In an NFL Super League, Which 8 Teams Would Make the Cut?

The entirely fictional NFL Super League would feature four teams apiece from the AFC and NFC

April 22, 2021 8:17 am
bill belichick, patrick mahomes and aaron rodgers
Safe to say these three would make the cut

If there’s one group of owners in pro sports who would be able to turn a blind eye to the idea of a Super League featuring elite soccer teams from England, Spain and Italy collapsing like a house of cards in pursuit of profit, it is the collection of billionaires who lord over the 31 NFL franchises located outside of Wisconsin.

Often criticized for their greed — even by other billionaire sports owners — the overlords of the NFL could certainly determine at some point that it would be in their best interests to create a football Super League (even though they really already have one, since the NFL is a profit-sharing scheme where there is no danger of relegation due to poor play; on the contrary, the format of the NFL draft rewards it!).

Were that to happen, even though there have been zero indications it is even a remote possibility, which teams would make the cut? Purely as a thought exercise — a little fantasy football if you will — here are the eight franchises (four apiece from the AFC and NFC) we think would be the best picks to kick off the inaugural season of an entirely fictional NFL Super League. We selected them based on profits, performance and prestige and popularity. Credit to Zolak & Bertrand of 98.5 The Sports Hub for starting the conversation.

Kansas City Chiefs

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 4
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 2
Franchise value: $2.5 billion
Face of the franchise: Patrick Mahomes

Their case: A playoff team for the majority of the last decade under head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs have played in the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons and are a solid best to represent the AFC once again in February in LA at SoFi Stadium. After signing the richest contract in NFL history in the middle of a pandemic, former MVP Patrick Mahomes is guaranteed to be a Chief for the next decade, and his presence alone should make Kansas City a perennial Super Bowl, or Super League Bowl, favorite.

New England Patriots

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 11
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 5
Franchise value: $4.4 billion
Face of the franchise: Bill Belichick

Their case: Though the Patriots floundered last season after losing the GOAT at quarterback, New England does not figure to be down for too long if head coach Bill Belichick really is as much of a gridiron guru as we’ve been led to believe. Even if he isn’t, New England’s nearly unprecedented run of success over the past two decades has bred legions of both fans and foes of the franchise. With all eyes on Belichick, the Patriots continuing to have success or failing miserably would merit national attention.

Pittsburgh Steelers

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 8
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 0
Franchise value: $3 billion
Face of the franchise: Ben Roethlisberger

Their case: Though the Steelers have not made it as deep in the playoffs as they would have liked over the past decade, Pittsburgh is always a threat to make the postseason and has never finished with a losing record under coach Mike Tomlin. That includes seasons during which the team has been forced to play without franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger due to injury or suspension. Usually formidable on both sides of the ball, the Steelers are a legacy franchise with fans across the country.

Denver Broncos

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 8
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 2
Franchise value: $3.2 billion
Face of the franchise: Von Miller

Their case: Though the last five seasons have not been great in Denver, the Broncos finished in first place in their division throughout the first half of the decade, and dating back to the ’90s, have the pedigree of a championship organization. With their star of that era — former quarterback John Elway — now calling the shots and former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller winding down his career in Denver, the Broncos are a solid, if not spectacular, organization. Also, games in the high altitude at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver always offer added intrigue.

Dallas Cowboys

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 8
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 0
Franchise value: $5.7 billion
Face(s) of the franchise: Jerry Jones

Their case: Even though they haven’t made it past the second round of the playoffs in a decade and have only advanced to the postseason in three of their last 10 chances, the Dallas Cowboys are still America’s Team. And as long as owner Jerry Jones is running things in Big D, they always will be. Even when the Cowboys are bad, they have a rabid national following, because Jones knows how to make headlines and build a brand. With a likable franchise quarterback in Dak Prescott and an always massive payroll, the Cowboys should be in the mix for the foreseeable future. If they’re not, that’s a story too.

New York Giants

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 5
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 1
Franchise value: $4.3 billion
Face of the franchise: Saquon Barkley 

Their case: Another franchise with fans spread across the U.S., the Giants are the top football team in the No. 1 media market in the country, New York City, which also happens to be home to the NFL’s official headquarters. Even though the Giants have been fairly bad since winning the Super Bowl a decade ago, they have an intriguing quarterback in Daniel Jones and one of the league’s most dynamic running backs in Saquon Barkley. Down recently but never really out, the Giants are one of the premier organizations in the NFL and one that people care about.

Green Bay Packers

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 5
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 0
Franchise value: $3.05 billion
Face of the franchise: Aaron Rodgers

Their case: Always a topic of conversation when gunslinger Brett Favre was playing quarterback for the team, the Packers remained one of the NFL’s most-hyped teams when reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers took over under center more than a decade ago. Though Rodgers hasn’t been able to lead Green Bay back to the promised land, he’s come close, and the Packers are always in the championship discussion. A franchise more entrenched in NFL history than perhaps any other, the Packers have Lambeau loyalists spread across the 50 states.

San Francisco 49ers

All-time Super Bowl appearances: 7
Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 seasons: 2
Franchise value: $3.8 billion
Face(s) of the franchise: George Kittle and Nick Bosa

Their case: Already popular due to their ridiculous run of success with Joe Montana and Steve Young, the 49ers have gained fans over the last 10 years thanks to an early-decade run of success under coach Jim Harbaugh that saw Colin Kaepernick emerge as a national story. Now coached by whiz kid Kyle Shanahan, the Niners are one of the NFL’s most well-rounded teams when healthy, and were a few plays away from winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago. With electric and identifiable playmakers on both sides of the ball in tight end George Kittle and defensive end Nick Bosa, the 49ers are likely a quarterback away from being a Super Bowl favorite, and might be one anyway.

Honorable Mention

Baltimore Ravens: Always tough and sometimes a pretty good football team, the Ravens have made one Super Bowl in the last 10 seasons — and they won it. With former MVP Lamar Jackson at quarterback and veteran coach John Harbaugh running things on the sidelines, the Ravens ($2.975 billion) do have some national appeal, and usually make an appearance in the national spotlight in the postseason.

Los Angeles Rams: Somewhat of a confusing franchise due to all the time in St. Louis, the Rams are back in Los Angeles to stay and are far more of a draw nationally and locally than their LA counterparts, the Chargers. Offensive-minded head coach Sean McVay finally has a competent quarterback to run things under center in ex-Lion Matthew Stafford, and LA’s defense, which willed the Rams ($4 billion) to Super Bowl LIII, is always good. There’s also the fact that share an owner — in Stan Kroenke — with Arsenal FC, aka one of the soccer clubs that just attempted to break away and start a Super League.

Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders ($3.1 billion) have neither star power nor have they played particularly good football over the past decade, but the fanbase of the Silver and Black is rabid and far-reaching. Also, due to the notoriety the team gained when Al Davis was alive and running the show, there is a good deal of anti-Raider sentiment across the nation. Plus, Vegas. ‘Nuff said.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Worth a paltry (by NFL standards) $2.28 billion and usually one of the league’s worst teams, the Bucs have been a punching bag for the majority of their existence. That changed last year when the winningest quarterback in NFL, history, Tom Brady, took his talents to Florida and won the Super Bowl. The Bucs are in good shape to keep winning and gain more of a national following as long as Brady is still on the team, and like the Rams, they have an owner with a declared interest in Super Leagues — Malcolm Glazer’s family also oversees Manchester United, the most valuable English soccer club.

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