The Super Bowl’s Top Contenders
By Adam Vickers, Sports Editor
The road to Super Bowl XLVIII is a long and treacherous journey; it starts in August and ends in the glory days of February and January. This year’s road to the Super Bowl features some knockout offense and defenses as well as a couple teams that have just found a way to win. First, we will look at the top contenders, and then we will look at the rest of the teams at the X-factors. The top contenders for the Super Bowl this year include The San Francisco 49ers, The Denver Broncos, The New England Patriots, and the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ners are last year’s runner up to the Super Bowl, losing to the Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens. San Francisco’s record this year was a solid 12-4, which gave them one of the best records in the NFL. Lead by third year veteran quarterback Colin Kapernick, the 49ners are a prime candidate to win the Super Bowl this year because they are a team that is well balanced. Offensively, San Fran averages just over 25 points per game as a result of a strong pass game and the third best rushing offense in the NFL. The stars to watch out for in the San Fran offense included Colin Kapernick, Vernon Davis, and Frank Gore. Defensively, San Francisco was the third best defense in the league only allowing 17 points per a game. Stars to watch out for on defense include Ahmad Brooks, Justin Smith, NaVorro Bowman, and Patrick Willis.
The Denver Broncos finished the season tied for the league best record of 13-3 and for that reason is a major contender for the Super Bowl. Lead by future hall of fame QB Peyton Manning, Denver boosts a league best offense producing 37.9 points per a game. Denver’s offense is one that could go down as one of the best in the history of the NFL. Denver’s highflying offense passed for over 340 yards per a game and move the ball more than 450 yards per a game, easily best in the NFL. Players to watch out for are Peyton Manning, Demayrius Thomas, and Julius Thomas. Defensively, Denver is nothing special, but because of their ability to outscore, Denver has become a big contender for the Super Bowl.
The New England Patriots have won a number of Super Bowls with QB Tom Brady and coach Billy Belichick. The Patriots are not a star-studded team, nor do their stats reflect a star offense or defense. The reason New England is contenders for the Super Bowl is because they are winners. The Pats ended the season with a solid record of 12-4 and have the coaching and quarterback ability to win big games. Whenever the Pats are in the playoffs, you can never count them out because they know what it takes to win in the playoffs and because they have Tom Brady
The Seattle Seahawks were touted as the leagues’ best team throughout the season. The Seahawks finished with a record of 13-3, tied with the Denver Broncos for best in the league. Like division rivals, San Francisco 49ners, The Seahawks have a strongly balanced team. Offensively, the Seahawks are dynamic with a QB who can run and pass, creating big plays from nothing and running back Marshawn Lynch who is one of the best in the business leading the Seahawks to the fourth best rushing team in the NFL. Defensively, the Seahawks are the best in the NFL allowing less that 15 points per a game, tops in the NFL, allowing only 243 yards per a game, also best in the NFL, and only allowing 172 yards passing per a game, again best in the NFL. Put simply, defense wins championships and for the best defense in the NFL the Seahawks are a team surely looking to be in the Super Bowl.
One thing that is certain about the road to the Super Bowl is that nothing is certain, like playoffs in any sports the contenders are not always the winners. Sometimes you find special players who can make all the difference, these players are the X-factor. The teams with the X-factor are the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, and Green Bay Packers.
The Carolina Panthers’ X-factor is Cam Newton, Newton is the innovated the running QB winning rookie of the year in by running for 14 touchdowns setting an NFL record all while throwing for 4,000 yards and breaking Peyton Manning’s single game record pass for over 400 yard in a single game.
Philadelphia Eagles X-factor is LeSean McCoy, McCoy is one of the best running backs in the NFL and helped bring Philadelphia’s rush game to number one in NFL. McCoy is fast and very elusive and holds this years rushing title of 1,607 yards.
Indianapolis Colts’ X-factor is Andrew Luck. Lasy year, Luck broke Cam Newton’s record for passing by a rookie QB throwing for 4,158 yards. Luck has lead the Colts to an 11-5 record, beating some of our big contenders including the Bronco’s, 49ners, and Seahawks.
The Green Bay Packers’ X-factor is none other than Aaron Rodgers; Rodgers is a former NFL MVP and has been out most of the season. Rodgers is among the best QB’s in the league and has been injured for most of the season. Although he has been injured most of the season, the Packers have found a way to stay in the playoff picture but with the return of Rodgers the Packers become a legitimate contestant for the Super Bowl.
One thing is certain; with the Super Bowl right around the corner is anyone’s game. Although underdog teams that have not been mentioned, they are not the most likely candidates to win the Super Bowl but having made the playoff they still have a chance. If one thing is certain, it is that having a chance is all anyone needs and it will be exciting to see what big upsets await in the upcoming NFL playoffs.