The Patriots, on bye this week, are the favorites to win Super Bowl XXLI after completing the first 16-0 season in NFL history. Which teams have a chance to beat them? Here are the five teams who have the best shot.
5. Green Bay Packers
Tom Brady received 49 of 50 NFL MVP votes. The other one went to Brett Favre, who is the one reason not to count out the Packers as Super Bowl contenders. With the breakout season by running back Ryan Grant, they are no longer one dimensional. The Packers have to be on this list just for what kind of storylines a Favre-Brady Super Bowl would have.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s almost hard to believe that this team is as good as it is. David Garrard has thrown 18 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones Drew combine to give the Jaguars one of the best running attacks in the league. It’s hard to see Garrard beating Brady in a shootout, which any Patriots playoff game is likely to become. If the Jaguars can get an early lead, however, they have the type of offense that can hold it.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Want a team that can win a shootout? Tony Romo has as many weapons at his disposal as any quarterback in the league not named Tom Brady. Terrell Owens and Jason Witten are good enough to give any defense fits. And Tony Romo isn’t holding for field goals anymore. The biggest doubt, however, is whether the Cowboys defense can stop Brady and the Patriots offense. In their regular season meeting, Brady tore the Cowboys apart in the second half, turning the game into a blowout.
2. San Diego Chargers
Last January, the Patriots came into San Diego and upset the 14-2 Chargers. The Chargers would love to even the score this year. The Chargers have to be the least predictable team in the league, sometimes looking like legit contenders and sometimes looking like a team that doesn’t know how to win. I would not be surprised to see them lose tomorrow. At the same time, they have as much talent as almost anyone and are a team no one wants to catch when they are hot.
1. Indianapolis Colts
This is the game football fans have wanted all year. When the two teams played during the regular season, it was billed as Super Bowl XXL and a half. Peyton used a career-defining second half comeback to beat the Pats on the way to the Super Bowl last year. Since the Pats won the regular season meeting, the Colts will have to beat the unbeaten Patriots at Foxborough. With receiver Marvin Harrison hurt, Peyton doesn’t have nearly the plethora of options that Brady does. When these teams play, it’s always a good game and it’s hard to believe they won’t meet again this post-season.
By Andrew Vitelli