Good luck discovering a consensus with regards to Super Bowl favorites this season. Eighteen members of The MMQB/SI NFL employees took a crack at predicting the postseason, and every voter’s bracket is under. As for who we expect goes to Minneapolis in February, nobody bought greater than half the vote.
AFC CHAMPION: Patriots (9 votes), Chiefs (5), Steelers (four)
NFC CHAMPION: Eagles (9), Seahawks (four), Rams (2), Vikings (2), Saints (1)
SUPER BOWL LII CHAMPION: Eagles (four), Patriots (four), Steelers (three), Chiefs (2), Rams (2), Vikings (2), Seahawks (1)
I’m all-in on the Rams, which might be fairly harmful. The franchise hasn’t completed over .500 since 2003. Their coach simply started shaving in May. Also in May: Their quarterback seemed like a bust. But I see what I see. I see a sensible and high-powered offense that may defend the quarterback and is as scary on the bottom as it’s via the air. I see an imaginative coach with an excellent grip on his crew. I see a voracious entrance seven with an enormous star (Aaron Donald) taking part in higher than his rep. I see a crew within the final three weeks that has received three, seven and three time zones away from house, respectively. (Did you realize the Rams received their final three straight by double-digits at 1 p.m., 10 a.m and 10 a.m. on their physique clocks?) The highway factor will turn out to be useful in the course of the playoffs, in my calculation, as a result of the Rams might properly must win in a hostile atmosphere towards a wonderful crew like Philadelphia to win all of it. But will that basically matter? This crew is 2-Eight on the Coliseum for the reason that return of the franchise to Los Angeles, and the Rams are 5-Zero away from house this 12 months. As for climbing Mount Belichick, I am positive some sensible man on the market will level out that, on the day that Bill Belichick coordinated the Giants’ protection that shut down John Elway in Super Bowl XXI, Sean McVay was 1 12 months and 1 day previous, and the way on earth might the nice Belichick ever lose to a man lower than half his age? My counter: The coaches will not be placing on pads that day. The Rams, besides at quarterback, shall be deeper and higher on Super Sunday.
Yes, the Steelers have had drama with Ben Roethlisberger. And Antonio Brown. And Martavis Bryant. And that has fully overshadowed what has developed over the past two months—Mike Tomlin has his most full crew since he and the Steelers went to their final Super Bowl seven years in the past.
Before the Eagles’ win towards the Broncos, we wandered the tailgates exterior for our Football in America collection. We discovered precisely what you’d count on in Philly: bad followers who consider this actually, lastly may very well be the 12 months … but additionally are ready for the proverbial different shoe to drop. That early 2000s run of three straight losses within the convention championship after which a loss within the Super Bowl nonetheless stings. But, on the midpoint of the season, the Eagles are the most effective crew in soccer, with a younger quarterback who’s taking part in past his years, expertise in all three phases of the sport and a tight-knit locker room with leaders of all ages. The Patriots do a greater job than anybody masking and overcoming their weaknesses, but when the Eagles get a Super Bowl XXXIX do-over, a depleted New England protection could have bother stopping Wentz and Co.
If it comes down to those two groups, the matchup to look at could be Chiefs tight finish Travis Kelce vs. this Seahawks secondary, and Seattle has been gashed not too long ago by some proficient tight ends. I might guess on Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman to treatment this by season’s finish. Shut down Kelce, and the Chiefs do not look so powerful.
This most unpredictable NFL season yields a equally uncommon playoff bracket, with the NFC half significantly sturdy from prime to backside. You might make an argument for half a dozen groups as the most effective guess to win the Super Bowl. But this is the neatest factor: guess on the Patriots. Between home-field benefit, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, they’re the most secure, most blatant alternative among the many contenders. They aren’t inexperienced within the postseason just like the Eagles and the Rams. Their protection is taking part in higher. And if none of that’s compelling sufficient, simply keep in mind: Brady. Belichick. They’ve earned the good thing about the doubt, and in a season with no clear favourite, that is sufficient for me.
