Rashawn Slater. Their biggest needs fall on the defensive side of the ball. Joey Bosa and Derwin James are excellent when healthy, but they need another star or two. Thankfully, free agency has plenty of talented safeties and corners to add, and Los Angeles can afford a heftier price tag.

Also working against Buffalo is the loss of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll has since been hired as the head coach of the New York Giants, and he was a critical piece of the explosive Bills offense. There’s no guarantee that quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey returns either, as he may land a gig elsewhere. Losing two of their best offensive minds would significantly hinder the Bills offense.

The Chargers enter year two under Brandon Staley, perhaps one of mine and Jeremy’s favorite coaches in the league. The 2021 Chargers defense was not up to par in contrast to Staley’s tenure with the Los Angeles Rams, but I would not rush judgement yet. I still have doubts about offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, but the offense was humming for most of the season, coming in as the fourth-ranked offense per DVOA. While Mike Williams may depart in free agency, Keenan Allen continues to play at an elite level. Add in a draft pick or two, and the passing game shouldn’t skip a beat.

I would love to pick the Lions, but the rebuild is still very much in its early stages. There’s no question the Lions can build a winner, but in the short-term, there are a few teams primed for deep playoff runs.

Your turn.

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