The NFL season is over. We are free from the Houston Texans for a few weeks. We waded through Lovie Smith’s cover two defense, Lonnie Johnson right field safety, Tytus Howard left guard, Tim Kelly bubble screens to nowhere, David Johnson flailing in the outside zone, and so many atrocities. Now the real fun begins. What’s your Super Bowl pick with the postseason set to begin?
This is the question I asked the masthead for this week’s groupthink. These are our responses:
The NFC is a game of rock paper scissors silly putty. The Los Angeles Rams can’t beat the Green Bay Packers, but the Packers can’t beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Buccaneers can’t beat the Rams, and the Cowboys can beat anyone and lose to anyone at the same time. It’s all dependent on matchups. The bracket is setup for a Bucs-Packers NFC title game, unless the Cowboys can spoil the Bucs, if they can get past the San Francisco 49ers.
The AFC is a Creed song. Their arms are wide open. The Tennessee Titans are healthy, have homefield advantage, and play football in a stupid way that isn’t quantifiable. The Kansas City Chiefs have been hungover this year, go into every game expecting to win, instead of doing the things needed to win. The Buffalo Bills are on a four game hot streak after falling to .500 in a heart breaking overtime loss to Tampa. The Cincinnati Bengals have turned into a high flying pass attack with an aggressive defense that oscillates between big plays and negative plays. And the rest? Don’t really move the needle for me.
For these reasons, I’m going to stick with my preseason prediction of Buffalo-Tampa Bay. Expecting the Cowboys to pull off the upset is asking for too much. Josh Allen has been crushing it the last five weeks, has found the level he played at last season, and the Bills offense has finally figured out the right run-pass balance. The one fear is Greg McDermott kicking their way out of it.
I had Packers-Ravens preseason. I think if Lamar was actually healthy and in, I’d be comfortable riding with that.
Packers-Bengals. I think there’s going to be some chaos this year.
I’m gunning for a Bengals/Cardinals SB, though I don’t think the chances of that happening are high. Mostly, I am rooting for players and not teams.
The Bengals are just a fun team to watch, especially that offense. Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, and Joe Burrow are a blast.
The Cards? Well, I guess that’s pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? I’d love to see Deandre Hopkins and JJ Watt get a ring, something they should have gotten with the Texans if this franchise had remotely competent coaching over the past decade.
Ah yes, I almost forgot that it was possible to watch a team and have legitimate hope that yes, that team might actually have a chance to win a Super Bowl. Funny...I...I didn’t think that was possible, but for the next few weeks, we get to see fanbases express intense emotions. Reason #45069 to despise the McEasterby regime: making the fate of the Texans seem as interesting as reading a yearly prospectus from your bank.
Anyway, as for the matchup to look for in LA (no, the Rams don’t figure to be there unless they can procure tickets), I feel like it slated to be a rematch of Super Bowl I (also played in LA), between KC and GB. Both teams are armed (so to speak) with quarterbacks that can get hot in the post-season easily and their respective defensive pass rushes, while not perfect, have the ability to get hot at the right time. For the 21st century NFL, if you can throw the ball and rush the passer well in the post-season, you will more likely than not be successful.
I’m going with Packers-Chiefs, and Packers would get the win in that scenario.
In my eyes, it’s pretty simple. The Packers offense has been elite for a few years now, and they finally have a reliable defense. It’s going to be VERY hard to stop this team, especially if they can make it past the cursed NFC championship game.
The Chiefs are definitely in a good position to make their third Super Bowl in a row, but defensive issues may cost them again. Things got better as the season progressed, but I still don’t think it would be enough to stop Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
My honorable mention is the Bengals, and I think they have a serious chance at making the AFC championship. Watching the culture grow has been really fun, and Joe Burrow was easily a top five 5 quarterback in the league towards the end of 2021. I have a good feeling this could finally be the year where Cincinnati isn’t written off (which starts by winning a playoff game - something Marvin Lewis could only dream of).
Before the season my best guess would have been a Bills against Bucs face off in a barn burner game. Now with the season behind me it becomes hard to tell which of these teams are truly Super Bowl bound.
My best guess today would more than likely be a Titans against the 49ers in a slow run, battle of the trenches type of match. It seems like Tennessee is getting healthy at the right time with a clear formula that matches up well against the three spread teams they could see in the playoffs (Chiefs,Bengals, and Bills). Whereas the 49ers seem like a well balanced wild card that can topple top seeds. They’ve already given Green Bay fits with their run game and would have the bodies to matchup up with a Tampa Bay team that doesn’t boast as much depth in receiving options as the year prior. The Cowboys just simply don’t have the offensive line to deal with San Francisco’s front which I think makes the fighting Shanahans a sneaky contender this January for Lombardi glory.