Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (2023)

Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023

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    Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (1)

    Gabe DavisKevin Sabitus/Getty Images

    Each NFL season starts with 32 teams chasing a Super Bowl, but only a much smaller number really have the roster to make that an attainable goal.

    Out of those few, only one gets to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

    Even the best teams in the league have a weakness that could ultimately cost them their shot at glory. It might be something they can mask most of the time thanks to a loaded roster or great coaching, but it has a way of coming back to bite when it matters.

    Here, we'll take a look at the top eight Super Bowl contenders based on the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and the Achilles heel that could derail their 2023 campaign.

Kansas City Chiefs: Pass-Catchers Other Than Travis Kelce

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    Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (2)

    Travis KelceAP Photo/Ashley Landis

    Super Bowl Odds: +600

    The Kansas City Chiefs are the favorite heading into the season because they have very few holes and the best head coach-quarterback tandem in the league right now.

    Andy Reid has been putting out elite offenses for years and Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league. Add in the league's best receiving tight end and the Chiefs have been able to build a strong offense with one of the league's least proven wide receiving corps.

    The Chiefs proved they could survive without Tyreek Hill last season. After trading him to Miami they were still the league's No. 1 passing attack, but a lot of that had to do with how dominant Travis Kelce was.

    No one dominated their position more than Kelce. T.J. Hockenson was clearly the second-most productive tight end and Kelce had 424 more yards, six more touchdowns and 24 more receptions on 23 more targets than the Vikings pass-catcher.

    But Kelce will be 34 years old in October and has played a smaller percentage of the snaps in each of the last three seasons. If his age starts to show there are real questions about the receivers behind him.

    JuJu Smith-Schuster was the top wideout last season but he left in free agency. That leaves Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the lone proven veteran wideout. After that, they are relying from breakout seasons from Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney or rookie Rashee Rice.

    Reid and Mahomes are the perfect pairing to get the most out of them, but if Kelce gets hurt or takes a step back it's going to be difficult to continue to have an elite passing game.

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Philadelphia Eagles: Safety Turnover

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    Super Bowl Odds: +650

    The Eagles suffered two major losses on the defensive side this offseason. Javon Hargrave and C.J. Gardner-Johnson both took offers from other teams in free agency and both were key players on the defense that made it to the Super Bowl.

    Losing Hargrave stings, but they added Jalen Carter to an already-stacked defensive line. They led the league in sacks last season and still have many of the key players who contributed. Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick all had double-digit sacks.

    The same clear replacement plan doesn't exist in the safety group. Not only did they lose Gardner-Johnson, but Marcus Epps is gone too. Gardner-Johnson was a difference-maker last season. Not only did he have six interceptions but he was able to slide in at slot corner when Avonte Maddox went down with injury.

    It's always difficult to replace a player with that kind of versatility and playmaking. The Eagles are taking their best shot at it with free agent signee Terrell Edmunds. He's a strong run defender but struggled in coverage, giving up a 116.2 passer rating when targeted last season.

    Reed Blankenship will also need to play a bigger role. He played 45 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie, but Bo Wulf of The Athletic ranked Blankenship's summer performance as the best on the team.

    There's obviously a lot of talent on the Eagles defense, but if Edmunds and Blankenship don't live up to expectations they will have a weakness that good teams can attack.

Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (4)

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Buffalo Bills: Lack of a Secondary Receiving Option

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    Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (5)

    Gabe DavisCooper Neill/Getty Images

    Super Bowl Odds: +900

    Paging Gabe Davis.

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    The Bills have been oh-so-close to getting to the Super Bowl over the last few seasons. Building the offense around Josh Allen's ability to run and Stefon Diggs has led to four-straight playoff berths and an AFC Championship appearance.

    Last season, Allen's health and the lack of a traditional running game hurt them. Allen played with an elbow injury he suffered in Week 9 and the Bills had to be more careful about allowing Allen's rushing ability to carry the offense and be more traditional.

    To do that, they needed someone to step up and become a reliable second option in the passing game. That didn't really happen. Davis only had a 30 percent contested catch rate and was 15th in unrealized air yards, per Player Profiler.

    The Bills did a lot to shift their offense into a more balanced unit. Drafting interior offensive lineman O'Cyrus Torrence in the second round and tight end Dalton Kincaid in the first were two moves that should allow them to be more multiple. They rarely utilized 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) last season but should be able to do this seaon.

    The depth chart still lacks a true No. 2 wide receiver, though. They're either relying on Davis to have a delayed breakout season, Kincaid to become that kind of receiving weapon as a rookie or will have to make a move before the trade deadline.

    If they don't. This offense could get stuck in neutral at the most pivotal moment of the season again.

San Francisco 49ers: A Brock Purdy Sophomore Slump

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    Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (6)

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Super Bowl Odds: +1000

    There are few teams in this modern era of the NFL who could carry such heavy expectations with such big questions at quarterback.

    The 49ers have one of the best collections of skill talent in the league. Being successful at quarterback is a lot easier with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle with Kyle Shanahan calling plays.

    Even with all of those advantages, it's fair to have questions about Brock Purdy going into the season. Purdy seized the starting quarterback job as the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2022 draft when injuries forced him into the lineup.

