Teams who may break Super Bowl drought next year
Posted: Friday February 9, 2007 12:06PM; Updated: Friday February 9, 2007 6:13PM
For the first time in seven years, the Vince Lombardi Trophy resides today in the nation's heartland, where the Indianapolis Colts call home. It took the Colts 23 years to bring a Super Bowl championship to their relocated home, but less than a week after their coronation, there are already 31 other NFL teams plotting to dethrone them.
Though the NFL offseason has just begun, here are five teams we think are well positioned to follow Indianapolis' lead and win their first Super Bowl title next February.
San Diego -- By virtue of my now oft-mentioned "theory of unfinished business,'' which helped me predict last May that the Colts had a Super Bowl ring in their future, the Chargers are next up to get the big confetti shower. For two years in a row, the team with the best record in the NFL has had a bitter disappointment in the playoffs and then came back and won the Super Bowl the following year.
Pittsburgh went an NFL-best 15-1 in 2004, lost in the AFC title game at home in the postseason, and came back to win it all in 2005. Indy went an NFL-best 14-2 in 2005, lost at home in the postseason, and came back to win it all in 2006. San Diego went an NFL-best 14-2 in 2006, lost at home in the postseason, and ... well, you get the idea.
But despite San Diego's loaded roster, there are some disturbing trends to take note of if you're a Charger fan, and they all revolve around coaching. First, there's the whole Marty Schottenheimer-working-in-the-final-year-of-his-contract thing. Schottenheimer, of course, barely kept his job last month, but then refused a rather hollow one-year extension offer from San Diego because it came with a buyout clause. He and general manager A.J. Smith have a tenuous relationship at best, and at worst it's a tinderbox waiting for a match to be struck. If these two make it through the year without a blowup, it'll be an upset.
Then there's the Chargers' coaching staff, which has been fairly well decimated by defections in recent weeks. San Diego lost both of its talented coordinators to head coaching jobs -- Wade Phillips to Dallas, and Cam Cameron to Miami -- and also saw tights end coach Rob Chudzinski (who likely would have replaced Cameron) leave to become Cleveland's offensive coordinator, and linebackers coach Greg Manusky resign to accept the San Francisco defensive coordinator position.
The last time we saw a coaching talent drain like that, New England's Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel were leaving their coordinator jobs to become head coaches at Notre Dame and Cleveland, respectively.
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