For nearly two decades in New England, sports fans have seen parades, duckboats, victory cigars, celebrations, and countless tears of happiness. In what has felt like an almost annual tradition since 2001, either the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, or Patriots seem to often be the last team standing in their respective sports. The last team to win a championship was in 2019 when the Patriots won the Super Bowl. For most cities in America, going three years without winning a title would not be a bad situation. But in the spoiled city of Boston, a couple of years without bragging rights is considered a drought. Maybe even cause for panic.
The question now becomes, who’s going to be the first to bring glory back to this champagne starved region? Here’s which teams have the best odds.
At the beginning of the 2021-2022 season, no one saw what was coming. Particularly after how poorly the team played during the first couple months of the year. But in what has been a remarkable turnaround, the Boston Celtics are now considered one of the favorites to hold the Larry O’Brien trophy. They are easily Boston’s team most likely to celebrate before anyone else. But why? How? For months now, the Celtics have been dominating. Compiling a ridiculous 31-10 record since January 10th, and claiming the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, the team has mostly looked unstoppable. Beating bad teams and good, the Celtics have rarely seen a close game. Blowing opponents out has become their trademark. Mental toughness their philosophy. Jayson Tatum has become a Top 10 superstar, and his surrounding cast has evolved into a well-oiled machine. Marcus Smart is having his best season as a pro, and is the NBA’s defensive player of the year. Jaylen Brown has finally established himself as the Robin to Tatum’s Batman status. Role players like Grant Williams, Al Horford, and Payton Pritchard have turned into key pieces for the team’s success. Deadline acquisition Derek White, has become the ideal 6th man, fitting seamlessly into the rotation. Head coach Ime Udoka has been mentioned as a possible Coach of the Year nominee, as has first year president of basketball operations Brad Stevens for Executive of the Year. Just about everything post January 1 has turned green. The only stumbling block came at the end of March, when starting center Rob Williams suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee. Initial reports had Celtics fans panicked, fearing the worst. Perhaps he would miss the rest of the season, derailing the team’s hopes for a championship run. However, in recent days, the organization has given great hope to those who support the team, saying he could be back as soon as the start of the second round of the playoffs. If the team is fully healthy, and with a top seed already secured, they are positioned to make a deep run towards Banner 18. If it doesn’t happen this year, they are well on their way to competing for a title for as long as Tatum and Brown remain in Celtic green.
The 2021 Boston Red Sox weren’t supposed to make the playoffs, heck they weren’t even supposed to be good . And they certainly weren’t supposed to bring excitement back to Fenway Park. But to the surprise of many, they did all three, making it within 2 games of the World Series. With a very similar roster in 2022, this squad has as good a chance as any to party come October. Now it’s not all puppy dogs and ice cream within Red Sox Nation. Ace Chris Sale is hurt yet again, and likely won’t pitch until at least the All Star Break. No one knows what fans will get from starters like Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, or Tanner Houck. The losses of team and fan favorites Kyle Schwarber and Eduardo Rodriguez certainly hurt. Schwarber was as natural a fit in a Red Sox uniform as any that have come through Fenway Park in decades. E-rod, who averaged 17 wins in his last 3 seasons in Boston, was a key part of the rotation. The bullpen is also weaker than a season ago. Arms have been lost, and pieces have been shuffled. Even manager Alex Cora went so far as to acknowledge publicly this spring training, that it was the team’s biggest weakness. Additionally, the division in which they play only got stronger from a season ago. The rival New York Yankees, the young and talented Toronto Blue Jays, and annual powerhouse Tampa Rays, each added talent and depth to their rosters leaving many to predict a sox fourth place finish. But here’s the good news. An already powerful lineup became even more formidable with the addition of star infielder Trevor Story this offseason. With the likes of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, and Story making up the heart of the order, this offense is going to MASH. They very well may outscore the entire league in runs scored when all is said and done, and average pitching may be enough to keep the ship afloat. To that end, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has the resources to add both a starter and bullpen arm when the time is right, if he believes in his team come deadline time. Doing so, would immediately catapult the Sox to contender status as they head into the stretch run. Cora is one of the top managers in baseball. This lineup is one of the best in the game. The pitching does have the pieces, they just have to fit into place. Almost tasting the World Series last year, the team will be motivated. With health and a little bit of luck, there is no reason the 2022 Boston Red Sox can’t win it all. And if they don’t, they have the ability to compete for years to come. With highly touted prospects Tristan Cassas, Marcelo Meyer, Jay Groome, and Nick Yorke in the pipeline, and the resources to extend the contracts of stars Devers and Bogaerts, the Sox could and should be contenders for the next decade.
