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We seem to think that it is pretty clear that the four teams left standing in the playoffs really aren't the best teams for NFL betting fans to back in 2010. However, with right combination of luck, skill, and timely plays, the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers have made it to the NFL's version of the Final Four, and one of the four teams will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy in February. Which team is the best of the bunch? We make our Superbowl picks and break down the key facets to the four teams still alive in the postseason.
Ranking the Passing Games: It probably would've taken us being in a bit of a parallel universe to think that both Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler would be in the AFC and NFC Championship Games respectively, but that's exactly what has happened. We believe that Cutler is clearly the worst of the bunch, as he really doesn't have any major targets that he can throw to on a regular basis, and he still has that problem with throwing interceptions that turns up every so often. Names like TE Greg Olsen, WR Johnny Knox, and the likes just don't scare us. Sanchez has all of a sudden won four playoff games, all on the road, in the last two seasons, and he now has double the playoff wins in his career that any Jet quarterback has in team history. There is no doubt that we would rather have the combination of WR Braylon Edwards, WR Jerricho Cotchery, WR Santonio Holmes, and TE Dustin Keller than any other group in the league, but it clearly isn't enough to make up for the fact that Sanchez isn't even a Top 15 quarterback in the NFL today. The Packers clearly have the QB du jour right now, and the reason that many are making their Super Bowl XLV picks on them is because of Aaron Rodgers. Sure, we know that there isn't a player in the league that has made more plays than Rodgers in the playoffs, as he has thrown six TDs and has yet to be picked off. He is putting on a run that is nothing like we have ever seen from a Green Bay quarterback before, something that we never thought we would saying knowing that No. 4 isn't in town anymore. Rodgers has a great crop of receivers as well, but this unit would have looked a lot better with TE Jermichael Finley in the fold. All four of Donald Driver, James Jones, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson had at least 75 receiving yards last week against the Atlanta Falcons as well. Our choice though, is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that's in spite of the fact that this offensive line looks like Swiss cheese and got Ben Roethlisberger sacked six times against the Baltimore Ravens. There is no doubt that Big Ben is the man that we want making plays for us down the stretch, and he has a fantastic crop of receivers to work with as well, most notably Hines Ward. There's no glitz and no glamour, but there are two rings for this offense to flash right now, and that's something that we cannot ignore. Super Bowl Preview for Passing Games: 1) Pittsburgh 2) Green Bay 3) New York 4) Chicago
Ranking the Running Games: There isn't much that is all that flashy about any of these four ground games on the road to Super Bowl betting action. The Packers are clearly the worst of the bunch in spite of the fact that James Starks really has come out of nowhere to put up some great numbers. However, if you fed us the football 25 times in a game, we'd be able to come up with 60 yards just like Starks did against the Falcons as well last week. Chicago is in terrible shape right now with its ground game as well, as we aren't so certain that Matt Forte really has the ability to carry a team to beat the Superbowl lines. The Jets know that Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson have all sorts of ways that they can get yards and score, and we have to remember that this is really the only team in the bunch that utilizes the Wildcat look with WR Brad Smith if he is healthy. We know that New York has the toughest matchup this week, but we tend to believe that the Jets get the nod over Rashard Mendenhall and the Steelers ground game. Don't get us wrong. We absolutely love Mendenhall and think that Pittsburgh might have had the steal of the entire NFL Draft when it got the former Illinois Fighting Illini runner late in the first round of the draft two years ago. Still, LT looks like he has found the fountain of youth, and there are just more options for Head Coach Rex Ryan and company to rely on. Superbowl XLV Preview for Rushing Games: 1) New York 2) Pittsburgh 3) Chicago 4) Green Bay
Ranking the Defenses: Now is when we're really splitting hairs, as the argument could really be made that any of these defenses could be the best in the league, or the worst of the four. One thing is for certain, and that's that we have four of the Top 5 or 6 defenses in the entire NFL here left in the second season, and this road to Super Bowl XLV betting action is going to be gritty. The Packers might be the most notable bunch on paper thanks to LB Clay Matthews and the fact that Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers knows how to get after quarterbacks, but this is a unit that has really folded in close games at times this year. We know that DB Tramon Williams already has three picks, including the backbreaking pick six against the Falcons right before halftime, but there is just something about this unit that we don't like in the run to the Super Bowl. The Jets have had some stinker games as well, and we know that they can give up points in bunches at times. There isn't a more feared defense in the league than this one though, and it's really hard to argue with a unit that has kept QB Tom Brady and QB Peyton Manning, two future Hall of Famers and arguably the two best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL down to a total of 37 points in two games in the postseason. We know that Chicago has the most underrated unit in the bunch of these four, but we look at the job that these guys have done against Rodgers and the Packers this year and smile. There is a real argument that DE Julius Peppers could be the Defensive Player of the Year in spite of the fact that he only had eight sacks this year, but he is the most disruptive force in the league, bar none. LB Brian Urlacher and LB Lance Briggs know how to get this team to the Super Bowl, and they did it with QB Rex Grossman calling the shots. However, the staple of defenses in the NFL is that of the Steelers, and it isn't even close if Troy Polamalu is healthy. The former USC Trojan is all over the field 100% of the time, and there is no man that delivers more devastating blows that James Harrison. You can say that there were 22 points given up to the Jets earlier this season, but nine of those came via special teams or the offense, just as there were directly seven and indirectly three more points allowed to the Ravens last week thanks to poor play by the offense and the special teams. Preview for Super Bowl XLV Betting for Defenses: 1) Pittsburgh 2) Chicago 3) New York 4) Green Bay