With the birth of any NFL season, Super Bowl predictions inevitably come to life as well. Analysts everywhere are looking five months into the future and predicting the outcome of the season.
Last season, the NFL gathered its top analysts, and none of them made the right call. In fact, many of the NFL “masterminds” were horribly wrong. Nine times out of 10, the predictions fell flat and included the Indianapolis Colts clinching their conference. Oddly enough, the Colts spent their entire postseason at home.
The odds of predicting an accurate Super Bowl matchup are pretty slim. Each NFL game already has an infinite number of factors that can affect the entire season: injuries, field conditions, or even a player skipping breakfast can have an impact.
In 2015, Blair Walsh served as a great example of how unpredictable an NFL season can be. The top ten kicker missed a 27-yard game-winning field goal that would have advanced the Vikings to the next playoff round.
With this said, two teams that have remained consistent and make great cases for the Lombardi trophy are the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers.
The AFC East for example has been dominated by the Patriots for most of the Brady-Belichick Era (circa 2000-present day). Many believe that Brady’s four game suspension will impact the team’s success, but they are incorrect. If anyone can turn a bad situation into a winning season, it is head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
The Patriots opened the season with a statement. To beat such a high caliber team like the Cardinals on the road is an accomplishment in itself, but to beat them without their starting quarterback, or their best receiving option Rob Gronkowski is a feat.
Starting with their defense, the Patriots have an array of talented defenders. Good pass-rushers Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard, linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, and they have a number of high performing defensive backs that include Malcolm Butler and Patrick Chung.
Aside from their defense, the Patriots have a dynamic offense with many weapons. They have a proven receiving core with Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and the newly acquired Martellus Bennett. The Patriots are reutilizing a double TE offense that they used back in 2011 with Aaron Hernandez. This offense was extremely effective and brought them to Super Bowl XLVI.
Regardless of where they play, who they start, or who they play against, the New England Patriots will always compete. The Pats will top their conference and compete in Super Bowl LI.
Moving to the NFC, the Packers look great this year.
Following the Brett Favre era in Green Bay (2007), Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have worked together and have made eight playoff appearances. The Packers have not missed the playoffs since 2009, and Rodgers has consistently remained as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
After the 2015 season, the Green Bay Packers are now looking for vengeance. With a disappointing playoff outing putting an end to the Packers’ season, Rodgers finished with the year with one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. He threw 31 touchdowns and had only 3,800 yards, numbers that were way below the former MVP’s standards.
Coming into this season, Rodgers is reunited with his favorite receiver Jordy Nelson and is now leading one of the most well rounded offenses in the league. The cheese-heads now have a strong receiving core with Randall Cobb, Richard Rodgers, and of course Nelson, and their offense also features running backs James Starks and Pro Bowler Eddie Lacy.
Looking at their defense, the Packers rank among the best. This defense features Pro Bowl linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Their defensive backs include Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Damarious Randall, and Sam Shields. They have a high-caliber defense with Super Bowl potential. The Green Bay Packers make a great case for topping the NFC.
Super Bowl LI is now five months away, and it will feature the New England Patriots against the Green Bay Packers. Both are great teams with veteran quarterbacks trying to make their last run at the title. Rodgers against Brady will be a stellar match-up. Two NFL super powers colliding for their last title in the foreseeable future. The Packers against Patriots, February.