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Old 08-06-2006, 09:22 AM   #1
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Default Re: Why your team will make it to the superbowl

The NFL's commitment to parity has left it with at least one prickly issue:




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One team is required to win the Super Bowl. In recent years, this has become a big problem. The current interpretation of the pro-football powerhouse just won't stand up to the harsh winds of studio analysis.

Anyway, in an attempt to ease the pain caused by a previous and fairly insensitive column that made cases for why all 32 teams will not win SB XLI, I'm prepared to accentuate the positive. That's right, in perhaps the most difficult sports-writing piece attempted this entire week, I'll attempt to identify at least one reason why your team will win it all in Miami (Feb. 4 ... it is recommended that you begin your Super Bowl party at 7 a.m. on Feb. 3).

These reasons will be much more scientific than, for example, the weakness-of-schedule argument or the popular we've-been-knocking-on-the-door reasoning. Instead, I've waded through the brackish waters of statistics and preseason-magazine bluster to come up with the following lineup (use as a wagering guide at your own risk):


AFC EAST
Buffalo Bills: Marv Levy returns as personnel king with the intention of reminding us there's no substitute for experience.


Maybe this will be the year J.P. Losman breaks out. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Unfortunately, Buffalo enthusiasm should be tempered by the knowledge that there is a substitute for quarterback J.P. Losman and his name is Kelly Holcomb.

Miami Dolphins: New quarterback Daunte Culpepper an interception machine in 2005 will lead the Dolphins into a hometown Super Bowl by demonstrating that light blue is easier to identify than purple.

But the key to Miami's season will be the "Win one for Ricky!" battle cry.

New England Patriots: Despite romantic reports to the contrary, Pats coach Bill Belichick only has eyes for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Additional assistance will be supplied by new kicker Martin Gramatica, who should motivate quarterback Tom Brady to be even more efficient in the red zone.

New York Jets: The Jets thrive when quarterback Chad Pennington reduces arm stress by discontinuing his practice of throwing reporters under the bus.


AFC SOUTH
Houston Texans: Following the growth-through-adversity model, quarterback David Carr will turn into Joe Montana (or Joe Theismann).

Indianapolis Colts: If they wind up on the eve of another playoff destruction, it'll be good to have a kicker named Adam.

Even better is my prediction that DB Nick Harper will not inspire any women to stab him in the thigh with a knife.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Their travel agent tells the Jags they must go through Indy to reach Miami.

But the key to their Super Bowl march is an absence of wood blocks and axes in the locker room.

Tennessee Titans: The defense will rally to hold playoff foes to a scoring average that's lower than Vince Young's first Wonderlic result.


AFC NORTH
Baltimore Ravens: New quarterback Steve "Air" McNair should remind us that the middle name for ex-starter Kyle Boller will never be "Pro."

Cincinnati Bengals: Based on emotional stability, several Bengals will celebrate their Super Bowl win by purchasing kids' tickets at Disney World.

But frequent brushes with the law will be overshadowed by memories of The Longest Yard, which suggests that a few criminals are really good at football.


The Browns' Super Bowl hopes rely on Charlie Frye's development. (Tom Pidgeon / Getty Images)

Cleveland Browns: Serial mascot Drew Carey will prove that his influence on the U.S. men's soccer team was a fluke. Browns quarterback Charlie Frye provides good karma by having a last name that provokes memories of the Drew Carey Diet.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The drive for back-to-back titles will be eased by QB Ben Roethlisberger, whose credentials far exceed a learner's permit.


AFC WEST
Denver Broncos: That beard can't make Jake Plummer looks as good as Mike Shanahan and Javon Walker will. The offensive line and tactical system should (once again) validate their worth by making stars of Ron Dayne and Tatum Bell.

Kansas City Chiefs: Running back Larry Johnson and QB Trent Green will be good enough to keep the Chiefs' defense off the field when it matters.

Oakland Raiders: If Bill Callahan can steer the Silver and Black to a Super Bowl, Art Shell may have a puncher's chance.

San Diego Chargers: A hands-on approach with new QB Philip Rivers figures to work because the kid will be handing off to LaDanian Tomlinson.


NFC EAST
Dallas Cowboys: Wideout Terrell Owens and kicker Mike Vanderjagt will not be unlike a new-car warranty ... unbeatable for about one year.

And, thanks to Bill Parcells' authoritarian chops, smash-mouth football will not be overwhelmed by motor-mouth football.

New York Giants: Divorce hell probably won't be enough to keep defensive leader Michael Strahan from making a move on another ring.

QB Eli Manning should continue to remind us he's no Peyton ... especially in January.

Philadelphia Eagles: They'll win it all because quarterback Donovan McNabb dropped 10 pounds from his belly, and another 225 (give or take a Sharpie) from his back.

Washington Redskins: While defense spending always works out well in D.C., the challenge will be to convert Mark Brunell into the Baltimore edition of Trent Dilfer.


NFC SOUTH
Atlanta Falcons: A straight-ahead running game will be enough to overcome the learning curve of Michael Vick.

Carolina Panthers: While the broadcast deal belongs to CBS, this Super Bowl will be owned by Fox ... John Fox. Keyshawn Johnson will contribute by providing someone Steve Smith can high-five after a TD reception.

New Orleans Saints: Reggie Bush has an uncanny ability to make people miss. He'll be particularly missed by fans of the Houston Texans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs will be motivated by the desire to see if Coach Jon Gruden's requisite Gatorade shower turns into a steam bath.


NFC NORTH
Chicago Bears: A motivational edge will be supplied by younger Bears fans who think the Super Bowl Shuffle is a poker tournament.

Please note that QB Rex Grossman has done well in the Sunshine State, while the surname of back-up Brian Griese has a fine history in South Florida.

Detroit Lions: Let's see ... Millen, Mornhinweg, Mariucci, Marinelli, Martz, McCown, Miami?

Nah, I don't believe it, either. We'll have to go with Kitna here (but still be M-M-M not so good).

Green Bay Packers: Brett Favre should continue to play with the enthusiasm of a kid, but finally quits making decisions with the same level of maturity.




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Minnesota Vikings: The Vikes will be motivated to reach Miami, where the extra-ticket demand can be handled by former coach Mike Tice.


NFC WEST
Arizona Cardinals: In the Grand Canyon State, it's always important to have an Edge. But the Cards' key is quarterback Kurt Warner, a guy who really knows how to win. In this case, winning will mean getting hurt so Matt Leinart can take over.

St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson, Marc Bulger and Torry Holt will turn Miami into The Greatest Show on Surf.

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners to win the Super Bowl? This one may have something to do with alien abduction and a parallel universe.

Seattle Seahawks: The Super-Bowl-loser jinx will not apply since the Seahawks believe their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers was lost by the officiating.
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