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Before the lid is opened on the 2010 NFL season, a Super Bowl prediction if I may…
Everyone is gaga over the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens this season, which probably means that game will not happen.
As far as the Ravens and their cousin, the New York Jets are concerned, I don’t think they have the weaponry or field general to get it done.
For some reason, everyone forgets that Bill Polian killed the era of the “game-manager” following the ’03 AFC title game and the “reinforcement” of the illegal contact rules.
Following that game, only quarterbacks with the last name of Brady, Roethlisberger, and Manning have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl.
The translation is simple. If you have a quarterback that can carry your team at a moment’s notice and not lose the game, you’re in good shape. If not, your ceiling is the conference championship game.
In my world, that theory makes the Ravens and Jets null and void in ’10.
If Mark Sanchez or Joe Flacco is playing any of the aforementioned three quarterbacks for a Super Bowl berth, do you believe any of them would have the temerity to win the game?
Yes, I’m fully aware Flacco went into New England and beat the Pats in the playoffs last season. However, he played that game on auto-pilot thanks to Ray Rice. Then, one week later, the Colts ended Baltimore’s season.
As for Sanchez, he seems like a nice kid. Yet, he almost played the Jets out of the playoffs last season before Curtis Painter intervened.
He is not going to make THAT leap in year two. Mark Sanchez is not a part of the team’s identity. In fact, during the whole Darrelle Revis saga, did you ever hear anyone say, “well, if Revis doesn’t come back any time soon, Sanchez should be able to carry us”?
The only way one of those teams gets to the Super Bowl is if they somehow meet each other in the AFC title game.
Thus, the emergence of Flacco and Sanchez will have to wait another year.
Don’t get me wrong, they are good but not ’85 Bears good.
Alas, that leaves me with the big three of Pittsburgh, Indy, and New England.
I’d like to go Pats here since Pittsburgh will miss Big Ben for four games and Indy is coming off of a disappointing Super Bowl effort.
I don’t trust New England’s defense quite yet though. If they are any good, clearly New England has a chance to go the Super Bowl with an offense that should be sensational.
Pittsburgh will be in the mix if Troy Polamalu stays healthy and if Big Ben returns to form. Somehow, I don’t think those two things are happening. Plus, their offensive line might be worse than that mess that somehow won it all in 2008.
Thus, we’ll go with the robotic Indianapolis Colts. They are programmed to go 12-4 every year with their robotic head coach and robotic quarterback. They aren’t human I tell you.
AFC Champion: Indianapolis Colts
In the NFC, the same hysteria is swirling over the Packers.
Unlike their AFC mates, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid on this one.
I think the Saints are going to be a grizzly bear again this season but some of the breaks they caught last season (Vikings/Favre turnover meltdown, home teams blowing double digit leads to them) will not come quite as easily.
The stress and strain of being the defending Super Bowl champion will show up enough to cost them home-field advantage, which for New Orleans means everything.
And then there is Green Bay…
Their defense is an obvious question mark considering they gave up 51 points in their playoff loss to the Cardinals.
That offense will be too much though for anyone in the NFC to handle.
NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers
As much as some media outlets are trying to will Peyton Manning towards another Super Bowl victory, I don’t think it will happen again this year.
While I think they’ll have enough to get there, something always pops up with them. One year it’s Bob Sanders, another year it’s Bill Belichick’s evil defensive gameplan, another year it’s Hank Baskett’s failure to recover to an onside kick…you get the point.
In Dallas, Texas, they’ll be done in by the right arm of Aaron Rodgers.
Super Bowl champion: Green Bay Packers