The Road to the Super Bowl


A look at the NFC Playoffs and the teams chances of getting all the way to the Superbowl on February 1st in Tampa.

New York Giants (#1 seed):

The G-Men are solid from top to bottom.  Sure they lost three games in the final month, but really this team was not playing at 100% or what they started the season with.  Running Back Brandon Jacobs sat out a couple of games.  Receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself and probably lost a shot at ever playing for the Giants or anyone else for that matter again.  The Giants have been at or near the top of the power rankings for most people all season long.  Last year was considered a miracle or as some called it, a fluke.  However, the Giants were just getting warmed up.  After a preseason in which they saw several top players go down for the season and almost was able to lure Michael Strahan out of retirement, the Giants came out strong and never looked back.  Now with home field advantage throughout the playoffs (meaning the divisional and championship games), the Giants have the luxury of sitting back next weekend and watching what transpires.  They will face either Philadelphia, Arizona, or Atlanta on Sunday January 11th. 

Super bowl chances: Those rooms in Tampa should already be booked by now.

Carolina Panthers (#2 seed):

For awhile most could not understand this team, including yours truly.  This was a team that had a last second victory in San Diego, lost badly in Tampa, almost lost to Oakland in a game in which Jake Delhomme was 7-27 for only 72 yards in a 17-6 win, got away with their lives in a close win in come from behind fashion against Arizona, and almost squandered the division away on Sunday against New Orleans by allowing the Saints 21 4th quarter points.  However you look at it though, Carolina has one of the best one-two punches in the offensive backfield with Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams.  It’s all about how you finish now matter how pretty or ugly.  They finished victorious 12 times this season and that was good enough for the second seed and home field in the second weekend against Minnesota, Arizona, or Atlanta. 

Super bowl chances: Ride on the wheels of Stewart and Williams.  Any mistakes along the way will dash hopes for heading south on February 1st.

Minnesota Vikings (#3 seed):

The Minnesota Vikings are a team once left for dead by the experts.  Reborn in the last month with Tavaris Jackson at quarterback, who was benched early in favor of Gus Frerotte.  An injury to Frerotte allowed Jackson to get off the bench and revive his season.  That he did.  Adrian Peterson ran wild en route to big victories over Arizona on the road, and Sunday over the Giants at home.  Sure they lost a hearbreaker last week against Atlanta, but overall, Minnesota looked like the a playoff team in December. That was a far cry from what they looked like in September and October.  They face Philadelphia next weekend.  Could be a tough task.  Philadelphia played strong in four of the last five weeks and will be looking for the upset.

Super Bowl chances: A break here or there can propel them to Tampa.  They wouldn’t have to see New York until the Championship game.

Arizona Cardinals (#4 seed):

Which team will show up Saturday?  The one that started 7-3 and finished strong Sunday with a balanced attack or the one that laid eggs against the Jets, Vikings, Eagles, and Patriots?  Who knows.  This much we do know – the Cardinals aren’t going to go down without a fight.  Sure they played in a weak division, but you can’t fault the Cards for that.  They finished 6-0 inside the division, which to me is impressive no matter who you are playing in the NFL.  Now the victory against Miami in September appears to be big as well.  Who knew that Miami would go 11-3 the rest of the way after being blown out by the Cards?  Not me.  Ultimately, this team is known for its mistakes at inopportune times.  Penalties, poor tackling, turnovers, and poor decisions really doomed this team over most of the past 5 weeks of the season.  The dumb penalties still existed on Sunday, but they overcame those.  Against Atlanta, that will be a tall order to fill.  Only mistake free football will allow the Cardinals to breath further life in these playoffs.

Super Bowl chances: The way most look at it, slim to none.  Slim has bought his ticket and is on the plane, but the plane is still on the tarmac.  There is always a chance the plane is recalled to the gate.

Atlanta Falcons (#5 seed):

They might be the best #5 seed the NFC has seen in a long time.  Mere seconds away from being the #2 seed.  With rookie Matt Ryan at the helm and leading the Falcons to 11 victories in the 2008 campaign is nothing less than spectacular.  Atlanta had impressive road wins in San Diego and Minnesota.  Michael Turner turned out to be the running back Atlanta was looking for and so desperately needed.  They head to a tough place to play in Arizona on Saturday, however if there is a team that can pull it off without sweating too much, it’s Atlanta.  They will give the Cardinals fits.

Super Bowl chances:  If they win in Arizona, anything is possible.  A trip to New York or Carolina is next, but this is the type of team, if they get hot, can ride it to the Super Bowl.  They could be this year’s New York Giants, or maybe….

Philadelphia Eagles (#6 seed):

Wow.  This team, all but left for dead after quarterback Donovan Mcnabb was pulled in the loss to Baltimore in November and a tie in Cincinnati, Philadephia found new life starting on Thanksgiving with a win over Arizona, then victories over division rivals New York and Dallas in December.  Sure, they needed a miracle from Oakland to beat Tampa in Tampa, but it happened.  The Eagles knew Tampa had lost by the time they took the field against Dallas.  They took that and stomped all over the Cowboys.  They went for the jugular and they may not stop till they get to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl chances:  ….maybe they are this year’s New York Giants.  One thing is for sure, they aren’t intimidated by anyone in the NFC playoff field.  They defeated New York and Arizona.  They can do it again.  If they can pull off the road win in Minnesota on Sunday, they may very well take the rooms already booked by the Giants in Tampa.