Face-Off: Which NFL Team Will Win the Super Bowl XLVII
by Seth Miller
After years of futility, the Redskins finally have a team with a very good shot at winning the Super Bowl this year. Head Coach Mike Shanahan has put together a team that can win every week. Two greats drafts over the past two years have given Redskins fans hope for this year and beyond.
Playing in the NFC East, arguably the toughest division in the NFL, provides a very tough and gritty schedule, which can prepare a team for a Super Bowl run. Take the Giants, for instance, who have won two of the past five Super Bowls. The Redskins will have to face the 2011 Super Bowl Champion Giants twice this year, along with two games each against the Eagles and Cowboys. The division schedule by itself is one of the hardest schedules any team in the NFL has to play. The Redskins also have matchups against the Falcons, the Steelers, and the Ravens, three of the toughest defenses in the league. This schedule is going to be difficult but it can definitely prepare a team for a Super Bowl run.
The relative youth of several starters could hurt the Redskins. Washington will start a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III, a rookie running back in Alfred Morris, and a rookie wide receiver in Aldrick Robinson. All three, though, are coming off stellar college careers, and Griffin joins the team as the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. Additionally, though the Redskins are very young, they do have two very good veterans on their team, wide receiver Santana Moss on offense and linebacker London Fletcher on defense, both of whom have over 10 years of experience.
The Redskins’ offense is already off to an impressive start this season, currently ranked 11th in the NFL in passing and 4th in running. This team scores points. Their defense, however, is another story, as their passing defense is dead last and their running defense is 10th. The Redskins will have to use their prolific offense to outscore their opponents as their defense will not do them any favors.
It might seem crazy to pick a team with a mediocre defense, but with their tough schedule, impressive rookies and veteran offense. the Redskins have a great chance to win the Super Bowl this year.
by Zane Gard
Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. I am not getting fooled by the 49ers again. I may have missed last year’s Super Bowl pick. So what am I doing? Picking them again. Why? Let us see . . . what are the weaknesses for this year’s 49ers team?
It is not the schedule. For starters, they get to play the Rams and Cardinals twice a year. Both teams are improved from last year, but are more pesky than competitive. New York, New England and Seattle are the only teams the 49ers face that are not blips on the schedule. But really, can a rookie-led team immediately compete against an elite defense for the division title? With the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants all fielding solid teams, the NFC looked loaded. Then the 49ers embarrassed two would-be contenders in Green Bay and Detroit and reminded everyone how good they still were. I am not saying the 49ers will go undefeated, but they should clinch home field advantage in the playoffs.
It certainly is not the defense. In their first three games, the 49rs defense has created four turnovers. Last season, the team led the NFL in turnover differential at an astounding plus-28. In Bill Barnwell’s “The Inaugural NFL Trade Value Rankings” on Grantland, he listed four 49ers in his top 45 (NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, and Justin Smith), all of whom are linebackers or linemen. But it is not just their front seven that is intimidating. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers were a combined 4 of 12 (33.3 percent) passing with 93 yards and an interception when throwing more than ten yards downfield against the 49ers’ split-safety defense. Simply put, the 49ers have a virtually immovable defense.
So what could go wrong? Alex Smith is scary even to most 49ers fans. But despite the ire of all the hometown Indianapolis Colts fans, maybe the 49ers lucked out in not getting Manning. If (read: when) Frank Gore gets hurt, more responsibility will be put on Alex Smith. Yet so far, Alex Smith is tied for third in the NFL in QBR. Granted, if he starts to throw interceptions, anything goes. But I am not buying the regression that analysts predict for Smith. Maybe he had a fluky 2011 season, but maybe Jim Harbaugh is just really good with quarterbacks.
This 49ers team looks every bit as good this season as they did last year. Led by their mastermind coach in a wide-open NFC race, the 49ers hope to ride their defense all the way to the Super Bowl. After being teased with the opportunity last postseason, I think it is about time we had an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl.