After last season’s New York Giants won the Super Bowl with a 9-7 record I’ve accepted that it is impossible to pick a Super Bowl record in the preseason. With the way the NFL is set up where on any given Sunday any given team can beat any other (with the exception of the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins), if a team can just sneak into the playoffs and get hot they only need to win 4 games to be champions. Even worse with Giants quarterback Eli Manning now having won two Super Bowls I can no longer claim in today’s NFL you need an elite quarterback to make it to the top.
Knowing this l not only have the cojones to attempt to name the twelve teams that will make the playoffs, but also who will be the last team standing. Do not use this post as a basis for any bets (but if you do please send me a finders fee of 10% of any winnings).
12) Houston Texans.
11) San Francisco 49ers.
Two teams with solid defenses and mediocre quarterbacks. Their greatest strengths are being in lousy divisions which ensure their playoff berths and a butt kicking in their first road playoff games.
10) Dallas Cowboys
9) San Diego Chargers
Nobody knows how to lose a big game like Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers and his Dallas counterpart Tony Romo. Everyone blames them for underachieving by not taking their teams to a Super Bowl, but I don’t think either should have such lofty expectations.. They’re both solid quarterbacks who take their teams to winning records almost every year, but not special enough to take their team to the next level (but if Eli Manning can do it why can’t they?).
8 ) New Orleans Saints
I was torn whether to put the Saints or the Atlanta Falcons in this spot. Their division, the NFC South is so good that I can only see one team making it out of the rubble. While the Falcons consistently put up winning records and the Saints Coach Sean Payton and defensive stalwart Jonathan Vilma are out for the year for their parts in putting bounties on players, New Orleans is still blessed with Drew Brees. Brees turns this team into an offensive powerhouse, but again a road playoff game will be their Achilles heel.
7) Chicago Bears
This Bears team is stacked. A bruising defense, a premier runningback in Matt Forte, a solid quarterback in Jay Cutler and a gift from the Miami Dolphins in Brandon Marshall. But to continue my classical references Marshall is a bit of a Trojan Horse. He will put up monster numbers when you don’t need it, but when the game is on the line, he will drop the ball. The Bears best hope is that they recognize this early and don’t let Marshall cost them in the money season.
6) Pittsburgh Steelers
5) Baltimore Ravens
Every year the two AFC North rivals batter themselves into each other with usually the Steelers coming out on top in the end. These aging behemoths still have the rosters to make them title contenders and smart coaches who get the most from their talent giving them outside chances to win it all.
4) Green Bay Packers
Last year they looked unstoppable racing out to a 15-1 record only to lose their first playoff game against the Giants. The Packers are a fast paced offense like New Orleans. The only difference being New Orleans plays in a dome conducive year round to an aerial offense. The Packers play on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field which slows down the game. Their best bet would be to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card and hope they only play in warm weather or indoor venues.
3) New England Patriots
I picked them last year to win it all and I still feel wary choosing anyone to outsmart Patriots head coach Bill Belichick or outthrow quarterback Tom Brady. They are also in a lousy division with an easy schedule that could ensure them home field advantage throughout the postseason. The defense though is untrustworthy. So many teams were able to score against them the last two years. Most times Belichick finds ways to hide the suspect defense, but an elite quarterback can take advantage of this flaw.
2) Philadelphia Eagles
I can’t believe I’d take them over the New York Giants, but isn’t coach Andy Reid due? In 9 out out of the 13 years of his coaching tenure his Eagles teams have made the playoffs and the only one of his rosters that had this much talent was the 2004 team that lost the Super Bowl. Reid is due for another Super Bowl loss to put on his resume.
1) Denver Broncos
They often say teams are one player away from winning a championship. That is rarely the case unless the player is Peyton Manning. Last year the Broncos made the playoffs with an 8-8 record due to their incredible defense and tout running game. Quarterback Tim Tebow got most of the credit “because he knows how to win”. In reality Tebow knows how not to lose. He is a great runner, rarely turns the ball over, but is an awful passer. Peyton Manning, however, really does know how to win with his cerebral precision passing. The only question is whether his once durable body can take the hits after missing the last season with surgery. I think sibling rivalry will get him through the pain. Peyton Manning is not ready to live in a world where younger brother, Eli, has more Super Bowl wins than his older brother. Of course, tell that to Dan Marino whose younger brother, Mauricio, has as many championships as Dan (and Mauricio is a figment of my imagination).