With the regular season about to begin, this is a good time to do my annual tradition - making Super Bowl predictions. Now, it doesn't ultimately mean much - I'll revisit these a few times through the season and likely change and adapt as things progress. This is a starting point, though. The team that does get the nod from me shouldn't celebrate, though. History has shown that a Super Bowl pick from me is a kiss of death. Their season ends the second I make the pick. So, who gets the crushing fate of my faith this year? Let's have a look:
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New England Patriots (+700): My initial reaction, like anyone's, was that the loss of Tom Brady for four weeks was a big issue. Jimmy Garoppolo is a completely unproven entity. The more you look at it, though, the harder it is to be concerned at all. The first game at Arizona will be tough, but they could easily go 2-2 or 3-1 during the suspension. Then Brady comes back, and you can be sure he'll be angry. He's dangerous when he's angry. The talent is there again - in a very Patriots kind of way. The schedule is favorable enough that they can get the playoff bye, and the division title is all but a lock. The AFC is deep, but it's not as tough as it has been in recent years. I am quite tempted to pick them, but at this point I have them finishing as runner-up in the AFC.
Green Bay Packers (+750): I thought they were going to lose to Minnesota somewhere along the way. I obviously don't think that anymore. They and the Panthers are the two top teams in the NFC right now, and I give Green Bay the edge. They are going to win the NFC, but not the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+850): Here it comes - the kiss of death. The Pittsburgh Steelers, it says here, are going to win the Super Bowl. The coaching staff is competent and consistent. The defense is solid and effective. It's the offense, though, that is really the reason here. They are going to be able to score points in bulk, and they have a schedule that will help to make that happen. It's a tough division with Cincinnati and Baltimore, but they will get their share of wins there. Big Ben has done well in Pittsburgh, but he should probably have more to show for it than he has. He'll add to the trophy case now.
Seattle Seahawks (+850): I am very bearish on the Seahawks this year. They are talented and all that - that is without question. They have been strong for a long time now, though, and it really feels like they are due for a small step back. It won't be a disastrous year by any means, and with a relative lack of depth in the NFC they could still make the playoffs. It just feels like they will be a good team, though, as opposed to a great one.
Arizona Cardinals (+1000): There is so much to like here. With each passing year, though, it gets harder and harder to trust Carson Palmer as the leader of this team - especially in the playoffs. They are certainly in the mix in a big way, but I just don't think they are quite there in the top tier of things.
Carolina Panthers (+1000): I like the team a lot. They had a solid offseason, and their talent level is very high. I look for a big breakout season from Devin Funchess at receiver, and they will be right there until the end. The only reason I pick Green Bay over them in the NFC is because Carolina won the conference last year, and it's just so hard to repeat.
New York Giants (+1400): I still don't think of this team as a legitimate contender this year. They are fine, but I feel they are a long way from where they need to be. Of course, the last two times they won the title I thought the exact same thing. I just can't judge this team accurately, I guess. Still, I'll pass confidently at this price.
Denver Broncos (+1800): As I write they still have three QB options. None of them are nearly good enough to go all the way. It could get ugly, and no matter how good the defense could be that rules them out of this race.
Kansas City Chiefs (+2000): At this price this is a sound bet. There aren't a lot of holes on this team, they addressed their QB depth nicely, the coaching is sound, and the division is manageable. Worth a look.
Cincinnati Bengals (+2000): Marvin Lewis still coaches them. They aren't winning anything that matters under him.
Minnesota Vikings (+2800): True story - Tuesday morning I originally wrote this article. I picked Minnesota to win it all. I finished it off, felt good about the pick, checked Twitter, and saw that the Vikings' world had just crashed to a halt. Teddy Bridgewater's knee was shredded literally at the moment I picked them to win the Super Bowl. I did this. And for that I am truly sorry. They are still solid, but not nearly good enough with another QB even though they traded for Sam Bradford this morning.
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