Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sizing Up the Super Bowl XLI Champion

The NFL Season kicks off tonight (and not a moment too soon). A little of the shine has worn off tonights matchup with the news of Ben Roethlisbergers appendectomy earlier this week, but NBC will no doubt be the big winner in the ratings game.

It seems that there are prognostications everywhere, so it seems appropriate to offer up my picks to win Super Bowl XLI next February in Miami.

BALTIMORE RAVENS
For years the Ravens have been all about the defense baby. Ray Lewis is completely healed from last years injuries and will once again be worth the price of admission all by himself. Terrell Suggs has now established himself as a force to be reckoned with as well. Add this years First Round pick out of Oregon, Haloti Ngata and the Ravens defense is ready to rumble.

The problem has always been the QB position for the Ravens. Even in their Super Bowl Championship season a few years ago, they relied on Trent Dilfer to merely not lose the game for them. That problem has been solved this year. Enter Steve McNair who is also recovered from the back and ankle problems that plagued him in 2005. McNair and Lewis were fierce competitors when McNair was with the Titans. Now, they make are beacon leaders that are sure to make Baltimore a contender in 2006. Look for the Ravens to finish ahead of the Steelers for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.


SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
No Drew? No Problem. LT and Antonio Gates still anchor a potent Charger offense. Phillip Rivers carried the clipboard for two years under Drew Brees. Rivers is no slouch. The Chargers used a First Round draft pick in 2004 on him. He was four-year starter at NC State.

Shawne Merriman was a menace last year wreaking havoc everywhere he went. Dude was a ROOKIE! He only figures to get better. The Charger defense is a good one, but even more importantly, the coach is hungry. Marty Schottenheimer saw his good buddy Bill Cowher win his first Super Bowl this past February...now it Marty's turn. The only real obstacle in the Chargers way in the AFC West is Denver. Without a proven running game in the Mile High City, the Broncos won't be able to hold off the Chargers.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Perhaps Ralph Cramden said it best when he said, "One of these days Alice...One of these days!" Last year sure looked like the year until the Colts were short-circuited by the Chargers. Then in the playoff loss to the Steelers, the "if only" questions abounded. "If only the Colts hadn't had to deal with Coach Dungy's family tragedy." "If only Nick Harpers wife hadn't stabbed him in the leg before the game, maybe he could have returned that fumble for a TD." "If only Ben Roethlisberger had appendicitis prior to that game."

I like the Colts. I love watching Peyton Manning operate. What's not to love about Peyton Manning? He's a heckuva great guy. But can Rhodes and Addai make up for the loss of Edgerrin? Is Dungy focused enough this year to lead the team? Time will tell. The Colts have enough to win the AFC South this year, but will ultimately fall in the AFC Championship game to the....

CINCINNATI BENGALS
I love the underdog. I love teams that overcome years of losing to turn the tables on the NFL. Marvin Lewis has done exactly that in the Queen City. Carson Palmer is a MAN. Chad Johnson is proof that Keyshawn Johnson isn't even the best WR in his own extended family (they are cousins). OCHO CINCO! If you are asking Chad Johnson "Where ya at?" then you probably just need to look in the end zone to see what he has in store for this years TD celebrations. Rudi Johnson has become such a prominent runner in the NFL that the Bengals traded away Corey Dillon last year. TJ "whose yur mama" has been complementing Chad Johnson on the other side of the field since they were catching passes at Oregon State.

CHAMPEENSHIP!

This team is fun to watch and probably would have beaten the Steelers in the playoffs last year if not for the season-ending injury to Carson Palmer. Look for the Bengals to outlast the Ravens and Steelers to win the AFC North and make it all the way to the Super Bowl. The "Champeenship" that they will have to settle for will be the AFC Chamionship however, because the winning team in Super Bowl XLI will be the...

CAROLINA PANTHERS
Too many weapons. Offensively you have Jake DelHomme connecting with Steve Smith and the lesser Johnson (Keyshawn). DeShaun Foster is about to become a STAR in the NFL this year now that he is healthy and no longer has to share carries with Stephen Davis. In college, DeShaun's nickname was "Smoke" as in that's all you saw when he ran past you. Should Foster need a breather (or get hurt) the Panthers drafted DeAngelo Williams in the First Round out of Memphis. Williams set the Division I-A all-time mark with 7,573 all-purpose yards (breaking Ricky Williams record while he was at Texas). He rushed for more 100-yard games than any other Div I-A rusher in history (34, breaking Archie Griffin and Tony Dorsett's record).

Defensively, Julius Peppers is without rival. Because he gets double-teamed so often, Mike Rucker and Kris Jenkins have become studs as well. Shaun Williams leads a deadly defensive backfield.

John Fox is another coach who has done an absolutely amazing job turning the Panther's franchise around. Remember that George Siefert led Carolina to a 1-15 record just five years ago. They won their first game that year and then lost the remaining 15 games on the schedule. OUCH!


In 2006 nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina on Sundays. Make no mistake about it, the cats will return to the Super Bowl this year with unfinished business on their mind. Of course the worst thing about a Bengals-Panthers Super Bowl XLI matchup? I'm gonna have to find two new underdogs to root for in 2007. Lions and Jaguars anybody?

2 Comments:

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Josh said...

The real question is: Who dey, who dey, who dey think gonna beat them Bengals? The answer to this, of course, is: Nooooooooooobody. Upon answering this question, you must then ask: How do you stop number 85? This is a question with no real answer because so far, it hasn't been done.

 
At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Jim Meyer said...

I dislike the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and Steelers. I would also dislike the 49ers except that I grew up there and they currently suck so they at least get sympathy. This combination of dislikes obviously makes me a life-long Cowboys fan. I think you are too, but you are still in the closet, since these same teams rate fairly low in your hierarchy.

No other team can seriously vie for #1 status with me but the following have and are making runs at #2....Seattle (Lofa Tatupu), Arizona (Matt), and Detroit (Mike WIlliams). I can only feel sorry for Troy Polamalu. Of course, you forgot to mention that on any given Sunday, the Trojans could and would beat many of the teams you list. UCLA has a decent women's volleyball team (don't they)?

Fight On!

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home