The Atlanta Braves made their hometown fans very happy when the franchise won the 2021 World Series.
Not only was the title the Braves’ first since 1995, but it gave the City of Atlanta its first “Big Four” (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) title in 26 years. (The Atlanta United won an MLS title in 2018, and the Georgia Swarm won an NLL title in 2017).
The city’s fan base had gone through a lot in the decades prior to that 2021 World Series win, including an Eastern Conference Finals loss by the Atlanta Hawks earlier in 2021, multiple collapses by the Braves in the 2020 National League Championship Series, and an all-time blown opportunity by the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
The Braves’ win got some other teams’ fans wondering about a question that those in Atlanta had been accustomed to asking in recent years: When is it going to be our turn?
Plenty of franchises around MLB, the NBA, NFL, and NHL have gone through multiple decades without a championship to their name, and their fans feel they have suffered long enough.
Others, like the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Lions, and Vancouver Canucks, have yet to win a World Series, NBA Finals, Super Bowl, or Stanley Cup, respectively.
So, which team in each league has the best chance to end their championship drought in the near future? Here are some of the better picks across MLB, the NBA, NHL and NFL:
- MLB: San Diego Padres
If there was ever a time for the Padres to win the World Series, it’s now.
The franchise has a once-in-a-lifetime superstar in Fernando Tatis Jr., and loads of talent around him in the lineup with All-Stars like Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth.
Pitchers like Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and even Joe Musgrove made fans feel like 2021 could’ve been the Padres’ year, but the team underwhelmed amid a historic year for NL West rivals like the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The MLB postseason has been dominated by the same batch of teams in recent years, with three of the four League Championship Series teams carrying over from 2020 to 2021. It isn’t a situation where the usual MLB playoff contenders are going to let the Padres sit at the table; San Diego is going to have to bust the door down themselves.
The window will continue to close as each year of Fernando Tatis Jr.’s historic contract passes, and it’s turning into a now-or-never scenario for the Padres’ World Series chances.
- NBA: Phoenix Suns
The Suns were just two wins away from winning their first NBA Finals in franchise history when they squared off against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. Then, they lost four straight games to hand the Bucks their first title since 1971.
Phoenix had rolled through the Western Conference side of the 2021 playoff bracket, beating the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Clippers en route to their NBA Finals berth.
In the end, the franchise only got a Western Conference championship trophy to show for their efforts.
The pieces are still in place from that Finals run, with Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton leading the charge in the early parts of the 2021-2022 NBA season.
But, the 36-year-old Paul’s career isn’t going to last forever, and Ayton’s morale seems to be at an all-time low amid stalled contract negotiations.
The Suns seem to have a better chance than the Atlanta Hawks or Los Angeles Clippers to break their championship drought. But, that could easily change if Phoenix’s core can’t get things going in the next year or two.
- NFL: Buffalo Bills
A lot of the NFL teams that haven’t touched the Lombardi Trophy haven’t even come close to a Super Bowl appearance. The Buffalo Bills represent an odd anomaly, considering they actually hold the record for consecutive Super Bowl appearances.
Unfortunately for fans in Buffalo, the Bills set another record by losing in not one, not two, not three, but all four of those Super Bowl appearances, even with a 13-3 regular-season record in two of those seasons.
Since that historic stretch ended after the 1995 NFL season, the Bills have only made it to the playoffs five times. In those five postseason appearances, they made it past the Wild Card round once, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 AFC Championship Game.
It’s easy to feel discouraged if you’re a Bills fan, but there’s plenty of reason for those in Buffalo to be excited.
Josh Allen has emerged as a true franchise quarterback, a big improvement from the uncertainty he provided as a rookie in 2017.
Tom Brady’s departure from the New England Patriots in 2020 turned the Bills into an instant favorite in the AFC East, and it seems the division is theirs to lose going forward.
With the Kansas City Chiefs in flux in the AFC West, a battle elsewhere for the top spot in the AFC North, and a lackluster field in the AFC South, the Bills could easily find themselves in the Super Bowl in the next two or three years.
From there, it’s just about finding a way to actually win that last game of the season for the first time in franchise history.
- NHL: Colorado Avalanche
The lone team on this list to actually win a championship in the franchise’s history, the Colorado Avalanche’s drought definitely isn’t as bad as some of their NHL counterparts.
The team won the Stanley Cup during the 2000-2001 season, with just a 21-year drought to be sad about. That number pales in comparison to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 54 years since the 1966-1967 season, the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks’ 51 years since their inceptions for the 1970-1971 seasons, and the Philadelphia Flyers’ 47 years since the 1974-1975 season.
But, if we’re talking about the best chances to end a long drought, look no further than the Avalanche.
The Avalanche finished tied for the top spot in the West Division at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 regular season, and were actually tied for the top spot in the league’s overall standings, as well.
The franchise only made it to the second round of the playoffs, but lost to the Vegas Golden Knights, the very team they tied with in the West Division a few weeks prior.
With things back to normal for the 2021-2022 season, hockey fans believed that the Avalanche would be in good shape to make a run towards the Stanley Cup for the first time in two decades.
A 4-4-1 start through the team’s first nine games didn’t stack up well to the 7-1-1 start the St. Louis Blues had, or the 6-2-2 start the Winnipeg Jets put together.
But, with top center Nathan MacKinnon, top defenseman Cale Makar, and new goalie Darcy Kuemper at the helm, NHL fans feel that the 2021-2022 season represents a “Stanley Cup-or-bust” opportunity in Colorado.
Time will tell if the Avalanche will be able to pull it off, but with loads of youth throughout their roster, Colorado should be in the mix for years to come either way.