by THOMAS O’SCANNELL Staff Writer
With the 2014 NFL playoffs just a couple weeks away, it looks like the New England Patriots will be lifting the Super Bowl trophy when the smoke clears.
As it stands after week 15, the three teams all tied for the best record in the league are the Patriots, the Denver Broncos, and the Arizona Cardinals (all have 11 wins and three losses).
The Cardinals have the best record in the NFC, and therefore home field advantage in the playoff). Head-to-head tie-breaking dictates the Patriots will have the home field advantage over the Broncos – the Patriots defeated the Broncos 43-21 in week ten – which is one of the reasons why the Patriots’ have a strong chance of going all the way.
Home field advantage means that, in this case, each of the conference playoff games the Patriots will play will take place in Foxboro, Massachusetts in the Patriots’ home stadium, Gillette Stadium. The Patriots have been unstoppable at home this year, possessing a 7-0 record when playing at Gillette, including that convincing 43-21 triumph over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in week 10.
This more or less means, should the Patriots acquire home field advantage, they should be able to get past everybody in their way. With games against the Jets and the Bills to close out the season, the Patriots are pretty much guaranteed this coveted perk.
Of course, the only way to win the Super Bowl is to beat an NFC team in the finals in Arizona. NFC teams looking formidable to make a bid for the trophy are the Seattle Seahawks, the Green Bay Packers, and the Arizona Cardinals themselves.
The Patriots have yet to play Seattle since the Seahawks’ recent resurgence as a heavyweight, but Tom Brady is more than capable of ripping apart Richard Sherman’s Seahawks defense.
Sure, the Packers did best the Patriots in week 13. Keep in mind, though, that they only lost 26-21, and it took place in Green Bay. Lambeau has been a huge fortress compared to the likes of Gillette, so I think it is more than safe to assume the Patriots can conquer Aaron Rodgers’ Cheeseheads on a neutral ground.
Then there are the hosts, the Cardinals. They could be a safe bet to win, but I just do not think they can do it. They have shown they their offense is not the best, winning by scores consistently in the 10s and 20s. With Brady able to score 43 against the Broncos, the Patriots can outscore the Cardinals.
Another reason the Patriot will win is because of the simple fact that this is the best and most complete Patriots team since their last Super Bowl in 2004.
True, people may argue that the 16-0 of 2007 is the best. People forget, however, that the Patriots have always relied on Tom Brady to get the job done, as their defense has not been the best in a long time. With two tough cornerbacks in Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner, the Patriots now have a complete team. A prolific offense and an equally sufficient defense sounds like a legitimate Super Bowl contender to me.
Of course, opinions vary from individual-to-individual.
Sophomore Sam D’Urso says, “The Green Bay Packers are my pick to win the Super Bowl. The reason is because they have a stellar defense and great receivers, not to mention a future Hall of Fame quarterback. They are a young team and are hungry for another Lombardi trophy.”
I will not argue anything in the second and third sentences. However, the Patriots match or exceed Green Bay in all respects. Plus, the Packers have proven they can be upset by teams significantly behind them, as was the case in their recent 21-13 defeat to the Buffalo Bills.
Another supporter of the Packers’ bid to go all the way, sophomore Achal Shah, says, “I do think the final is going to between the Packers and the Patriots. However, I think the Packers are going to win it. In addition to having an unstoppable quarterback like Rodgers, the whole team has just played phenomenal football this season.”
Yes, the Packers have played great this year. They have come all the way from a 36-16 defeat to Seattle in week one to defeating the red-hot New England Patriots in week 13. However, I would not go as far as to say Aaron Rodgers is unstoppable. He has been shut down in specific games of the season, like in the loss to Seattle, and in week 3, when his offense could only manage one touchdown in a 19-7 loss to divisional rivals, the Detroit Lions.
There is simply no better candidate to win the Super Bowl this season than the Patriots. With the Super Bowl taking place on February 1, 2015, only time will tell as to who will be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy high in Arizona.
Who do you think will win the Super Bowl? Tell us in the comments below!