It’s nonetheless a quarterback-driven league. Both of those offenses have expanded in 2017 to turn out to be far more vertical and aggressive. Typically, that might imply so much would trip on how properly their respective O-lines might maintain up, however Brady and Wentz are two of the uncommon quarterbacks who can transcend poor safety. (Ideally, they will not must.) Philly’s protection is dominant up entrance. The Patriots’ D shouldn’t be practically as far off as everybody thinks.
In the AFC, Kansas City beats Pittsburgh in a rematch from final 12 months’s postseason however falls in need of the defending Super Bowl champs in Foxboro, with late-game Brady heroics carrying the Patriots to a different AFC title. The NFC sees Seattle get to its third Super Bowl in 5 years because of unbelievable winter play from Russell Wilson, who now has a reliable left sort out. But Brady’s magic continues in Super Bowl LII, and he wins his sixth Lombardi on this championship rematch.
The Eagles proceed to roll via the NFC, and the Chiefs discover their footing within the AFC. The Chiefs are the higher all-around crew, and Alex Smith outplays Tom Brady once more within the AFC Championship, simply as he did all the best way again in Week 1. That offers us … drum roll, please … the Andy Reid bowl. We get two weeks of pregame hype about Reid and his mentee Doug Pederson, in regards to the glory days of McNabb and Westbrook and Terrell Owens in Philly. Version 2.Zero may be higher. Smith, Kareem Hunt, and Tyreek Hill lead the Chiefs to the title.
It looks like dishonest to go along with essentially the most established groups within the playoff image, however it additionally looks like we’re destined for yet another Belichick/Carroll; yet another Brady/Wilson. In my thoughts, it’s one of many few methods the NFL season ends within the good graces of its dissatisfied, drained fan base. Super Bowl XLIX was the best sporting occasion I’ve ever seen in particular person, and a rematch with all events nonetheless of their prime could be one thing particular. This choice is taking loads of gambles; bets that Jimmy Graham will begin catching the ball once more and Blair Walsh eliminates the yips. Bets that Tom Brady stays wholesome and Matt Patricia spackles his protection collectively. But is that any extra wild than playing on a Ben Roethlisberger resurgence, or the Eagles having the ability to maintain this monstrous run?
In a season as up for grabs as any shortly, Pittsburgh’s protection is rounding into form whereas the offense, although nonetheless having bother delivering the knockout blow (Pittsburgh has but to attain 30 factors in a recreation this season), has the most effective trio of weapons within the league in Bell, Brown and Big Ben. I wouldn’t put something previous Carson Wentz and the Eagles, as we watch a brand new star and a brand new energy emerge within the NFL, however Pittsburgh’s expertise and protection will in the end be the distinction in a Super Bowl pitting the established crew towards the upstart.
The crew with all of the quarterbacks over the crew with The One, supplied Brady makes it this far, his being 59 years previous (or no matter we have all been instructed a thousand instances now). I am unable to clarify how the Pats get right here, however when has it ever been the case that we knew in November how Belichick will flip round a disastrous protection? Never. O.Ok., actually I am simply going all in on Zimmer’s D, which must cease Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Brady within the situation I paint. That and I do not belief a single crew on the market. None of ’em.
I can’t not choose the crew at present boasting eight wins to go all the best way. The Carson Wentz-led offense is firing on all cylinders, and based mostly on his efficiency final week towards the 49ers, Jay Ajayi goes to be an enormous increase on the bottom for Philadelphia. The solely factor that we all know in regards to the AFC proper now’s the truth that the Patriots and the Steelers are the heavy favorites to look within the championship recreation. No matter who advances to the Super Bowl, it will likely be two prime offenses squaring off—the sport will come all the way down to the defenses, and the Eagles have the sting.
