The Vince Lombardi Trophy is the most coveted award in the most widely seen event throughout the world, the Super Bowl. The fight for the right to appear in Super Bowl XLVI will be a closely, a very closely contested one. Last year’s champs, the Green Bay Packers shocked the NFL betting world and won their 1st Super Bowl Championship under their new regime. But can they go on and repeat?
Other teams such as the New England Patriots have won 3 Super Bowls since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick hooked up and they are looking to add another ring to their collection as their time together runs out and the team becomes older. Another team, the Indianapolis Colts with quite possibly one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Peyton Manning, have only managed to climb the mountaintop once but are looking to engrave their name on the Lombardi Trophy and the world again, while solidifying their status as a legendary team. Lastly, you have the Pittsburgh Steelers who have flown under the radar, winning two Super Bowls with Ben Rothlisberger (29 years old) and were just one game away from getting a 3rd ring last year.
Let’s take a closer look at contenders who have won the Super Bowl within the last decade and the obstacles that they might face and the betting odds available.
The Packers surprised everyone last season and came on strong late in the season with the leadership of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers proved that the legend of Brett Favre is a thing of the past as he came up big, time and time again, in clutch situations against some formidable teams. Green Bay made it into the playoffs with a 10-6 record but that’s where they excelled. The Packers are a very deep team and you have to start with the heart of the defense Clay Matthews. Matthews attained practically every award that was given out. He was a first team all-pro selection, NFC Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus Award Winner, and Super Bowl Champion. The bloodlines run deep as Clay Matthews III puts fear into the eyes of an offense as he’s a young, active football player. Charles Woodson and Nick Collins also made the all-pro second team.
On the offensive side, we all know about Aaron Rodgers and what he can do. Last season, wide receiver Greg Jennings made the pro bowl and caught for 1265 yards and 12 touchdowns. Just think about it, the Packers won the Super Bowl and they were without injured tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant. The receiving core is very deep with Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and veteran Donald Driver. If Finley and Grant can come back healthy, there’s no telling how far that this team will go.
New England Patriots (7/1)
Tom Brady has one goal in mind and that’s to be the best quarterback that’s ever played the game. Adding a 4th Super Bowl title to his resume would put him right near the top of the list. Brady has limited time as he turns 34 years old this season and isn’t surrounded by the players that he had in 2008. The Giants pulled off a major upset of the undefeated Patriots, otherwise Brady would be looking for a ring to complete a full set on one hand this season. Tom Brady has always been underestimated. In college, Drew Henson was supposed to be the man at Michigan. In the pros, Brady was drafted very late. He made it a point to prove all of the non-believers wrong and he’s made his point emphatically. RandyMoss would love to re-join the Patriots and Brady but that remains to be seen.
Brady is surrounded by a bunch of blue collar type players that he makes better with his leadership. The Patriots have a grinder at running back in Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis. He’s a 1000 yard rusher and gives New England a solid but not flashy running game. The Patriots picked up a gem in Danny Woodhead. The Jets discarded Woodhead at the end of training camp and the Patriots made him a main cog in their well oiled machine. Woodhead isn’t the most talented player in the world but with the effort that he provides and playing under Brady, Woodhead is a major force on the team. Woodhead ran for 547 yards and 5 TD’s in 14 games. He also caught for 379 yards and 1 TD in making himself a double threat for the Pats.
The Patriots also have a wide array of blue collar receivers (that Brady makes better). Wes Welker is a great possession receiver and led the Patriots in receiving last season with 848 yards and 7 TD’s. Welker spread around the wealth with players such as veteran Deion Branch, Aaron Hernandez, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski caught 10 TD’s and the other receivers mentioned all caught for over 500 yards each. What did Tom Brady do? He threw for 3900 yards, 36 TD’s, and 4 INT. That’s about as perfect as a QB can ever play. Look for New England to duke it out with the New York Jets in the AFC East.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10/1)
I wanted to say that the Steelers have accomplished a lot since Ben Rothlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin took the reins in the Steel City. Two Super Bowl Titles and an appearance in last year’s Super Bowl is nothing to take lightly. There have been talks that Rothlisberger held off surgery on an injury that he still has, so be on the lookout for any upcoming news. Rothlisberger doesn’t put up huge numbers, he’s just clutch and can roll out of the pocket and spot the open man. Of course he has longtime superstar Heinz Ward to throw to and Ward is a veteran and a solid receiver that always seems to have a smile on his face. Let’s not forget leading receiver Mike Wallace who caught for 1257 yards and 10 TD’s. Heath Miller is one of the best tight ends in football. Pittsburgh is solid in this area.
