It’s never too early to start looking forward to the Super Bowl (let’s be honest, most of us began this year as soon as the last of the ticker-tape fell earth in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium), but here at NFL Fans UK, we’ve decided that Week 10 is as good a time as any to start looking at Super Bowl LIV in earnest, assessing (and guessing) who might be the last team standing in Miami.
The Patriots look well set to make it four Super Bowl appearances in a row; 49ers fans are starting to dream like it’s 1995 (when the Super Bowl was held in… yep, you guessed it, Miami). Saints, Ravens and Packers fans may also be letting their minds drift to what clothes they may need for a February trip to Florida. Here, our writers make a case for those who have legitimate dreams of lifting the Lombardi trophy in February.
San Francisco 49ers
They are by far the most complete team right now in the NFL. Jimmy G is having some sort of year in which he will come back to haunt Bill and TB12 in the Super Bowl while also on his way to his first-ever League AND Super Bowl MVP titles. The offensive power the Niners have is incredible and the defense has been immaculate. It’s almost amazing how at the start of the season these guys were as wide as 40/1 to win the Super Bowl but it has to be said, currently sitting at 8-1 in the NFC, they are going to take some stopping, and I honestly don’t believe that is possible even despite showing some signs that mistakes can be made in their loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Many will disagree and say that falling to 8-1 has opened up the NFC race but minor setbacks are always made when you are chasing the NFL’s richest prize.
Tom Wade, NFL Fans UK creator
Ranked fourth by many bookies – at around 7/1 – the Baltimore Ravens are a surprise package this year but riding a five-game winning streak, it’s time to take them seriously. Running back/quarterback hybrid Lamar Jackson is a rare talent. Their dismantling of the woeful Bengals on Sunday saw Jackson achieve a perfect passer rating in two games in one season and he could end the year as the first player with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing – that’s insane. His moves are straight out of a video game and it’s not just the media pundits who are purring in delight: entire stadiums are chanting “MVP! MVP!” Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman has other weapons at his disposal too, with Mark Ingram co-driving the league’s top-ranked rushing attack, plus there’s WR Marquise Brown and Jackson’s favourite target, tight end Mark Andrews. And the defense seems to force turnovers and run in pick-sixes at will. They recorded a two-score win over Seattle (Russell who?) and, in putting up 37 points against their main AFC Conference rivals, the previously undefeated Patriots, they rushed for 210 yards on their first three possessions. I can see the Ravens winning the AFC North, taking a well-earned breather during Wild Card week and rumbling all the way to Miami.
Sean Tyler, Cincinnati Bengals writer
New England Patriots
Why? Because Tom Brady. Because Bill Belichick. Because defense wins championships and this side has conceded only 98 points through nine games (while averaging 30 points a game on offense). Because Julian Edelman remains criminally underrated and now has Mohamed Sanu, a man ready to emerge from the shadow of Julio Jones, to ease the burden. Because they have been there and done it in every conceivable way. Because the “unbeaten season” perennial monkey has taken his bow already this season and they have one sole focus remaining. Because they can rest up in Week 17 when the Dolphins come to town. Because you’d be a fool to bet against them. Just because.
Charles Walford, Philadelphia Eagles writer
Green Bay Packers
The NFC got tossed up in the air in Week 10 with the 49ers, Saints, Cowboys and Rams all losing. That wasn’t the case in the snow at Lambeau as the much maligned Green Bay Packers defense stood tall against the best running back in football, stuffing him at the one-yard line to win the game. Aaron Rodgers looked like he might be rounding into vintage Rodgers form but there was evidence that some things still need to be ironed out on the offense, and that’s a scary thought about an 8-2 team. Aaron Jones is having himself a breakout year, helping to take some of the load off the sure-fire Hall Of Fame QB. The defense showed it can play at a high level in the first few games and they will need to rediscover that form in December/January. Home-field advantage is going to be huge, with the 49ers losing to the Seahawks and games against the Giants, Redskins, Bears, Vikings and Lions left the Packers could steal the one seed in the NFC. Before those games, though, comes a huge one in the Golden City against the 49ers – winner takes the one seed. It all goes through Lambeau.
Ryan Daly, NFL Fans UK betting expert
Monday Night Football served to remind everyone that Seattle still raises their game for the biggest of nights. Jadeveon Clowney showed up everywhere and in a contract year will want to carry that form through the playoffs looking for that payday. Oh and MVP front-runner Russell Wilson is desperate for that award, and that desire to win the coveted title can send the NFC Championship through the Pacific North-West. Seahawks are currently 5-0 on the road, and that will help should San Francisco or Green Bay have home-field advantage. The Seahawks’ next three games are on prime time and the likelihood is the 49ers trip to the CenturyLink will also be flexed, and Pete Carroll and his team shine in those games. Bobby Wagner, Tyler Lockett and Josh Gordon will all play a huge part and watch out for Shaquill Griffin making a sneaky run at All-Pro at cornerback. It will be far from pretty, but at 8-2 with a points differential of +21, the Seahawks know they can win the tight games with Russ marching up the field over and over in the fourth quarter.
Dave Sayers, Seattle Seahawks writer