Rank the four remaining teams from least likely to most likely to raise the Lombardi when it's all said and done. Explain why?
Jason: My least likely team is the Seahawks. Russell Wilson is going to be an excellent quarterback as he continues to learn and grow, but a signal-caller can't throw the ball to himself. Without decent targets in the passing game, his upside is limited. The Pats would be third on my list. I love what they've done so far, but I can't rank them higher than this based on the number of playmakers they're missing. I hope I'm wrong. The second-most likely team for me is the Broncos. Peyton gives any team a decent shot, but I'm not sure I like his chances against an elite defense in the cold. If he gets put on his ass a few times, I think he'll fold. And the team left standing? That would be the 49ers. They have the best defense left in the dance, and they might be the healthiest team left in the dance. A good QB coupled with a good running game and three good options in the passing game should equal points against either opponent they might face in the Super Bowl.
Rick: I rank the four remaining teams: Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, and New England. The Seahawks have a defense that just pressures the quarterback relentlessly and a power running game in Marshawn Lynch. Yes, I do think at times that they put too much in the hands of Russell Wilson, but he is still capable of making the big throws when he has too. Denver is the more talented team on paper than the Patriots, especially on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, it’s a toss-up, but I give the Broncos the slight edge on paper. The 49ers are hot at the right time and have a nice balance on offense plus a defense that can bring the heat like they did against Cam Newton. New England, even though they are #4, have a great chance to knock off the Broncos on the road. All four teams are obviously talented enough to get to New York/New Jersey.
Derek: I think that whoever comes out of that brutal Seattle/San Fran slugfest is going to be the favorite in the Super Bowl. I think the Niners are the better of the two teams right now, but Seattle's home field may be the great equalizer. I'll go with Seattle #1 and San Fran #2, but not by much. Taking all bias out of the equation as to what will happen on Sunday, out of the two AFC contenders, I think the Patriots have the better shot of the two to actually win the Super Bowl if they advance. The Patriots have a puncher's chance if LeGarrette Blount has a big day or if the weather is nasty. I just don't see Manning's aerial attack being enough against either of these raging defenses, and if the weather's bad it will just be worse. I also don't see the Denver defense holding up, where the Patriots secondary should be able to keep things competitive. So all that being said, New England is #3 and Denver is #4.
Raj: This is extremely tough because all 4 teams at this point are equallybdeserving of the trophy. But since that's impossible and the questionbdoesn't give that option, here's what I believe:
4.) Denver – The offense for Denver has been amazing this seasonbwithout a doubt. But the defenses the played along the way were mostlybmediocre or trash. The two remaining NFC teams all have elite defensesband that will be a problem for them, assuming they get through NewbEngland. When Manning's offense can't do well, they're relying ontheir defense, which has been subpar all season.
3.) Seattle – This might be a shocker but I think Seattle deservesbthis spot because come Super Bowl time, they won't have their crowd to pose as a distraction to the opposing team. On the road, they are more of a defensive than offensive team. On the offense, we have now seen that Russell Wilson is kind of afraid to throw the ball. Well, at that
point, all the opposing team's defense has to worry about is stoping Marshawn Lynch. After that, the AFC offense will find some holes in that Seattle defense, which will probably end up costing them the game.
2.) San Francisco – I am very scared about this team. Why? Well the reason is simple. Like New England, they are on a mission to knock down every team that comes in their way. Critics have bashed Harbaugh, Kaepernick, and everyone else on this team because they were expected to do better than last year. We see that even though they didn't, the
criticism motivated them to finish 12-4 and march through frigid Green Bay and temperate Charlotte. Their story is just like New England's. The only difference is that they have a much more reliable defense that will come up clutch in the NFC championship and play even better in NJ.
1.) New England – This is a New England fan blog, how do you not put them first? All bias aside, this honestly has been their year. It takes a fan of this team to truly understand this roller coaster of a season. Injuries on both the offense and defense, Welker's departure, the increase in rookies, and the Hernandez situation have costed them dearly. But this underdog team has been underestimated since week 1 and every week they prove the critics and haters wrong. A large part of that has to go to Bill Belichick for a masterful coaching performance this season and to Tom Brady for making sure the offense doesn't give up (one can see that with each miracle win this season). With all that has happened and how they have responded to adversity, New England is destined to go all the way. Nothing that is thrown at them, in my opinion, will divert their quest on lifting the lombardi