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Superbowl XLIV

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Who's your favorite to win the next Superbowl? And who do you actually think will win?

There's a lot of buzz about New England now that Brady has returned. Well and good. But we still have to see how he does first. Injuries can reduce some capacity and/or induce undesirable behavior (like fear of getting hit that hard again). But there's no doubt the Pats ahve a good team, a good coach and are a definite threat to win the championship.

So my favorite would naturally be the Steelers. But that requires at least some improvement to the offensive line, otherwise I'll be too worried Roethlisberger will get hurt on noe too many sacks.

As to actual win, there are four possibilities in no particular order:

1) Steelers

2) Patriots

3) Eagles

4) Cardinals

Of the four I'll even say the Cards are the most likely. We're all familiar with the team that's good during the season but terrible during the playoffs (Dallas lately, any team coached by Marty Schotenheimer, the Vikings, the Saints, etc). The Cardinals are the opposite: just good enough during the season, and fearsome during the playoffs (they were 9-7 last year). So I wouldn't count them out even if they qualify as the lesser wild card team.

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This is a bit premature, no? :P

No more so that the 2012 presidential hopefuls :P

Seriously, it is premature but not all that premature. If you want any NFL action at a sports book today the easiest bet is who'll win the Superbowl, followed by Conference and Division champs, and then it gets awfully complicated (like the number of Overs overall per season per team, which must mean something but I don't know what).

I don't bet on sports, but I do speculate.

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Who's your favorite to win the next Superbowl? And who do you actually think will win?

There's a lot of buzz about New England now that Brady has returned. Well and good. But we still have to see how he does first. Injuries can reduce some capacity and/or induce undesirable behavior (like fear of getting hit that hard again). But there's no doubt the Pats ahve a good team, a good coach and are a definite threat to win the championship.

So my favorite would naturally be the Steelers. But that requires at least some improvement to the offensive line, otherwise I'll be too worried Roethlisberger will get hurt on noe too many sacks.

As to actual win, there are four possibilities in no particular order:

1) Steelers

2) Patriots

3) Eagles

4) Cardinals

Of the four I'll even say the Cards are the most likely. We're all familiar with the team that's good during the season but terrible during the playoffs (Dallas lately, any team coached by Marty Schotenheimer, the Vikings, the Saints, etc). The Cardinals are the opposite: just good enough during the season, and fearsome during the playoffs (they were 9-7 last year). So I wouldn't count them out even if they qualify as the lesser wild card team.

If you look at the history of the NFL, you will see that the losing team of a Super Bowl, especially cinderella-type teams like Arizona, don't really do well the next year. Obviously they are helped by the fact that their division is absolutely horrible, and I wouldn't be surprised if a 7-9 record would be enough to make it to the playoffs from the NFC West. Sure, Seattle could be pretty good this year with Hasselbeck healthy, and with the addition of TJ, but the 49ers(unless one of their QB's steps up) and especially the Rams will pose no threat.

I would say that the AFC favourites are:

1. Patriots

2. Steelers

3. Chargers

4. Ravens

...and the NFC favourites being:

1. Eagles*

2. Giants

3. Vikings (if they get Favre, and he accepts a "game manager"-type role letting Peterson be the no.1 man)

4. Saints

* the only knock on the Eagles is that in terms of "clutch quarterbacking", which is very important in the playoffs, the Eagles have a real handicap, because in my opinion, McNabb is the worst 4th quarter "clutch" QB the game has seen in a while. I mean, considering how good he is otherwise. I'm an Eagles fan, so that may make me too critical, but he is the type of guy that throws for 350yds with 4td and 0int, but if he needs to lead the team down the field with 2 minutes to go, he can very rarely pull it off. Also, the fact that he is so obsessed with "proving" that a black QB can be a pocket passer, means that he can't see that the individual named McNabb, is not a very good pocket passer. He has the awareness and the arm strength, but he is so horribly inaccurate with his throws that he really should scramble more, and rather complete these dink and dunk passes to Westbrook, Desean Jackson and starting this year to Jeremy Maclin as well. Those guys can give you the yards after the catch, so just try to get the ball in their hands.

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If you look at the history of the NFL, you will see that the losing team of a Super Bowl, especially cinderella-type teams like Arizona, don't really do well the next year.

Sure, but the Cards have Ken Wisenhunt as head coach, and a ten megaton chip on their shoulders. So they ahve a good coach and they're motivated as hell. I think Wisenhunt hit his stride late in the season, but that only meant he was bound to do well in the playoffs. All they need is a slightly better defense (and not facing the Steelers again).

BTW Will this be Romo's last season as a starter in Dallas?

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Sure, but the Cards have Ken Wisenhunt as head coach, and a ten megaton chip on their shoulders. So they ahve a good coach and they're motivated as hell. I think Wisenhunt hit his stride late in the season, but that only meant he was bound to do well in the playoffs. All they need is a slightly better defense (and not facing the Steelers again).

Well, they need a better defense, but do they have a better defense is another question.

