Previewing Remaining Playoff Teams Chances to Win the Super Bowl

Will Locklin, Staff Writer

After a surprising and exciting divisional round of the NFL Playoffs, four teams remain in the chase to win the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.  On Saturday, the 49ers took care of business against an inferior team in the Vikings. The 49ers like they have all season, dominated on the defensive side of the ball.  Vikings fumbled the ball three times and turned the ball over twice with one interception by superstar corner Richard Sherman. They limited the Vikings best player, Dalvin Cook to 18 yards rushing and sacked quarterback Kirk Cousins six times.  In the late game, the Titans pulled off a massive upset, handily beating the Ravens 28-12. Their ground and pound style of play has tired opposing defenses out so far in the postseason. The Titan’s gritty defense caused MVP favorite Lamar Jackson to become extremely frustrated and antsy in the pocket which resulted in multiple turnovers.

The Sunday games were just as wacky starting out with the Chiefs dismantling the Texans 51-31.  The Texans jumped out to a 24 point lead in the first quarter and squandered it in the second quarter by allowing the Chiefs to score 28 unanswered points to end the half.  The Chiefs clearly came out lazy and not ready for the intensity of playoff football but once quarterback Patrick Mahomes started to get loose it became obvious that the Chiefs were a far superior team.  The last game of the weekend was between the Packers and Seahawks. The Packers won by a score of 28-23. Aaron Rodgers played his best game of the season when they needed him the most with 243 yards and 2 touchdowns and several clutch throws to keep the Seahawks from having a chance to win the game.  

Now that there are four teams remaining, let’s take a look at how they stack up and what are the chance they will win the Super Bowl in just over three weeks.  The San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the NFL. Top to bottom they have a well-balanced roster with no glaring holes for other teams to exploit. Coaching is not an issue thanks to Kyle Shannahan who has done a very skillful job calling plays and putting his players in a position for success.  As mentioned before, the Niners have the best defense in the NFL with stars at every level. Their fearsome defensive line includes Nick Bosa and Dee Ford who have combined for over 15 sacks. They rank 1st in the NFL against the run and third against the pass while having the number one scoring defense.  In the secondary Richard Sherman has locked down other teams best receiver all year and will have no problems continuing to do so. On offense, they have an above average quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo who has a bevy of weapons to throw to in George Kittle, Deboo Samuel and Emmaunel Sanders. The Niners also have the second best rushing attack in the league with 180 yards per game.  Overall, the 49ers have the most well balanced team in the league and hold home field advantage in the NFC Championship giving them an excellent chance to making and winning the Super Bowl.  

The team that will be facing the Niners in the NFC Championship game is the Green Bay Packers.  After not making the playoffs last year and firing their head coach, Aaron Rodgers finds himself in familiar territory with another chance to make his second Super Bowl.  However, this year’s team looks a lot different than typical Packers teams. In the past the reason they have had success in the playoffs has been because of Rodgers and Rodgers only.  This year with smart off-season moves and a healthy coach quarterback relationship the Packers have built a good team around Rodgers that compliments him perfectly. Head coach Matt LaFleur has committed his offense to running the football with Aaron Jones and not going as pass happy as the Packers have in the past.  With a more balanced attack the Packers have flown relatively under the radar most of the season. Another reason they are here is because of big time offseason acquisitions on the defensive side of the ball. Signing Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos have buffed up a previously suspect defense that has held the Packers back in the past.  With a solid team around Rodgers the Packers can challenge the Niners, especially if Aaron Rodgers gets hot at the right time. The Packers will be the underdog but are extremely dangerous if they play their best football.  

On the AFC side of the bracket, the Kansas City Chiefs have bounced back from their mid-season troubles and are tuning into the Super Bowl caliber team that many believed them to be in the preseason.  Carried by the best offense of the four remaining teams the Chiefs can seemingly run up the score on any defense. They are led by the best player in the NFL, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and some of the most dynamic playmakers on the outside.  With the combination of Mahomes, Travis Kelce, speedster Tyreek Hill and a brilliant football mind in Andy Reid calling plays, the Chiefs are as deadly as they come in the NFL. the Chiefs defense is less to be desired as they have a tendency to give up big plays on the ground and through the air.  They do have a good pass rush with stout defensive linemen in Chris Jones and Emmanuel Ogbah and a great safety in Tyrann Mahieu. The Chiefs will host the AFC Championship game against the Titans and will be able to continue their air raid. More than likely, the Chiefs will be playing in Super Bowl 53 but they will go as far as Patrick Mahomes can take them. 

The surprise team of the NFL playoffs has been the Tennessee Titans.  In the regular season the went 9-7 and narrowly grabbed the last playoff spot in the AFC.  They went on the road and beat the regaining Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, ending their dynasty and sending them into an off-season with a lot of question marks.  Then they went into Baltimore and upset the team with the best record in football in the Ravens. The man behind this unprecedented run is 2019 NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry.  Henry runs like a bulldozer, accelerating into the open hole and lowering the shoulder pads into any defenders who try to tackle him. If defenses clog the middle then he will bounce to the outside and run right past corners and safeties for extra yardage.  He is playing like the best true runner in the NFL and leading the Titans on this incredible run. Their defense has been gritty and shuts down the strengths of the opposing offense. Without an elite player on defense the Titans function well as a unit rather than relying on high level playmakers to get the job done.  The biggest test that they will face is can they overcome their quarterback shortcomings. As solid as Ryan Tannahill has been, he will have to be special in order for the Titans to win the Super Bowl. In all likelihood the road will end here for the Titans but after all they have proved the world wrong time and time again so what’s a couple more time right.