    He responded by going 5-0 in the regular season as the starter and winning two playoff games.

    The question is whether he's ready to go toe-to-toe with a team like the Eagles and whoever emerges from the AFC to win the Super Bowl. Purdy is still a small sample size star right now.

    Success in the NFL as a quarterback comes down to the ability to adjust to adjustments. As teams come up with tailored plans to stop him, it's unclear how he'll respond, especially coming off an elbow that took all spring to heal.

    If Purdy falters or is injured the Niners will be turning things over to Sam Darnold, who they just named their No. 2 quarterback.

    Neither is likely to keep the Niners from being a good team in 2023. The question is whether one or both of them could lead the team to a Super Bowl.

Cincinnati Bengals: A Young, Inexperienced Secondary

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    Cam Taylor-BrittAP Photo/Jeff Dean

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    Super Bowl Odds: +1100

    Lou Anarumo has earned a reputation as one of the best defensive minds in the league but he's going to be challenged in a different way this season.

    The Bengals lost three of their four starting defensive backs this offseason. Jessie Bates III was expected to leave and they chose not to bring back Eli Apple. But they also lost Vonn Bell, forcing them to replace two safeties.

    Smart drafting had one replacement lined up. They drafted Dax Hill last season and he will slide into one safety spot. The other will likely be occupied by veteran free agent signing Nick Scott but third-round pick Jordan Battle could get into the mix.

    Apple could be a polarizing player with boom-or-bust potential from game to game and play to play. Cam Taylor-Britt may be a better player in his second season, but he's still bound to have some growing pains as he moves into a full-time role.

    Add in the fact that Chidobe Awuzie is coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in October and there are a lot of questions for this secondary.

    There's a lot of talent and a good DC putting it together but they have to be elite by the end of the season and that's a high bar.

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott's Interceptions

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    Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (8)

    Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Super Bowl Odds: +1400

    There's a lot to like about the Cowboys and some of the major moves they made. Going into the offseason, the absence of a No. 2 cornerback and No. 2 wide receiver were probably the biggest needs holding them back.

    They addressed them both with trades, bringing in Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks to round out a roster that was already impressive.

    But the thing that could derail the Cowboys hopes is actually a returning struggle: Dak Prescott turned the ball over too much last season.

    The 30-year-old tossed 15 interceptions in 12 regular season games. His penchant for turning the ball ultimately cost them again when he threw two picks in the 19-12 loss to the Niners in the divisional round.

    On paper, the Cowboys have all the ingredients to break through, but it's going to take an earlier version of Prescott to bring it all together. He's thrown 25 interceptions over the last two seasons and guaranteed that he'll cut down on the picks this season.

    He's going to have to. The Cowboys' Super Bowl aspirations will only go as far as Prescott takes them.

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New York Jets: The Offensive Tackles

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    Duane BrownCooper Neill/Getty Images

    Super Bowl Odds: +1600

    The Jets are a Super Bowl contender based on the odds, but they have a lot of work to do to prove it. They haven't had a winning season since 2015. Now, they're in the top 25 percent of the league according to oddsmakers.

    That's what doing a three-time MVP at quarterback will do for you. The Jets have a promising young core that flashed the kind of talent to lure Rodgers to the Big Apple in the first place. It's easy to see why there's excitement.

    But the devil is always in the details and the details here are a questionable offensive line.

    Zach Wilson and the Jets quarterbacks had their flaws, but the offensive line did give up pressure on 23.3 percent of the dropbacks and gave up 42 sacks.

    Those problems aren't going away on paper. Duane Brown, 37, is returning from a shoulder injury and could provide an answer at left tackle. Mekhi Becton is getting a shot at right tackle after being kept away from the first team for the majority of camp.

    Robert Saleh has been open about his frustration with the offensive line as a whole throughout camp. They are running out of time to figure out answers before the season starts.

    If they don't find them soon, it could be the thing that keeps this team from reaching their sky-high potential.

Baltimore Ravens: Cornerbacks and Pass Rush

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    Every NFL Contender's Biggest Flaw That Could Derail Super Bowl Run in 2023 (10)

    David OjaboAP Photo/Terrance Williams

    Super Bowl Odds: +1800

    A great pass rush can cover for some suspect secondaries. Great cornerbacks can help compensate for a tepid pass rush.

    When you have questions concerning both aspects of the defense, that spells trouble.

    There's a lot of hype surrounding the Ravens offense with Lamar Jackson running Todd Monken's system. That's justified. But it might be masking the concern there should be for a defense that has a lot of questions.

    The primary pass rushers on the outside are Odafe Oweh, David Ojabo and Tyus Bowser. Oweh has just eight sacks in his first two seasons. Ojabo has only played in two games due to a torn Achilles last season and Bowser had just two sacks last season.

    It's a lot of projecting to believe this group could be a top 10 pass-rushing unit.

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    That wouldn't matter as much if the Ravens were elite in the secondary. They aren't on paper, though. Marlon Humphrey can be but he is recovering from foot surgery. Rock Ya-Sin, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Ronald Darby highlight the other options.

    Imagine that group going against Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd in a playoff game with little pass rush and it's not hard to see how the Ravens Super Bowl hopes could be derailed.


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