With the NFL playoffs upon us, many around the nation are debating which team will emerge from the slugfest. Countless storylines have been swirling, including whether defending champion Seattle Seahawks will be able to reclaim their title and whether the aging Tom Brady can sustain another deep run in the postseason (Peyton Manning didn't).
Fans whose teams have been eliminated from contention are finding new teams to root for (while simultaneously rooting against their bitter rivals), while those still in the thick of the chase for the Lombardi Trophy are ruthlessly spreading their love of their team. So, who will rise from this madness?
The Seattle Seahawks will return to the Super Bowl. Their dominance on defense, coupled with Marshawn Lynch's groundbreaking runs and Russell Wilson's ingenious playmaking ability, will guarantee another appearance on football's biggest stage.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who are formidable due to their high-octane offense, represent the Seahawks' biggest threat in the NFC. However, that is the specialty of Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom: They shut down the passing game of elite quarterbacks (just like last year against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII). The unbeatable defense of the Seahawks will expose the weaknesses of even the strongest teams and will punch them a ticket to Arizona.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots are the team to beat. With a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, the Patriots are a dangerous team to face. Tom Brady is hungry to avenge his loss in Super Bowl XLVI to Eli Manning and the New York Giants, and will not relent until he has his hands on the Lombardi Trophy.
Boasting a perfect record at home, the Patriots will storm through the AFC playoffs with their relentless offensive production and stout defense. The additions of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, in addition to WR Brandon LaFell, will pay dividends in their race to the conference championship, while the decline of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and a continuous string of injuries put an end to Denver's season.
In Super Bowl XLIX, the best offense in the league will come out on top. In a reversal of last year's events, the unpredictable Brady will pick apart Seattle's secondary with the expertise of a Hall of Famer. The Super Bowl will be a brutal clash between two superpowers, but the mastermind behind New England's success, Bill Belichick, will deal Seattle a devastating defeat.
In the final minutes, Russell Wilson will rally his troops and bring them to a one-score game, but the Patriots' battle-tested defense will make a crucial stop. As with previous Super Bowls, a significant play will occur on special teams, and may alter the flow of the game. Upon the victory, Brady and Belichick will ride off into the sunset with their fourth Lombardi Trophy together, entrenching their legacy as the most successful quarterback-coach tandem in NFL history.
Let the Jimmy Garoppolo era in New England begin!