The NFL’s regular season is over and it’s time for the playoffs, that special three-week stretch that ends with the grandest of events — The Super Bowl.
For many fans, last Sunday bore witness to dashed dreams and disappointing finishes for their teams. For fans lucky enough to root for one of the 12 qualifying teams it marked the beginning of their team’s quest for greatness. Half of this year’s participants are returning to the tournament after making appearances last season, including the two teams involved in last year’s Super Bowl, Pittsburgh and Green Bay. The other half of the playoff picture consists of young teams, eager to make their mark on the scene and prove their worth.
Of the teams that were not involved in last year’s playoffs Detroit, San Francisco and Cincinnati impress me the most. While many analysts and fans don’t think Detroit’s youthful exuberance and offensive firepower will be enough to overcome the Saints’ arsenal of offensive and defensive weapons, I think that the Lions will be able to do more than just keep up with New Orleans in the Wild Card matchup.
The Lions will take the win, setting up a rematch with the San Francisco team that handed them their first loss of the season. Unfortunately for Detroit fans, I see the 49ers emerging victorious once again as San Francisco’s defense shuts down Mathew Stafford. San Francisco’s luck will not last for long though, as they will surely be eliminated in the NFC championship game by the explosive Green Bay Packers.
Cincinnati will also win its Wild Card game, using the prowess of rookie Andy Dalton and its offense to overwhelm the Houston Texans. The Bengals will face New England the following week and put up a decent fight. Their effort will not be enough to overcome the heavily experienced Patriots though, who will advance to the AFC championship game against Baltimore.
In the end I predict a Green Bay and Baltimore matchup for Super Bowl Sunday. Green Bay will attempt to win its second straight Lombardi trophy off of Aaron Rodger’s arm, while Baltimore will rely on the strength of its seasoned defense to get the job done.
So now the question is who will win? Many will logically side with the 16-1 Packers and their impressive offense. I’ve decided to follow my gut. I believe that Baltimore’s defense will be able to slow down Green Bay’s offense and get to Rodgers much like Kansas City did in week 15. Their stout defense coupled with Ray Rice’s explosiveness will be enough to secure Baltimore’s second Super Bowl win.
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