By Gil Brandt - NFL Media senior analyst
In February, one team will triumphantly raise the Lombardi Trophy after achieving the goal that every team shares at the start of the season: winning the Super Bowl.
Of course, 31 other teams will not be doing that.
But which of the 31 non-Super Bowl winners will take it the hardest? A squad that is running out of time to win behind a quarterback defying Father Time? An organization that has made a flurry of aggressive moves to maximize a competitive window?
When I was vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys, we went to the playoffs 18 times in a 20-season stretch. We won the Super Bowl twice in that span -- but all other 16 trips to the postseason ended in a loss. No matter how successful you are, when you get beaten in the playoffs, it can feel like there's no tomorrow. Your season ends abruptly, in great disappointment, even if, by most measures, reaching the postseason qualifies as an achievement.
There are about 20 teams right now that look like they are in the playoff conversation. But some are facing higher expectations than others. I've isolated seven teams below for whom failing to win Super Bowl LIII would qualify as the bitterest of disappointments -- seven "Super Bowl or bust" squads with everything riding on the final outcome of the 2018 season, arranged in order of who would be most upset to miss their shot.
1) New Orleans Saints: Based on how this season has unfolded for the blistering-hot Saints, the 39-year-old Drew Brees might never have a better chance to win a second Super Bowl title. Brees has given us zero reason to think he'll stop playing at an extremely high level anytime soon. But all NFL careers are finite, and when you're almost 40 years old, you never know when the end is going to come. New Orleans has to do what it can to take full advantage of this moment. ...
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