Over the last week, I’ve been working up division by division predictions across the NFL. But today, on the verge of full-scale NFL action breaking out, it’s time to finish the job and put it all on the line. After all, what are 32 predictions if you don’t run them down to one? So here it is, who’s going to New York City for the Super Bowl, in the order they’d play out via the standings I arrived at. As a bonus, I’ll throw in a few awards for a few guys as well, for good measure.
But before we take it there, here a recap on how it all should shake out:
- Redskins (10-6) 1. Packers (11-5)
- Cowboys (9-7) 2. Bears (10-6)*
- Giants (8-8) 3. Vikings (7-9)
- Eagles (4-12) 4. Lions (5-11)
- Falcons (13-3) 1. Niners (12-4)
- Saints (8-8) 2. Seahawks (11-5)*
- Buccaneers (6-10) 3. Rams (7-9)
- Panthers (5-11) 4. Cardinals (5-11)
- Patriots (11-5) 1. Ravens (11-5)
- Dolphins (7-9) 2. Bengals (10-6)*
- Jets (5-11) 3. Steelers (10-6)*
- Bills (4-12) 4. Browns (7-9)
- Houston (11-5) 1. Broncos (13-3)
- Colts (8-8) 2. Chiefs (7-9)
- Titans (6-10) 3. Chargers (5-11)
- Jaguars (2-14) 4. Raiders (3-13)
WILD CARD ROUND PLAYOFFS
Green Bay Packers over Chicago Bears
Seattle Seahawks over Washington Redskins
Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans over Pittsburgh Steelers
DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFFS
Seattle Seahawks over Atlanta Falcons
San Francisco 49ers over Green Bay Packers
Denver Broncos over Cincinnati Bengals
Houston Texans over New England Patriots
San Francisco 49ers over Seattle Seahawks
Houston Texans over Denver Broncos
Now before throwing it all on the line with the Super Bowl picks, let me back up and get some award picks for the season. It is impossibly difficult to select an MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive/Offensive Player of the Year before the season begins. So much goes into it, and it can change on a week to week basis. But, it’s Kickoff, so why not.
MVP—Aaron Rodgers: The Packers are leaning on him more than ever, and really, the team just behind him in the North via Chicago is the better overall team. But all things considered, the Pack will still take the North and it should come via a virtuoso performance from the league’s best QB.
Offensive Player of the Year—Peyton Manning: It is going to be a close call over Rodgers, Adrian Peterson and Andrew Luck, but there’s a chance that Peyton pulls off one of the great offensive efforts in league history. He’s got the tools, the right division and a pretty decent head start to do it all. 50-45 touchdowns should be in his sights.
Defensive Player of the Year—Richard Sherman: Doesn’t seem like a stretch to think that the Seahawks will have the best defense in the NFL. And Sherman is not only the ringleader on the microphone, but also the catalyst of the entire attack. QBs have no choice but to challenge him due to the depth of the team around him. And he will make the most of it in some pretty big games.
Offensive Rookie of the Year—Tavon Austin: The impact may not be immediate…but then again maybe it will be. With a home run threat like Austin, there is no telling when or where he may make an impact from for the Rams. And in a style similar to what Percy Harvin did a few years back, Austin could be on par for a huge debut.
Defensive Rookie of the Year—Kenny Vaccaro: The Saints defense will be challenged yet again, but this time they’ll be met by a legitimate threat to bring the ball right back at them. Vaccaro was the perfect addition to a team that needs to keep its pass happy QB schedule honest.
SUPER BOWL XLVIII –HOUSTON TEXANS vs. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
The Texans have been on the verge for a few years, while the Niners have rapidly reinvented themselves underneath Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick. With both teams touting strong defenses and rushing attacks, it could come down to who can find room to make the big play first. When it comes to that element, the Texans have the biggest threat in Andre Johnson, but the Niners have the most options to find room for one between Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and by that time, Michael Crabtree.
It will be tight and February in New York may not have the best conditions for a highwire act, and that’s where it favors the road options of the Niners with the ball in their hands, as well as the best linebacker group in football getting plenty of shots on Arian Foster and Ben Tate. This favors San Francisco, and it nets them their first Super Bowl since 1994.