From the Press Box: Ravens-Saints set for Super Bowl in 2021

We are just five days away from the day we didn’t think we’d see: NFL Kick-off.

Kansas City hosts Houston in a rematch from last year’s postseason and the Chiefs will look to defend their Super Bowl Championship and are early favorites to be the first to repeat since the 2004-05 New England Patriots.

But I don’t think that’ll be the case this year. Repeating as NFL Champions is very difficult, that’s why no one has done it in 15 years.

That being said, I think we will see a new pair of teams playing the Big Game.

In picking my favorites, I looked at the most important variable in a pandemic year: continuity.

Yes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Tom Brady Sweepstakes and are uber-talented across the board.

But so was the Denver Broncos in Peyton Manning’s first year on the squad and they lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.

The race for the AFC Championship is Kansas City, Baltimore and then everybody else. The gap between those two and the rest of the AFC is Grand Canyon-wide. 

Here are my predictions for division winners in 2020:

AFC East

This is the year Buffalo finally gets over the hump and wins the AFC East. The Patriots no longer have Brady, the Jets are a hot mess and the Miami Dolphins are continuing to rebuild. However, I would not be surprised if New England or Miami win one of the three Wild Cards this year.

AFC West

Kansas City will likely cake-walk through the AFC West. Sticking to my continuity rule, the Raiders are coming off the heels of a move to Las Vegas. The Los Angeles Chargers probably have the second-most talented team in the division, but they have a new quarterback. Denver has a new-look offense, but didn’t get to start revving it’s engine until August. If L.A. doesn’t get a Wild Card I’d be shocked, however.

AFC North

The Baltimore Ravens are my favorites to win this division. The Pittsburgh Steelers will have Ben Roethlisberger back and could make a run at de-throning the Ravens, but I still think Baltimore is far more talented. The Bengals have Joe Burrow in his rookie year and the Browns have a new head coach. 

AFC South

Believe it or not, but I like Indianapolis to win the division more than the Houston Texans. General manager Bill O’ Brien went and made quarterback DeShaun Watson’s job more difficult by trading away wideout D’Andre Hopkins to Arizona. That being said, Indianapolis is more talented on both sides of the ball than Houston and added quarterback Phillip Rivers who played well under head coach Frank Reich in 2014-15 when he was the offensive coordinator in San Diego.

NFC North

This is Minnesota division to lose. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a run-game but the Packers neglected to get a wide receiver for their franchise quarterback. If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy this year the Lions could make this a three-way race, however. 

NFC East

I know everyone is high on Dallas picking up Mike McCarthy as the head coach. But again, continuity. I lean more toward the Philadelphia Eagles to win the division. Mainly because quarterback Carson Wentz carried the team to a 9-7 record and had no one to throw to. Well they fixed that problem by drafting TCU’s Jalen Reagor (although he is injured at the moment) and Boise State’s John Hightower. The New York Giants and the Red...Washington Football Team have new coaches.

NFC South

This is a two-team race between the Tompa Bay Gronkaneers and the New Orleans Saints. The Atlanta Falcons could make it a three-team race, however. I am leaning with continuity and going to go with the Saints to win the division.

NFC West

Another two-team race between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers only made their team better by adding a pass-rusher Javon Kinlaw and signed offensive linemen Trent Williams. The Seahawks helped their offensive line and defense. The 49ers are hurting at wideout and could have a Super Bowl loss hangover so I am going to go with Seattle. Keep an eye on Arizona, though.

AFC picks: Kansas City, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Buffalo Bills. Wild cards: Houston, Los Angeles Chargers and Miami.

NFC picks: Philadelphia, Seattle, New Orleans, Minnesota. Wild cards: Arizona, Tampa Bay, Green Bay.

My picks for the Super Bowl are Baltimore and New Orleans with the Ravens winning it all 33-24.

John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached at pampanewseditor@gmail.com of find him on Twitter: @jcl1987.

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