It’s finally here.
After months of waiting, the NFL’s 100th season will kick off Thursday night when the Bears host the Packers. It’s only fitting that the league’s oldest and most storied rivalry will bring the NFL into its second century.
As we enter the season, the Bears and Packers seem to be in very different spots. The Bears, fresh off a 12-win season and their first division title since 2010, are a young team looking to take the next step and become serious Super Bowl contenders.
The Packers only managed 6 wins last year, their lowest total since 2005. However, with a healthy roster, a new coach, and one of the greatest QBs of all time, the Packers remain a threat in the NFC and are looking to surprise many people this year.
The question is: does either team have what it takes to contend for the championship in Miami in February?
Last season, the Patriots took home their sixth Super Bowl title, including their third in the last five years. They enter this season as good of a favorite as anyone; however, many young teams are on the rise. This week we debate who will win the 2020 Super Bowl.
New England Patriots
Eventually, one of the greatest dynasties in sports history must come to an end. However, the Patriots showed us last year that it might not be any time soon. In 2018-19, Tom Brady had perhaps the least number of weapons around him since his career started. And yet, the Pats still came out on top.
Their success is a nod to Bill Belichick, who is quickly cementing his status as the greatest football coach ever. As long as Belichick is around, it seems like the Patriots will always be contenders. Belichick, like the Patriots, seems to always get better as the season goes on. For several years now, the Pats have lost games early in the season, where it seemed like their dynasty could be falling apart. But every year, it seems like they still end up in the Super Bowl. Don’t be surprised if the same happens this year.
Kansas City Chiefs
We all saw how close the Chiefs got last year. In the AFC championship game, Tom Brady threw a game-sealing interception that was called back simply because one Chiefs player lined up offsides on the play. They were that close to playing in the Super Bowl, which would have given us a rematch of the Rams-Chiefs thriller from last regular season. Oftentimes, when we see a team get THAT close to the Super Bowl, they are able to learn from their mistakes and get over the top the next year.
The Chiefs are still absolutely loaded on offense, and reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes should be even better in his second year. After struggling in the first half of the AFC title game, Mahomes was on fire in the second half and will look to carry that momentum into this season. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are a terrific combo. The addition of LeSean McCoy should help too. As long as Damian Williams can churn out consistent yards on the ground, this offense will be unstoppable again.
New Orleans Saints
Similar to the Chiefs, the Saints were THAT close to their first Super Bowl since they won it in 2009. The missed pass interference call will serve as strong motivation for the Saints. New Orleans is also loaded on offense. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas can all be argued as the best in the league at their respective positions. The Saints also have one of their strongest defenses since the Brees era began.
For years, Brees has put up ridiculous numbers while the Saints defense was among the league’s worst. New Orleans has finally put it all together. However, with Brees’ advancing age, this year seems like the last chance for the Saints to capture their second Super Bowl of the Brees era.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are another young team looking to get over the hump. They’ve pulled off a successful rebuild that ended in a Super Bowl loss last year. Historically, Super Bowl losers often struggle mightily the next year. However, there is no reason to believe the Rams will be anything but contenders for years to come. Led by young head coach Sean McVay and the newly locked-up Jared Goff, the Rams will be hungry to get back to the Super Bowl.
Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp form arguably the best receiving trio in the league. Kupp tore his ACL last November and the Rams offense was never quite the same. His presence should help boost an offense that posted only 3 points on the Pats in the Super Bowl.
The defense, while somewhat porous, is still capable of big plays when needed. The unit also contains the best player in football, Aaron Donald. Donald is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and seems like a lock to win the award for the third time in a row this year. Despite facing double teams on almost every play, he still registered 20.5 sacks, falling two sacks short of the NFL record.
The Eagles enter the season as a new team with a firm direction. They decided to let Nick Foles walk despite the postseason heroics that he brought the team the last two years, including a Super Bowl win over the Patriots two seasons ago.
That means it’s up to Carson Wentz to regain his 2017 MVP-level play. Wentz is an MVP favorite this year and he’s loaded with weapons around him, including Zach Ertz. Doug Pederson is one of the best coaches in the league and is a crafty play-caller. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles find themselves in the NFC championship game.
AFC Championship Game: Patriots over Chiefs
NFC Championship Game: Saints over Bears
Super Bowl: Saints over Patriots
I think this is the year for the Saints. They’ve suffered heartbreaking losses in each of the last two postseasons. This is the year they break through and Brees gets his well-deserved second Super Bowl. A Brees-Brady Super Bowl seems like the dream matchup that we never got. This is the year it happens.
What do YOU think? Who will be the team to take home the Lombardi Trophy this year?
NBA expert and IU grad. '96 Bulls > Warriors. #FireGarPax