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Who will win Super Bowl XLV?

Who will win Super Bowl XLV?

Who Will Win Super Bowl XLV?

New England

I don’t envy my colleague this week. Making the case for anyone other than the Patriots to win the Super Bowl is a fool’s errand. The P-men are riding a colossal wave, and that wave will crest in Dallas in early February.

Let’s sample some of their recent work. In a two-week period, the Patriots outscored the Jets and Bears, considered to be two of the best teams in football, by a combined 81–10. They silenced Rex Ryan’s confident crew, sending the Jets into a tailspin from which they might not recover. Even more impressive was the way New England marched into Chicago’s vaunted Bear Weather, into snow showers whipped into a blinding froth by the gale force winds off Lake Michigan, in front of a hostile crowd, against a Bears team that had won five straight, and utterly humiliated the home team in every phase — running, passing and returning the ball at will.

The Patriots’ greatness starts at the top; they have the two most important jobs covered better than any team in football. Coach Bill Belichick is absolutely on top of his game right now, and his schooling of Rex Ryan and Lovie Smith gives him an impressive assortment of scalps for his belt this season, including John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin. Does Atlanta’s Mike Smith, who has yet to win a playoff game in his brief career, have any hope against a coach who is 15–5 in the postseason?

Then there’s Tom Brady, who might be playing the best football of his Hall of Fame career. Has a quarterback ever played at a higher level? Entering the Pats’ Week 15 encounter with Green Bay, Brady was on an eight-game roll that included 19 TD passes and no interceptions.

The best coach and the best quarterback in the NFL? That’s good enough for me.  

– Rob Doster

Atlanta

Get ready to do the “Dirty Bird” dance, Dan Reeves and Jamal Anderson, because this year’s Atlanta Falcons are about to take it one step farther than the 1998 squad did en route to becoming the first and only Super Bowl participant in franchise history. While that team lost Super Bowl XXXIII to the Denver Broncos, 34–19, in John Elway’s final game, this year’s Falcons will not be denied — if, and only if, they are able to clinch homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs.

If Matt Ryan’s crew can lock up the NFC’s No. 1 seed and play at the Georgia Dome,  they will be suiting up for Super Bowl XLV in “Jerry’s House” at Cowboys Stadium. And once you are playing in the big game on Super Sunday, anything can happen — as the helmet-catching Giants and onside-kicking Saints showed while pulling off improbable underdog upset wins over the 18–0 Patriots and heavily favored Colts, respectively.

The AFC is loaded with title contenders at every turn — with the Patriots, Steelers, Ravens and Jets leading the way. Meanwhile, the NFC is far more “winnable” — with the inconsistent Giants, Bears and Saints, the injury-riddled Packers and the Eagles’ one-man band. Regardless of talent or track record, if the Falcons have the homefield edge, they are the team with the best chance to play in Super Bowl XLV.

“Matty Ice” loves the warmth of the dome. Heading into Seattle in Week 15, Ryan had a 31–12 career record as a starter, with a 19–1 mark at home and 22–4 record indoors — compared to a 9–8 career record with the wind blowing outdoors. He’s been even better over the past two years, with a 12–0 home record and 14–2 mark indoors.

No team in the NFL wants to see the cool, calm and collected third-year signal-caller in a climate controlled environment. Tom Brady can have his snow. Guess what? The $1.1 billion “Palace in Dallas” has a roof as well as central air and heat. No expense was spared — which will prove priceless to the Falcons when they win Super Bowl XLV.

– Nathan Rush

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Who will win Super Bowl XLV? The Patriots or the Falcons?