Winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal every year. Four weeks into the 2021 NFL season, a clearer picture is beginning to develop around which teams are legitimate contenders to do so. With 14 weeks still remaining, things can, of course, still drastically change. Heading into week 5 there are five teams that may look solid so far, but are more Super Bowl pretenders than contenders at this point.
Super Bowl Pretenders: Cleveland Browns
The modified "ground and pound" style of head coach Kevin Stefanski has worked great for the Cleveland Browns. They have one of the very best running back groups in the NFL with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Their rushing attack is elite and they have a solid defense to go with it, a vicious pass-rushing combination of Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.
The Browns strategy is to dominate the ground game and play solid defense. That approach has worked, keeping them either ahead or within striking distance of every game. The issue is quarterback Baker Mayfield has not consistently shown that he can elevate his play in big moments. He has shown flashes of it, but until he can be more consistent, the Browns are Super Bowl pretenders.
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Super Bowl Pretenders: Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are another Super Bowl hopeful team that like to control games with their rushing attack. They have been the most dominant team in the regular season over the last few seasons. Lamar Jackson is the best rushing quarterback of all time. He is setting records and has already won an NFL MVP.
The problem is that Lamar Jackson has not been able to deliver in the passing game in the postseason. Until he figures that part of his game out, the Ravens are Super Bowl pretenders. Their style of play has consistently earned them a playoff spot, just not a Super Bowl yet.
Super Bowl Pretenders: Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders' Super Bowl chances took a big hit in Week 4 when they were handed their first loss. They were outclassed across the board by Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. Still, the Raiders Nation believes they are real contenders this year.
Even before they lost their first game, the Raiders were shaky. Two of their wins came in overtime after trailing in regulation. Late game heroics are great for team confidence, but are not sustainable. Derek Carr is playing some of his best football right now, but that is not enough to make the Raiders a legitimate Super Bowl threat just yet.
Super Bowl Pretenders: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are considered by most to be Super Bowl contenders every year. That's because they have one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, they consistently make it to the playoffs before continuously falling short.
Aaron Rodgers does always give the Packers a shot, but the team has not succeeded to the Super Bowl. They didn't do much in the offseason to improve the team from last year, so this year could be more of the same story.
Super Bowl Pretenders: Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals were not considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders before the season began, and their extremely hot start didn't change that. They are the only remaining undefeated team, and they sit on top of the Power Rankings. Kyler Murray is playing like an NFL MVP.
It's a long season and it is not even halfway over yet. The Cardinals still have a long way to go and a lot to prove before they become a true threat to win the Super Bowl. They faded as the season went on last year, so they will look to change that narrative this season.