Things were far more simple on the last day of the season. The only question from yesterday’s games was who would win the NFC East? New York emphatically put their mark on this season by pulling away from the reeling Cowboys last night. Everything else was for seeding and bye, so far less confusion thankfully. Remember, these are the odds these teams make it to the Super Bowl, as set by me.
12-to-1: New York Giants
They are the team that’s seeing a ton of bandwagon jumping today, after last night’s dramatic win. However, the matchup against Atlanta isn’t really in their favor. Yes, the Falcons’ secondary is vulnerable, but so is the Giants’. They’ll; have trouble taking away all of Matt Ryan’s options and will have to keep Michael Turner under wraps. There’s not much of a surprise how the Giants will try to move the ball. They have the 4th-best passing attack in the NFL, throwing for nearly 300 yard a game. But in a shootout, they may have trouble getting the stop they’ll need on defense. Plus, Matt Ryan is throwing much better on the road and they won’t be intimidated by the rabid NY crowd. With a different match up, momentum will probably take them a little farther. But I have a hard time seeing them get past Atlanta. The Giants open up at the 3-point favorite, which to me is the home field advantage.
10-to-1: Detroit Lions
Welcome back to the postseason, Detroit. You couldn’t have gotten a worse draw. The top passing offense in the league awaits the 22nd-ranked pass defense. Don’t take any of this as a knock to the Lions’ offense. Matt Stafford has put together a great year, and yesterday had to sting. How do you take a loss in which you threw for 520 yards and 5 touchdowns. Well, your defense gave up 480 yards and 6 touchdowns to the Packers backup. Those are Drew Brees-like numbers. Oh, right. Detroit has to figure out how to stop Brees. Granted, the possibility of a shootout on Saturday are pretty high. Only Green Bay and New England allow more passing yards a game than New Orleans, but without much of a ground game to speak of, its hard to see the Lions stopping the Saint’s eight-game winning streak. But it’s not outside the realm of possibilities, and I think the line opened way too large, with the Lions a 10-12 point underdog.
8-to-1: Atlanta Falcons
I lied out a good case for them to get past the Giants earlier, I feel. The problem is that should they get past the Giants, a trip to Lambeau Field awaits. I’m sure revenge for last year’s upset in the playoffs would be on the Falcons mind, but they’ll run into the same problems that could bring them down in New York. Except they’ll be facing an even better passing attack. Will Matt Ryan get to a Super Bowl? I say yes, but not this year.
5-to-1: San Francisco 49ers
The surprise of the NFC this season, the 49ers have rode the conference’s best defense to their first NFC West title since 2002. The rush defense has allowed a ridiculous 3.5 yards a rush. The ground game is how they get the offense done as well, sporting the NFL’s 7th-best rushing attack. However, they will run into the Saints and Drew Brees. New Orleans always seems to get into shootouts on some level and they usually outpace whoever tries to run with them. Plus, they have the most momentum in the NFC playoffs right now. It will be a fight, but I’m not sure the Niners get out of Candlestick with a win, much less out of Lambeau if they do.
3-to-1: New Orleans Saints
I think I’ve sang the Saints’ praises enough already. I think they get the easier path to Lambeau and then it’ll be an offensive explosion on the Frozen Tundra, even if it’s…well, January in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We all know about Drew Brees, but don’t forget about Darren Sproles, whose added 1607 all-purpose yardage this season and is a frequent weapon in the passing game. They’ll get passed on, but like I said before, they can out-shootout almost every one.
2-to-1: Green Bay Packers
It’s been almost predetermined that the Packers would get back to the Super Bowl, especially after they ran off fourteen straight wins. They became the sixth team to finish the season 14-1 or better. We all know the problems they’ve ha on defense. They had the same problems last year to, when the defense stepped up big time in the playoffs. And we saw yesterday that Aaron Rodgers has a very capable back-up, should he need to step back. Matt Flynn’s explosion on a division rival should send the Packers into the divisional round on a big high. Also, they’ve already dispatched all possible opponents except for San Fransisco, who they didn’t play. Right now, it is hard to think there’s a team out there than can play with Green Bay’s offense when they are on. That being said, there is always a chance for a Seattle-like upset down the line.