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NFL Super Bowl hopefuls
By DYLAN MALONE
I don’t normally make generic picks when it comes to the NFL playoffs, but it was hard not to with the Packers and Patriots coming into the final week playing some of the most impressive football in the league at the best time. I had to pencil in Green Bay versus New England as my Super Bowl picks with Rodgers leading the Cheeseheads to the first NFL team to post back to back SB championships since the team I thought they’d be playing against; Tom Brady’s Patriots. The Pats pulled out the 2004 and 2005 Super Bowls.
I never would have guessed that the Giants would mirror what they did in the 2009 playoffs and knock off another “invincible” team. Rodgers had the Packers looking like a finely tuned machine the entire season and even handed the Giants a loss in the regular season. The game, to the Giants’ credit, was the closest anyone had got to them yet, but when the playoffs roll around, I thought for sure that Green Bay would have used their week off bye to prepare for Eli Manning’s passing attack and the Giants’ big defensive line.
By beating the mighty Pack, Eli and company have earned themselves a date with the other team that got no credit coming into the playoffs, the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners beat the most popular team not from Green Bay, the New Orleans Saints. Entering the game against San Fran, Drew Brees and his squad were the favorites to win after ending the Detroit Lions’ hopes of advancing in the playoffs after making it to the post-season for the first time since 1999. A quarterback threw a touchdown pass in the last minute of that game to win and it wasn’t Drew Brees, it was Alex Smith, whose name is the personification of how unknown the Niners are this year.
A look at the quarterbacks left in the playoffs show a list of well knowns in Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco...and Alex Smith? San Fran’s run through the regular season went about as unnoticed as Brett Farve’s “talks” with the Chicago Bears when Jay Cutler went down this season. Now they have been dissed again, this time by the Giants, as it was said on a radio program by certain Giants’ defenders that they were relieved to know they were playing the Niners and not the Saints led by Drew Brees. Now that Green Bay is out, I’m going to go against the grain and pick San Fran with the “upset” even though I feel they have the edge offensively with Frank Gore and company.
Ironically, the team that the Pats beat to get to the semi-finals this season, the Denver Broncos, were the last team before New England to win back-to-back SBs as they performed the feat in John Elway’s final two seasons stapling the lefty’s legendary status. Despite getting trounced by a second helping of Patriot defense this year in the divisional playoff round, Tim Tebow has proved he belongs in the NFL as a starting QB no matter how unorthodox his style is. They did, after all, say the same thing about Mr. Elway before he took off as Denver’s favorite son.
The Ravens beat the Texans to earn the right to travel to Foxsborough taking their shot at Tom Brady. If any defense has a shot at getting Brady off his game it’s Ray Lewis and the Ravens. The problem for Baltimore is on the offensive end. Joe Flacco had trouble against Houston throwing the ball and was bailed out in the second half by the efforts of Ray Rice running the ball. For the Ravens to dethrone my other Super Bowl pick New England Patriots, they need at least one defensive score to give Flacco some support. Bill Belichick will have his Pats’ D come out and hound Ray Rice and the run game to force the Ravens’ QB to throw the ball.
In the end I think that Tom Brady will make it to his fourth Super Bowl as a starting quarterback with a win against the Baltimore Ravens. On the other side, San Francisco will disrupt a potential rematch of the 2009 SB by stifling Eli Manning and the Giants.
As much as it pains me to say so, I think that the Pats will come away with yet another Super Bowl victory. I’m just sorry it has to be in Indianapolis. The Niners will earn the respect of the league but not the Lombardi trophy. Predicted score NE 45, SF 38.
Tell me your Super Bowl picks. Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this blog for all to see at decaturdailydemocrat.com under “blogs.”