Top 5Super Bowl Contenders for 2010-2011
by Jeff Hochman
Lets take a look at my top contendersin random order to win this year’s
Super Bowl in Dallas, TX.
Anytime a team that has won 12 or more games in seven straight seasons has to be taken seriously and losing in the Super Bowl will have this team on a mission. Remember, the Colts suffered their first loss to the Jets, 2915, a game in which HC Jim Caldwell made the controversial decision to rest his starters after the team took a slim lead rather than keep them in to play for a chance at a 160 season. Indianapolis finished the season at 142 following a loss to the Bills in which they rested their starters with the stated purpose of having their team healthy for the playoffs. They reached the Super Bowl and played good enough to win but fell apart late in the 4th quarter.
The offense will always be able to move the ball as long as Peyton Manning is at QB. The offensive line is built for the passing game as they protect Manning (having a quick release helps too) with lots of time but they tend to struggle in the running game. Joseph Addai did have 13 TD’s last year and second-year RB Donald Brown will be more of a factor this year. The defense is fast and with Bob Sanders returning they should crack the Top 10 defenses in the league.
Bottom Line: The Colts have polished weapons at every position and with Peyton Manning as your QB you will always have a good chance to win. After losing in the Super Bowl last year you can be sure the Colts mean business in 2010-11.
Prediction: 12-4 (1st Place AFC South).
Dallas Cowboys: 8/1
The Cowboys clinched their second NFC East title in three years and were the 3rd seed in the NFC Playoffs. Six days later, in the wild-card round of the playoffs, Dallas played the Eagles in a rematch of week 17. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles for the first Cowboys’ postseason win since the 1996 season. Dallas ended their playoff run after a divisional playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings in which they got blown out big time.
Dallas is loaded this year and like all teams will need to stay relatively healthy if they want to host their own Super Bowl. Tony Romo threw for over 4,000 yards and has a plethora of talent to throw too. If the Cowboys decide to run the ball they have three excellent backs to choose from. Felix Jones is actually 5 pounds heaver than Marion Barber this year. Tashard Choice is the Cowboys best all-around back and would start for most teams.The offensive line does a great job at opening holes in the running game but they can be slow at pass protection. Doug Free should step in nicely for the departed Flozell Adams. Flozell has led the league in False-Starts so the Cowboys will save some yards this year. The defense is big, fast, and Wade Phillips does a great job at creating mismatches. The Cowboys will be a Top 5 defense this seasonafter running the 3-4 for three straight years.
Bottom Line: The Cowboys have a lot of motivating factors going into this season. The way last season ended and that the Super Bowl will be in Dallas. Look for the Cowboys to be a powerhouse this season. You can expect the largest crowd ever to watch a Super Bowl this coming February.
Prediction: 11-5 (1st Place NFC East)
Green Bay Packers: 8/1
The Green Bay Packers were my NFC sleeper team in 2009-10. They made me look good going 11-5 in the regular season. The season ended with an overtime loss in a wild card shootout at Arizona, 51-45.
Green Bay became the first team in league history to boast a 4,000-yard passer (Aaron Rogers), a 1,200-yard rusher (Ryan Grant), and two 1,000-yard receivers (Donald Driver & Greg Jennings). Everyone is back again this season and with another season of runningMike McCarthy’s complex offense under their belts, they should be just as good if not better in 2010-11. The Packers offensive line should be better than last year. They allowed 50 sacks on Aaron Rogers and that’s too many. Green Bay runs the same exact 3-4 defense as Dallas. What makes the Packers tough on defense is their speed. They have some of the fastest lineman and linebackers in all of football.
Bottom Line: The Packers will play the 11th easiest schedule as their foes went 125-131 (.488) last season. With a loaded offense and very fast defense this team is poised to make a deep run into the playoffs in 2010-11.
Prediction: 12-4 (1st Place NFC North)
New England Patriots: 10/1
After missing the playoffs in 2008, the Patriots rebounded with a 10-6 record last season. With the third seed in the AFC Playoffs the Patriots faced the Ravens at home in the Wild Card round. The Ravens opened a 240 lead in the first quarter and the Patriots eventually lost 33-14.
Tom Brady is now two years removed from knee surgery and should improve on last year’s stats. Having Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Torry Holt willalso help. I just read that Torry Holtsuffered an injury in campand could be out for the year. I still like their depth and motivation going into this season.The offensive line is one of the best in all of football. Tom Brady was sacked only 16 times and the Pats had 19 rushing touchdowns. On defense,the Patriots run a modified base 3-4 installed by Bill Belichick. It’s not your typical 3-4 defense. The Patriots defensive system generally places an emphasis on physicality and discipline over mobility and risk taking. Bend but don’t break. They finished 5th in total defense last seasonallowing 17.8 ppg. I don’t see them being any worse as their young players have another year of experience.
Bottom Line: Anytime you have a healthy Tom Brady at QB and Bill Belichick as head coach you will always have a great chance to win at least ten games. The Pats have a bitter taste in their mouths over last year’s debacle vs. the Ravens in the Wild Card round.
Prediction: 11-5 (1st Place AFC East)
New York Jets:11/1
The Jets had a solid 2009-10 season going 9-7 and reaching the playoffs as the last Wild Card AFC team. They also won consecutive playoff games for the first time since 1982 before losing to the Colts 30-17 in the AFC Championship game. They held a 17-13 HT lead but fell apart in the 2nd half.
The Fly Boys have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Nick Mangold is a stud at Centerand left tackle D’Brickashaw Fergusonhas started to deliver on his pre-draft hype. Look for Shonne Green and L.T. to have big years running behind that massive line. I also look forQB Mark Sanchez to improve in his sophomore season. The Jets will feature a strong running game that wears down defenses before giving Sanchez shots to throw downfield to a collection of targets with big-play skills. Santonio Holmes is suspended for the first four games so Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, and TE Dustin Keller will be used a lot more. Last season the Jets had the #1 defense allowing 14.8 ppg. Rex Ryan has this defense playing inspired,aggressive, and angry just like his dad (Buddy Ryan)did for the Eagles.
The big question that Jets fans have is when and if Darrelle Revis will report to camp. I believe a deal will get done just before the start of the regular season so the #1 defense will have its best player on the field in week one. With a lockout almost certain next seasonI just don’t see Revis missing anygame checks. Also, NFL training camps are no picnic so he mightjust behanging out until the season starts.
Bottom Line: Rex Ryan guaranteed a Super Bowl win. That’s good enough for me.
Prediction: 10-6 (2nd Place AFC East)
Good Luck this Football season!