We picked our Super Bowl teams back in late May for the PFT Season Preview. I remember narrowing down my candidates by using two simple, if flawed factors.
1. Which quarterback/passing game did I trust? Offense is simply more consistent than defense. It’s not impossible to win without a great passing game, but it’s very tough. And it’s far less predictable.
The teams that best passed this test: New England, Indianapolis, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Dallas, and New Orleans.
2. My other factor: Who had a good chance to get a bye in the playoffs because of their schedule and division? You can make the Super Bowl without a bye, but it’s a lot harder to do.
The Patriots, Steelers, and Cowboys’ schedule knocked them out here. An NFC team didn’t leap out as the clear winner, but I like Atlanta to win 11 games and challenge the Saints for the NFC South crown. That left Green Bay in the NFC.
As my NBC playoff predictions show, I think the Vikings could fall right out of the playoffs. It won’t be a popular opinion, but I see a graying roster, mediocre defense, miserable looking quarterback, and a latent but potent team-wide distaste for a shaky head coach. I don’t see the NFC North being close.
In the months since I made that pick, the Packers have become the consensus pick to win it all. (This makes me sick because I hate picking that team. It means they probably won’t make it and that anyone smart enough to play the prediction odds should avoid taking them now. I still like the pick anyhow. Even though I also picked them last year.)
In the AFC, the Chargers and Colts were left. I picked the Chargers because Philip Rivers deserves the recognition Drew Brees got last year and it will happen one of these years. He’s that good. Their pass rush has me more worried than I was in May, but the decision was made. There’s no debating the Chargers schedule ranks easiest among division favorites.
San Diego has plenty of issues, but they should get a vastly upgraded running game, and taking Antonio Cromartie out of their secondary was addition by subtraction from all accounts.
Both the Chargers and Packers will have to blow teams away on offense because their defenses have soft spots. Sort of like the Colts and Saints in 2009.
We’re living in a golden age of quarterbacks and a Super Bowl victory by the Packers over the Chargers would help point it out. Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers aren’t Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but they don’t need to be. They are ready to write their own legacy.
Packers 31, Chargers 24.