Also, I'm not so sure about the "motivated as hell" part. I think the Cardinals of 2008 were basically the Falcons of 1998. A perennial underachiever has a one off season, and is a threat to no one the next. In the NBA and the NHL we often see good teams lose in the finals one year, and then win the championship in the next few years, but it doesn't really work that way in the NFL. Here is a quick list of the previous Super Bowl losers, and what they did the next few years:

1998 Atlanta Falcons: 6-10 in '99 - no playoffs

1999 Tennessee Titans: 13-3 in '00 - lost in the divisional playoffs

2000 New York Giants: 7-9 in '01 - no playoffs

2001 St.Louis Rams: 7-9 in '02 - no playoffs

2002 Oakland Raiders: 4-12 in '03 - no playoffs

2003 Carolina Panthers: 7-9 in '04 - no playoffs

2004 Philadelphia Eagles: 6-10 in '05 - no playoffs

2005 Seattle Seahawks: 9-7 in '06 - lost in the divisional playoffs

2006 Chicago Bears: 7-9 in '07 - no playoffs

2007 New England Patriots: 11-5 in '08 - no playoffs*

The last Super Bowl loser to return to the SB the next year was the Bills in the early 1990's, but I guess we all know how those games ended. In fact, no Super Bowl losing team since the Bills has returned to the Super Bowl within the next 5 years, and even in that case(Patriots '96 & '01), the core of the team wasn't the same. Obviously coincidence plays a part as well, but it seems like it is really difficult to return to the SB after losing, especially for "cinderella" teams.

Also, of all the teams in the league, I think the Cardinals are the team that is the most reliant on the health of one player, being Kurt Warner. Sure they have the two superstar receivers, but Warner is the only guy on that team that can actually get the ball to them. Warner is an old man, and if he goes down, I doubt that Leinart can lead the team to any success.

BTW Will this be Romo's last season as a starter in Dallas?

Should be, but for some reason he has been able to fool everyone to think that he is a good QB. With TO gone, I think he will struggle, just like Eli will struggle without Plaxico. There are only a select few quarterbacks who have shown that they can they can win without any weapons, and Tom Brady is probably no.1 on that list. When Tom Brady gets a Randy Moss, he throws 50 TD's and breaks all kinds of records, but he managed to win three superbowls with third string runningbacks and really average receivers.

One more thing: I am 99% sure that Matt Cassell will be an absolute bust in Kansas City. People look too much at QB's W-L records, and if they had actually watched film, they would have noticed that Cassell lacks almost all tools a good QB needs. He's definitely not worth 10M/year or whatever ridiculous amount he signed for.

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Also, I'm not so sure about the "motivated as hell" part. I think the Cardinals of 2008 were basically the Falcons of 1998.

Could be. On the other hand the head coach still has to be sore the Steelers passed him over for an outsider, therefore he's determined to win the big one (all coahes are, to some degree, but not all of them are good enough). And this may be Warner's very last chance. True, he's already won a Superbowl with the Rams, but he has to be disatisfied with how his career progressed afterwards. A second great comeback would be a perfect capstone for him.

Here is a quick list of the previous Super Bowl losers, and what they did the next few years:

Thanks. The question now is: do the dice have a memory? Play any game long enough and you'll get every possible result, streak, etc. For over a decade the AFC could not win a Superbowl, but that dind't mean the NFC champion would automatically win.

In some games of chance this means past events don't influence future events. In Football, where chance has a variable role that si itself random, a trend does not disqualify a particular team.

2007 New England Patriots: 11-5 in '08 - no playoffs*

that's the Pats after loosing Brady and coming off a near-perfect season. That has to be extremely unusual.

Should be, but for some reason he has been able to fool everyone to think that he is a good QB.

He's not bad. But he reliably falls apart late in the season and in aprticular during the playoffs (and why was he holding the ball for the place kicker after becoming the starting QB anyway?)

With TO gone, I think he will struggle, just like Eli will struggle without Plaxico.

I really don't understand why the Giants don't let Plaxico back in.

One more thing: I am 99% sure that Matt Cassell will be an absolute bust in Kansas City. People look too much at QB's W-L records, and if they had actually watched film, they would have noticed that Cassell lacks almost all tools a good QB needs. He's definitely not worth 10M/year or whatever ridiculous amount he signed for.

My first inkling that he isn't really that good is the fact the Pats traded him. Brady notwithstanding, every team would kill to ahve a top notch backup in case of injury. Of course a top notch backup would move heaven and earth to be traded to any team who'd let him start.

I'm reminded of Mike Kruczek(sp?) who subbed for Bradshaw during one season. He racked up an impressive W-L record, loosing only one game, which stood as a mark for rookie QBs until Roethlisberger shattered it (no, the Steelers are not the Nexus of the Universe, it's just a coincidence). But he had the benefit of the original Steel Curtain, Mike Webster, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier and Lynn Swan. Or think of Morrall with the Dolphins in 72. He kept the perfect season on track, but Shula didn't even hesitate to put Bob Griesse back on once he returned from an injury.

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Go Cowboys! They will win so hard, that they will retroactively declare them winner of last year's superbowl, too.

I should go on to explain how, in the unlikely case the Cowboys were to reach the Superbowl, they'd be taken apart by either the Steelers, Pats or Ravens. But there's no point to it as long as they carry with them the seeds of their own destruction.

But we can do a side bet: will Tony Romo win a playoff game before the Saints win a Superbowl?

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