Best Super Bowls that NFL fans should see

Every season the media and fans make their personal bets on who will make the big championship game for the glory of a Lombardi Trophy. Watching and hoping that your favorite team makes it to the Super Bowl every year is half the fun of watching football. Some years give us legendary championships such as Super Bowl LII having the Philadelphia Eagles winning the prized trophy with their backup quarterback. Other years leave us with very forgetful games that leave us wondering how either of those two teams even made it to a Super Bowl. I’ve comprised a list of a top five Super Bowl games that every fan needs to see in the near future, whether you know you want it or not.

Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots

This Super Bowl should be very self-explanatory. A Rodgers versus Brady Super Bowl would be the biggest Clash of the Titans quarterback battle since Dan Marino faced Joe Montana. The biggest disappointment in the past eight years is the fact that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady haven’t created their own Bradshaw/Staubach rivalry against each other. Fortunately for football fans, Green Bay and New England play this year during the regular season. It may be the last time the two future Hall of Fame QB’s play each other ever again. It may not be a Super Bowl, but it still should be an interesting game.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans

Hopefully, if this game ever takes place it will happen on a year that FOX is hosting the Super Bowl just to call in Mike Judge and make a special King of the Hill promotional episode. What should forever be deemed as the Hank Hill Bowl, the people behind the scenes will need to go all out in order to keep an everything-is-bigger-in-Texas theme. If fans were lucky, they should hope this Super Bowl ends up happening within the next five years in order to see DeShaun Watson and Ezekiel Elliot go toe-to-toe. Imagine how much quarterback pressure can be in place between JJ Watt and DeMarcus Lawrence. Hank Hill is already shuddering at the thought.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills

Minnesota has been locked as a fan-favorite to make the Super Bowl this upcoming season. Buffalo, maybe not so much. The Bills have finally ended their playoff drought last year, but they look to be miles away from obtaining a Super Bowl berth. The reason this Super Bowl would have major hype lingering around it is that these two franchises have made the most Super Bowl appearances without ever winning a Lombardi Trophy. There have been nine Super Bowl losses between these two teams combined. Having Minnesota and Buffalo duking it out in the ultimate championship game would be for the highest of stakes on both ends. One team will finally end its streak of bad luck, while the other team becomes the official laughing stock of the NFL for most losses in a Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Super Bowl that should be deemed as The Battle For Los Angeles. There are a lot of layers that can make this game great. It’s two franchises who very recently moved to the L.A. area, two franchises who are scrambling to establish their new fan base, and two teams who are actually building for success simultaneously. Fans may grumble that having two teams from the same city will appear to tarnish the Super Bowl. That may be the case if this Super Bowl occurs twenty years from now, but if the NFL fans are lucky enough to see this game happen within the next five years — it can be historic. The only thing that can truly put the cherry on top of this championship game is if the stadium that hosts the Super Bowl is the new Los Angeles stadium being built in Inglewood.

Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns

Ever see a trainwreck so bad that you can’t look away no matter how horrible you know it can be? That could be this Super Bowl. The only two franchises that have never made an appearance in any championship games during the Super Bowl era, they can finally clear their name of that disrespect at the same time. As much as people may want to complain about how bad the game would be, sometimes it’s great to cheer for mediocrity on pure irony. Remember the terrible Seahawks vs. Cardinals game that went into overtime on Sunday Night Football only for two missed field goals to end the game in a tie? Detroit vs. Cleveland could be that same vein of terribly amazing football. Imagine a Super Bowl that goes into overtime and the final play being a safety making the final score 2-0. People will forever talk about the worst Super Bowl they ever saw and remembered for being the best Super Bowl in history.

For What It’s Worth

The economy is booming and financial investments aren’t as high risk as before. The NFL is no exception, but replace literal dollars with raw player talent. New stars keep emerging every year across the league. While some of these players help contribute toward a successful franchise, other teams seem to fall short. Here is a following list of teams to either buy in the hype, or sell out your shares from the bandwagon.

 

Buying: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams don’t need a hard sell in order to want to invest in their franchise. Jared Goff is going to be in his third year and continues to look more confident under center. Todd Gurley is a strong contender for being the best running back in the NFL. What separates this team apart from everyone else is how much talent they brought in during this past off-season. Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters in the secondary. Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald up front bringing the pressure. Match that with Wade Philips as defensive coordinator and the young established Sean McVay. It’s hard to find a weakness on this team right now.

 

Selling: Seattle Seahawks

Until Jimmy Garappolo wins either a Super Bowl or the MVP, it’s safe to say that Russell Wilson is still the best quarterback in the NFC West. Unfortunately for Wilson, there isn’t much support for him at the moment. The off-season was pretty vacant for Seattle as we watched the monumental Legion of Boom finally crumble. Shaquem Griffin getting drafted to the same team as his twin brother was a heart-warming story to watch unfold. The rest of the draft, however, felt very lackluster. Wilson has a lot of weight to carry on his back for the next few years. They are definitely heading into rebuild mode, but with the 49ers and Rams on the rise, don’t expect much from Seattle for the rest of this decade.

