The thinking in my office before the preseason began was that the two teams that just missed playing in Super Bowl LIII, the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs, were going to meet in Roman Numeral 54.
Other teams have emerged in the past four weeks that appear to enhance their prospects over our early picks.
The Saints have done nothing or suffered any crippling injuries that would diminish their chances of winning their second Super Bowl next February in Miami. But our lean to the Chiefs has had some dents put into their prospects during August. If the Chiefs are going to rise to their first Super Bowl appearance since they participated in the first and fourth, games they lost to the Green Bay Packers and won over the Minnesota Vikings, their defense is going to have to be much improved.
Despite it only being preseason, we didn’t see the same team this summer that we observed last season in their magical year. While Patrick Mahomes has promise to be among the all-time greats at his position, quarterbacks will often have off years the season following their breakthrough campaign.
Everything about Mahomes screams success, but based on a year-to-year motivational chart, his team does not have positive indicators entering 2019. Other American Football Conference squads have revealed more promise this summer, and that pushes the Chiefs out of our top spot.
Next Wednesday, after all the numbers are crunched from previous seasons and this year’s summer results, we will make our call on the Super Bowl LIV matchup. As for now, we throw one caution to Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints teammates; there is a team in the NFC that could remain your nemesis, and we think they are going to win the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady is looking to guide the New England Patriots into their fourth consecutive Super Bowl, having won the title in two of the previous three seasons. The only team to have played in four straight Super Bowls was the Buffalo Bills, 1990 - 1993, and they lost all four attempts at the Lombardi Trophy.
It can be argued that what maintained the level of excellence for the Bills to advance to four straight Super Bowls was the edge gained by the sting of losing the previous year. When I was with the Oakland Raiders, we had a similar pang to get back to it after playoff losses. In the year the Raiders won their first Super Bowl, 1976, they were pushing against losses the prior three seasons in AFC championship games against the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The fact that the Patriots won a Super Bowl with an incredible comeback, then returned to the game the following year, a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and then won it again last season, is an amazing feat. But, it is also not the seeds from which more success follows.
The Patriots first Super Bowl win was against the Los Angeles Rams to complete the 2001 season. As two touchdown underdogs, upstart Tom Brady and his teammates downed the heavily favored Rams, 20-17.
Last February, the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl, downing the Rams again, this time as a slight favorite and in the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history, 13-3. Doesn’t it just serve poetic justice that what started as a huge upset over Kurt Warner, could end against a young, and on that day, an over-matched Jared Goff.
The NFC is not going to be represented by New Orleans in the Super Bowl, and the AFC winner is not Kansas City or New England. Removing those three teams either makes finding the conference winners easier, or makes the task impossible.
If we are right about it not being the Saints, Chiefs or Patriots, we have really narrowed the viable possibilities left on the board. On Wednesday, this space will be devoted to why and who we expect to see in Super Bowl LIV.