A Packers-Ravens Super Bowl is in the CardsPosted:Sep 7th, 2010 1:26 am
As we get set to kick off a new NFL season, we find ourselves in prediction season. Who will reach the Super Bowl? Which teams will reach the post-season and who will fall flat?
It's no secret that the Packers are a very fashionable pick by most national "experts." 15 of 16 ESPN guys pick the Pack to win the North, with four saying they'll hoist the Lombardi trophy. I'd prefer to be the team that flies under the radar and sneaks up on people. But the flip side is, there's a reason those who know believe Green Bay is poised to take its game to another level.
I'm asked every week on the Fan why the Pack is being picked to overtake the Purple this year? The Vikes return virtually every starter and are built to win right now. The team is chock full of Pro Bowlers, yes, but also with players in the final year of their contracts. The window is still open a crack, but many believe they blew their chance last year when the stars aligned, the offense stayed healthy and the defense feasted on a weak schedule (like the Pack's did).
Everything has been a struggle this preseason for the Purple. Favre had to be begged by teammates to return. Sidney Rice was lost for half the season and Percy Harvin is a migraine away from being shelved for an extended period. Center John Sullivan has yet to suit up, causing two new starters on the offensive line. Defensively, rookie Chris Cook is injured, depleting an already thin secondary. The defensive line is stout as ever, but behind them there are question marks.
Meanwhile, the Pack closed 7-1 the final half of the season--a team learning how to play defense in Dom Capers' scheme and an offense learning how to win in the fourth quarter behind the emerging Aaron Rodgers. It's fair to assume the players will feel much more comfortable in the second year of the 3-4, allowing Capers to add more wrinkles. Offensively, tight end Jermichael Finley is ready to become a superstar and I'm guessing Greg Jennings will put up huge numbers with Finley drawing attention in the middle of the field.
Which brings us to this year. I think the Pack will win the North with an 11-5 record, one or two games ahead of the Vikes. Other division winners in the NFC: Dallas, New Orleans and San Francisco. My wildcards: Atlanta and Minnesota. In the AFC, I like New England, Cincinnati, Indy and San Diego, with the Jets and Baltimore claiming the wildcards.
I'm going with the Pack to knock off the Saints in the NFC title game (somehow) and the Ravens over the Colts in the AFC. Pack-Ravens reach Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.
Don't ask me to pick a winner. If I get the Super Bowl teams right, I'll have two weeks to pick a winner.