In the running back position, the Steelers have one of the best in Rashard Mendenhall but they need Mendenhall to stay healthy because they lack depth. Mendenhall ran for 1273 yards and 12 TD’s.
On the defensive end, the Steelers have 3 players with 100 or more tackles last season. Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, and James Harrison lead a tough defensive team in the Steel Curtain. Let’s not forget about fan favorite Troy Palomalu and his long locks while picking up 7 interceptions on the season.
I know the numbers seem good but I think that the Steelers were lucky to get home field advantage on the Jets in the AFC Championship game and make it to the Super Bowl. They rolled in the 1st half but the Jets clearly outplayed the Steelers. This is a team with an immature QB (who was suspended the first 4 games of the season) and I think that he’s taken them as far as he can. Green Bay proved it. Pittsburgh will always play a tough game but I would look for a drop off from them in 2011.
Indianapolis Colts (16/1)
This is a team that’s not getting the credit with the lines makers. With all of the injuries that they had to endure last season, they were still able to make it to the playoffs at 10-6 after winning their last 4 games. The championships won’t say it but they have the best pure QB in the game in Peyton Manning. Manning is like a coach on the field. Time is getting short for the connection of Peyton Manning and his lead 1000 plus yard receiver Reggie Wayne. Manning is 35 years old and it’s now or maybe too late. Manning reminds me of all time great Dan Marino. Marino never had great support but had a great arm and the respect of his football team. Marino never won a Super Bowl and thankfully for Peyton, he has. In my estimation, one more Super Bowl Championship for Peyton Manning and people could possibly consider him the best of all time. Although his support hasn’t been great at times and his team has been subjected to a lot of injuries, he needs that 2nd title.
Manning was missing some major pieces last season due to injury. Running back Joseph Addai, tight end Dallas Clark, wide receivers Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez were all out of action due to injury. Indy’s leading rusher was Donald Brown with 497 yards. The fact that the Colts still managed to go 10-6 is a testament to the heart of their players.
Manning was able to incorporate receivers Jacob Tamme and Blair White into the offense. It’s amazing because these aren’t household names. Running back Dominic Rhodes came on late in the season and Addai and Rhodes make a nice combination with the passing of Manning. Peyton threw for 4700 yards last season. The man just finds ways to win.
The Colts will be legitimate contenders. I think that they’re a bargain at 16/1. The Super Bowl will be played at Lukas Oil Stadium (their home) in Indianapolis. If that’s not incentive, I don’t know what is.
New Orleans Saints (16/1)
I must be quite frank about the Saints; I don’t think that they’ve got much of a chance to pick up another title. Drew Brees didn’t look like the accurate, confident passer from the season before. A lot of those throws were inaccurate and it resulted in 22 interceptions. Brees is a very intense player and look for him to improve upon that. The Saints will be tested in week 1 when they face the Packers.
One problem that I see is running back Reggie Bush. He’s not happy with the situation in New Orleans and that’s instant trouble. He’s never lived up to the hype and let’s just say that he’s no Marshall Faulk. The Saints were lucky enough to pickup Mark Ingram in the late 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Expect Ingram to be everything that Bush isn’t.
Marques Colston provides the Saints receiving core with a 1000 plus yard season every year. He’s a consistent and reliable target for Brees. The Saints have some solid receivers in Lance Moore (763 yards, 8 TD’s), Devery Henderson (464 yards, 1 TD), and Robert Meacham (638 yards , 5 TD’s). At tight end, they have the controversial Jeremy Shockey. Shockey has been a mere average tight end in the NFL, never living up to expectations with the New York Giants. He’s learned to tone it down in New Orleans.
In my opinion, the Saints are going to have a tough time competing with teams who aren’t even on this list such as the Eagles, Falcons, and the Giants. The Giants have won a championship fairly recently but they failed to qualify for the playoffs last season and were left off.
I also think that Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons had a spectacular season in 2010. They just need a little experience. This is a team with a star at every position and shouldn’t be written off. The Falcons finished the season at 13-3 and have acquired 1st round pick Julio Jones in the 1st round of the draft. Add in Michael Turner, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez and you have a Super Bowl contender.
What to look for?
This article is about the teams that are contenders and have won before. The Indianapolis Colts fit the title accurately. Not only that but they’re at a very generous 16/1 with Peyton Manning quarterbacking the team. They’ll be healthy this season and if they can get to the Super Bowl game, it’s curtains for the opponent because they’ll be on their home field. Peyton Manning makes everyone better. He and Reggie Wayne still have a lot left in the tank. I like the Colts in this spot to win the Super Bowl and for Peyton Manning to win his 2nd NFL Championship