In the sport of hockey, unlike others, it’s not always the best team that wins. Making it somewhat unpredictable which preseason favorite will be the last team standing, other variables often go into raising the Stanley Cup. If a playoff team gets a hot goalie, or has an incredible run of puck luck, you have all the ingredients to chase a championship. All that said, you do need talent, chemistry, and experience. Luckily for the 2022 Boston Bruins, they have all three. Currently sitting 6th in the Eastern conference and holding 95 points and 45 wins to their name, the Bruins are where they want to be. With 8 games remaining they find themselves in as good a position as any to make a deep playoff run. If healthy, top weapons Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastranak are as good as any. Their defenseman have been outstanding as of late, and with the trade deadline acquisition of star blueliner Hampus Lindholm, the B’s have to feel great about that group. Charlie McAvoy and Lindholm make one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the NHL, and have looked terrific together. In net, Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have both been outstanding at different points of the season, and whoever is hotter come playoff time, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will ride. In playoffs years past, secondary scoring has haunted the Bruins. With General Manager Don Sweeney surprisingly not adding a forward at this year’s deadline, this again should concern Bruins fans. Players like Jake DeBrusk, Taylor Hall, Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle will have to score when the big guns aren’t. If one of the goalies stands on their head, some unsung heroes put the puck in the net, and the defense stays healthy (a big question mark in recent days), this current roster is good enough to win it all. But with the core another year older, and captain Bergeron perhaps in his final season, this could be the last real shot at a Cup for a while.
With 9 Super Bowl appearances and 6 Championships in the last two decades to their name, it’s hard to believe the New England Patriots are the farthest away from winning a title of all the Boston teams. But they are. The greatest player of all time is no longer the quarterback. Perhaps the best tight end ever is no longer wearing blue and red. The defense has more holes than ever before. But perhaps the primary reason the Patriots find themselves farthest away from a title? The competition. The Patriots are a good team. But not great. Finishing 10-7 last year and making the playoffs with a first year quarterback was a good step for a team coming out of the Brady years. Unfortunately good in the NFL, more particularly in the AFC in 2022 and beyond, won’t win you championships. The rest of the league has drastically improved. Just within the AFC East alone, Mac Jones and the Patriots must face perennial MVP candidate Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills twice a year. The Miami Dolphins significantly improved their offense this offseason by adding the most dangerous wide receiver in the game, Tyreek Hill. With rookie sensation Jaylen Waddle as his counterpart, and speedsters Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert added to the backfield, an already tough Dolphins squad will be difficult to leapfrog. That’s just the division. The rest of the conference has also significantly improved. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs may have lost Hill, but he’s still Patrick Mahomes. And he still has the best Tight End in the league in Travis Kelce. Andy Reid is annually one of the best coaches in the NFL. An already talented Denver Broncos roster got their missing piece this offseason, adding star Quarterback Russell Wilson. The Las Vegas Raiders, in a stunning move, acquired future Hall of Famer Davante Adams to pair with Hunter Renfroe and Darren Waller. The Cleveland Browns shocked the rest of the league by securing controversial yet pro bowl Quarterback Deshaun Watson. Add to the mix the powerhouse Tennessee Titans, much improved Los Angeles Chargers, newly led Matt Ryan’s Indianapolis Colts, and last year’s AFC Super Bowl representative Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots have a lot of work to do if they want to even be mentioned as a contender or even a playoff team. It could be years before the Patriots have a shot at hoisting another Lombardi.