 

Buying: Green Bay Packers

I know, how biased of me. A blog that has Cheesehead in the name and wants to pick the Packers. Although there are plenty of reasons why the Packers are a good investment. The number one person to bet on is Aaron Rodgers, who will be hungry for a shot at the title once again. Take a short hop down memory lane and Rodgers has brought this team to the NFC Championship game three times in the past eight years. Green Bay did the smart thing and finally cut ties with Dom Capers to bring in Mike Pettine, a guy who has never had a defense ranked below tenth place. Packers also had one of the better drafts in the NFL, especially in the first three rounds. Green Bay continues to look better on paper this year, even after losing fan-favorite Jordy Nelson. Although the Minnesota Vikings are a worthy adversary, it is always safe to bet on the King of the North.

 

Selling: Detroit Lions

Every day more analysts are hyping up the Detroit Lions. People should pump the brakes a little on Matt Patricia taking over head coaching duties. He has all the potential in the world to be able to turn Detroit into a deadly team. But between the competition of the Packers and Vikings, it won’t be happening soon. Let’s also not forget that as a defensive coordinator Patricia had absolutely no answers for Philadelphia in the Super Bowl. It’s more realistic to allow him a few years to build a team before jumping the gun and claiming that he’s going to steal the division. Matthew Stafford will go down statistically as the Lion’s best QB ever to be on their roster. Unfortunately, if he couldn’t make a deep run with Calvin Johnson, chances are it won’t be happening this year either.

 

Buying: Los Angeles Chargers

It’s bizarre how two mediocre franchises seemed to flourish as soon as they moved to the City of Angels. The Chargers are almost a twin copy of their NFC counterpart when it comes to depth. Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, and Melvin Gordon make a great triplet to get the offense moving. Casey Hayward one of the best shut-down corners in the NFL, only to be complemented by drafting Derwin James on the other side. They still have huge weapons such as Joey Bosa and Marvin Ingram which helped bring their defense to be ranked third last year in the NFL. Their biggest weakness right now is being forced to share the StubHub Center, which feels like being an away team for sixteen games. The rest of the AFC West has been rebuilding and essentially don’t have an identity. Now is the time for the Chargers to strike and flaunt their identity to the rest of the AFC.

 

Selling: Oakland Raiders

There are so many potholes with this team that Jon Gruden feels more like a construction worker than a coach. So many questions are left unanswered for Oakland right now. Did Jack Del Rio really deserve to lose his job just because his last name isn’t ‘Gruden’? Did Derek Carr have a fluke year, or did he show his true colors? Is Amari Cooper overrated? Can the Raiders get a good running game with Marshawn Lynch, or is he past his prime? Will Jordy Nelson be a good replacement for Michael Crabtree? Oakland didn’t have an impressive draft to bring any of these questions at ease. Gruden brought in free agency talent but also has made his roster the oldest in the NFL. It’s hard to look too far into the future with the towering fact that they are moving to Las Vegas soon. Maybe by then they can mimic the Golden Knights and try to reach a championship.

Buying: Houston Texans

DeShaun Watson had the most impressive rookie start we’ve ever seen before getting hurt last year. It’s been easy to find a seat on the hype train for this young QB ever since he beat Nick Saban’s Alabama team. Now he has DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller as lethal weapons. Watson isn’t the only player anticipated to return, however. JJ Watt will be back and ready to throw some linemen and quarterbacks to the ground. Watt’s attitude and work ethic prove contagious for the entire team. That should be motivation for their talented new safety, Tyrann Mathieu. Houston has a tough road ahead of them as the south is by far the strongest division in the AFC. Between Jaguars’ defense, Titans’ roster depth, and Andrew Luck returning with the Colts, the road to the playoffs will be brutal. The Texans show no fear as they look toward their rivals to win the division. That courage is worthy enough to invest in this team.

Selling: Carolina Panthers

Make no mistake about this sell: Carolina is not a bad team by any means. Former MVP Cam Newton will always pose a threat to any opponent he faces. Luke Kuechly may go down as this generation’s Brian Urlacher. The Panthers’ downfall doesn’t come within bad coaching or a bad roster. It’s simply the terrible luck of how competitive the NFC South is lately. Three teams made the post-season last year and the chances of that happening again are slim to none. Somebody is going to have to fall off the wild card spot. Compare Carolina’s roster to the Saints and the Falcons and it appears they’ve drawn the short end of the stick. We may see the same scenario that the AFC West had a few years ago where the Panthers can have a 10-6 record and still miss the playoffs.

The Saints Keep Marching In

“Who dat! Who dat! Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?”

This is the chant that has been blaring across Louisiana like a horn from a trumpet for the past six weeks now. The New Orleans Saints officially have the longest win streak of the 2017 season with six wins in a row — a sentiment that no one saw coming after the Saints started off 0-2 for the third season in a row. Energy has been jolted back in to the city of New Orleans after years of starving. Fans were hungry to have that taste of familiarity again; the taste of being on top. Except the bellies can’t ever be full until the playoffs, and even then the drive won’t stop until the Super Bowl. So the question remains that the fans continue to mock towards the rest of the NFL. Who can beat the Saints right now?

