NFL preseason and training camps are underway. As the regular season gets closer, there are several questions on the minds of fans. What teams are the favorites? Will the Raiders FINALLY have a winning team? Which teams will crash and burn this year? Which teams will be the surprise dark horses of the season? But the most important question is, which teams will make it to the Super Bowl?
In the NFC, the favorites have to be the Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals. The Packers and Cardinals locked horns in last season’s NFC Divisional Playoff round, leading to a dramatic victory for the Cardinals in overtime. The Panthers then got pummeled by the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game.
The Panthers should once again be strong behind Cam Newton, but they have a difficult schedule which includes games at Denver, Seattle and Oakland, home games against Kansas City, Minnesota and Arizona. With Aaron Rodgers at the helm of the Packers, they will continue to be contenders. Also, Jordy Nelson’s return to the team will boost an already high performing offensive. Couple their performance with an easy schedule and the team is primed for success. While the Packers will cause some trouble for opponents in the NFC, the Cardinals and Seahawks look to be two contenders in the NFC. With Russell Wilson behind center for the team and a defense that picks up any opportunity for turnovers they are a team to watch. The Cardinals will most likely be the conference Champions if they stay strong and focused during a grueling stretch of five road games during the last seven games of the regular season.
In the AFC, the attention will be on the New England Patriots, to see how they handle Tom Brady’s four game suspension. Without Brady, what could have been an easy season given the mediocrity of their division, looks to be a much daunting proposition. The team will need to win at least two of the games without Brady in order to be in a position to handle their much tougher end of season schedule. The AFC North should also provide three tough contenders. The Bengals, Steelers and Ravens, all look set to have winning seasons of 10 to 11 wins. The best team is going to be the one who is able to perform the best in head to head match ups with the other teams. Strong defense is the norm in the AFC North, so it will come down to which team able to field the best and consistent offense. The performance of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, especially in the final stretch of the season will determine who is the division champion.
In the AFC West, the landscape is different than last year. After their Super Bowl win last year, the Broncos have new leadership and a new quarterback. But, the team does have enough of the same tools and players as last year that they are in a good position for the year. They will be challenged by the Chiefs and Raiders this year, unlike last year. The Chiefs have an easy schedule which should place them in a position to make a playoff run. While the Raiders have created a much better all-around team through their off season deals and acquisitions.
The very early picks for the championship games are the Cardinals versus Seahawks in the NFC and the Patriots verses the Bengals in the AFC. Taking a stab in the dark, I’ll go with the Cardinals and the Bengals in Super Bowl LI. As the season gets under way and we get into the meat of the schedule, these early prognostications could very well change.
- 35575799 – light of american stadium: Gerald Keil