AFC: Houston Texans
With the likes of Matt Shaub under center and Arian Foster alongside in the back field, Houston already has a threatening offense. However, once adding guys like Andre Johnson, Keyshawn Martin, and DeAndre Thompson to the mix, it is a wonder Houston is not a more popular pick for the AFC.
For those who argue “Defense wins championships,” they might have just made the argument that much better. The Texan’s defense boast one the scariest men in the game of football by the name J.J. “Swat” Watt that is going to be terror for every offense that has to face him this year.
Along with Watt is supporting cast that I believe many are sleeping on. Brian Cushing, Kareem Jackson, and D.J. Swearinger are just a few of the guys that Offensive Coordinators will have to worry about, once they figure out how to double team Watt.
NFC: Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson had an outstanding rookie season that far exceeded all expectations (if there were any), and he seems to have only gotten better in the off-season. This means he is even more dangerous for the defenses he will face in his sophomore season.
Also, with both Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate poised for break out seasons at the wide-receiver position, Wilson should have a plethora of targets to throw the ball to this year.
Plus, what is probably one the scariest things for defenses this year is the fact that Wilson has taken some of the load off of Marshawn Lynch’s shoulders, allowing him to become one of the most dangerous running backs in the league, but still not receiving all of the attention a player of his caliber really needs to be able to be stopped.
The Seahawks have one of the youngest, most talented defenses in the game of football today. With the leadership of defensive end Red Bryant and linebacker Heath Farwell as team captains, the Seahawks D is definitely the thing that could carry them to a Super Bowl victory.
My Super Bowl Score Prediction: Seahawks win in a physical game 31 to 21.
– Will Weber, Contributing Writer
AFC: Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, and he seems to be getting better. Through two games, Manning amassed nearly 800 yards and 9 TDs without a single interception, benefited by now knowing the Broncos playbook and rebuilding his arm strength.
Manning has no shortage of targets to fire at. Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker form a dangerous and seemingly uncoverable receiving corps. If you do manage to defend them, Manning will unflinchingly strike the surprising Julius Thomas at Tight End, or hand the ball off.
The Broncos running game has been questionable thus far. Rookie Montee Ball, a record breaking collegiate back from Wisconsin, should mature and contribute more halfway through the season.
The Broncos defense, second in the league a year ago, has bolstered its roster with offseason moves. The secondary, which was embarrassed by the Ravens in a playoff loss to end the 2012 campaign, is strengthened by up-and-coming Duke Ihenacho and veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Von Miller and Champ Bailey will be back in plenty of time for the playoffs, making the defense capable of restraining any team in the league.
Manning struggles in the playoffs, but the Broncos have so many other strengths that they can overcome a bad game from the QB. Manning will retire after the game if they win.
NFC: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks, led by second year man Russell Wilson, are done surprising. They now have to meet expectations.
In 2012, Seattle posted an 11-5 season that took them two games deep into the playoffs, eventually falling to the number one seeded Atlanta Falcons by 2 points.
Russell Wilson was a major part of that, and with Marshawn Lynch behind him, their game is as exciting as it is powerful.
Much of the credit goes to the offensive line, which allows the duo to do their glamorous gallivanting.
The Seahawks defense is stout, good enough for the fourth best in 2012.
Seattle is stocked with talent in the defensive backfield. Between Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, it is hard to tell who Seattle’s best is, but quarterbacks should beware of the brilliant interception-generating outfit.
The Seahawks claim that they have another advantage over other teams: a 12th man. CenturyLink Field is widely considered to be an advantage due to the boisterous record-setting crowds.
If Seattle plays well enough in the regular season, hosting playoff games should help them. Percy Harvin should return late in the season, strengthening the already prolific offense.
The Seahawks are a young team, but they have playoff experience.
My Super Bowl Score Prediction: Broncos win 24-31.
– Andy O’Brien, Sports Editor