It has been the 12 months of the Eagles from the beginning. They have been successful with out their finest cornerback (Ronald Darby), their most versatile offensive weapon (Darren Sproles), their finest linebacker (Jordan Hicks), their finest offensive lineman (Jason Peters) and even blew out the Broncos with out their finest receiving goal (Zach Ertz). They have a prime 5 line of defense, a prime 5 offensive line and a prime 5 quarterback. They have crushed groups on subpar offensive days and on subpar defensive days, and have blown groups out when each have clicked. And Doug Pederson has Andy Reid’s creativity with a freshness to it that’s enjoyable to look at. In one of many extra gorgeous turnarounds in NFL historical past, they’re the crew to beat and it would not even look significantly shut at this level.
I virtually picked the Patriots just because I nonetheless actually don’t need to guess towards Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But are they a greater crew than the Steelers or the Chiefs or the Eagles? No, they aren’t. So I’m going to go along with logic over intuition. Andy Reid has created one of many extra dynamic and thrilling offenses within the league this 12 months, matched solely by Doug Pederson and the Eagles. We would get Reid exorcising previous demons and beating the crew that fired him. We would get Alex Smith fully rewriting the narrative on his profession. We would get Travis Kelce finish zone dances and Kareem Hunt doing Kareem Hunt issues. This is the enjoyable Super Bowl that the NFL wants to avoid wasting what has been an extremely not enjoyable season.
As it stands, solely a handful of groups have proven the power to play full soccer on either side of the ball. The Steelers are literally not a type of groups—they’re 20th in factors per recreation and have but to attain greater than 26 in a single contest. But I count on Ben Roethlisberger and his many weapons to hit their stride on the proper time. And I’m extra comfy penciling two Hall of Fame quarterbacks into the Super Bowl somewhat than a pair second-year surprises.
After the Eagles demolished Denver, 51-23 in Week 9, cornerback Jalen Mills checked his cellphone at locker. He had a textual content from his grandma, Wanda Lewis, watching from Dallas: “Did Denver forget to show up to work today?” Granny Wanda is an astute observer, and although Denver shouldn’t be prime competitors by any means Philadelphia has been soccer’s most constant crew this season. This is lastly the Eagles 12 months to win all of it. They’ve bought an important one at crucial place in Carson Wentz, and are full in all three phases of the sport. Halfway via the season, the Eagles personal the most effective report in soccer, and I do not suppose they will tail off within the second half. (And a facet word: Those Super Bowl viewers who’re torn as to who to root for can simply cheer, “Go Steagles!” a nod to the non permanent merging of the groups throughout World War II. How enjoyable!)
The NFC Divisional matchup between the Cinderella Los Angles Rams and the 15-1 juggernaut Philadelphia Eagles is the true Super Bowl LII. Goff’s Rams edge Wentz’s Eagles in an all-time traditional. Old-man Drew Brees’ final finest shot at a title ends in a half-empty Los Angeles Coliseum. The Kansas City Chiefs grind via three powerful playoff video games, overcoming the Bills, Steelers and the Patriots. Weary from the chilly and brutal highway to the Minneapolis, the Chiefs fall brief and the once-dead Rams franchise wins its first Lombardi trophy since 1999, and Tinseltown is now house to the Oscars and the 2017 Super Bowl Champs.
Just think about what’s going to occur as soon as they’ve lastly settled the QB state of affairs two months from now. The Vikings have been biking via pbaders, and it hasn’t mattered as a result of this protection is so good. (Not to say, the improved offensive line and sneaky good receiving corps has been greater than ok.) In January, Xavier Rhodes confirms his standing as soccer’s finest cornerback by placing the clamps on Michael Thomas, Dez Bryant and (exhibiting off his range after shutting down two large guys), speedster Brandin Cooks. Meanwhile, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Co. overwhelm Tom Brady’s shaky safety. As common, all it takes is a play or two from Tedase Bridkeewaternum, and in entrance of a raucous-ish house crowd (the wine and cheese people nonetheless take up loads of seats) the Vikings convey house Minnesota’s first Lombardi Trophy.
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