Behind the ruckus of New Orleans fans marching towards victory, whispers will murmur in the alleys of being over-rated. “They have a weak schedule,” the pessimistic will say. Looking back at the first nine weeks, it can’t be that simple. Week one was a loss to the Vikings, a team that still had a healthy Sam Bradford, a very tough defense, and are under the radar for having home field advantage at U.S. Bank Stadium. New Orleans still trying to find a way to use Adrian Peterson, and their defense didn’t click yet. Week two was another loss against the Patriots, who needed a big game as a come back after being embarrassed by the Kansas City Chiefs the week prior. Saints still had the same problems as week one, and it didn’t fix itself until week three. The rumors began flying around the news: Saints going 0-3 again for the third year in a row. Sean Payton was on the hot seat, fearing for his job by the end of the season. A big divisional game against the Carolina Panthers and the Saints annihilated them. Week four Saints travel to London and completely skunked the Miami Dolphins — the same Miami team who beat the incredible Los Angeles Rams — and we saw the defense create their identity. By week six Saints cut their losses and drop the dead weight of Adrian Peterson to allow a highway lane for the impressive rookie Alvin Kamara. They came to Lambeau and beat the Packers sans Aaron Rodgers, and despite two interceptions in the first half after the rain, the second half Drew Brees does what he does best and proves once again why he’s one of the best to play his position. Week seven the Saints beat an under-rated Chicago defense and a talented Mitch Trubisky, and week eight go against a very injured Tampa Bay team only to reign higher on the NFC South totem pole.

New Orleans has rhythm, they have an identity, and can find more ways to win other than relying on their 38 year old star quarterback. Fans in Louisiana haven’t seen a good defense since Bounty Gate, and the feeling is a sight for sore eyes. Even if a defense has great pass protection, it’s hard to stop the one-two punch between Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Kansas City Chiefs get a lot of attention for having Kareem Hunt as a dangerous threat in the back field, but as Hunt has been slowing down the past few weeks, it seems as though Alvin Kamara only heats up more.

Talk about a polar opposite between the teams. When Kansas City started the season at 5-0 people only talked about how they are true Super Bowl contenders. Since then the Chiefs have been 1-3 the past few weeks, and Saints haven’t lost a game since week two. Despite the drastic changes, no one speaks of the Saints going to the Super Bowl at all. Brees and Payton already have Super Bowl experience together, so it doesn’t seem unfathomable. Perhaps it’s because they’ll have to go through the Rams and Eagles, both of whom scored 51 points on their opponent in week 9, before getting to the biggest game of the year. New Orleans will be able to answer one of those questions in week 12 where they will face off against the Rams away in Los Angeles. It’s no question the toughest game that the Saints will face to face the rest of the year, but until that game happens, prepare to continue hearing the who dat chant echo across the airwaves.

Whose Catch Is It, Anyway?

Once again the NFL has updated it’s rules and regulations for the 2017 season. The biggest one that they focused on was penalizing end zone celebrations more. Taunting has already been established as a big no-no, and pretty much any celebration where a player touches the opposing team’s player is an automatic flag. Originally it seemed that almost any touchdown celebration was going to become a penalty, but the major rule change was that no celebrations can be “sexual”. It can probably go down as the unofficial Antonio Brown rule. Of course there were slight changes to what possession is, which seems to contradict every single year. Week 6 gave us the worst example of this complaint, and it has been lingering for years around the NFL. What in the hell exactly is a catch?

A good place to start is to reference what the official NFL rule book has listed as a catch. The explanation goes as follows:

A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:

  1. secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
  2. touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and
  3. maintains control of the ball after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, until he has the ball long enough to clearly become a runner. A player has the ball long enough to become a runner when, after his second foot is on the ground, he is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps (see 3-2-7-Item 2).

Note: If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball will not be considered a loss of possession. He must lose control of the ball in order to rule that there has been a loss of possession.

If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any part of his body to the ground, it is not a catch.

The first two parts make sense. As long as someone behind the line of scrimmage (assuming the QB) throws a ball forward and another eligible receiver secures the ball without dropping it on the ground. The second part being that both feet are in bounds. Easy enough to understand, we’re on the same page thus far. The third part though… that’s the gray area that none of the officiating crews can agree on. There were three particular games where part 3 of the catch rule was stretched to it’s breaking point.

The Green Bay vs. Minnesota game is receiving huge buzz because Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in the first quarter, but the bigger story that no one wants to cover is how messed up the calls were on particular catches. There were four instances that the play was either challenged or reviewed by the booth to determine what the call was, and each time the outcome had everyone extremely confused. At one point Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, and Mike Pereira all were scratching their heads on the disagreement from the official’s calls. It got to a point that Aikman was flat out mocking the NFL that nobody can establish was an actual catch is. Here is a play that was set up to explain how it was: Green Bay were on the goal line and it was third down. Brett Hundley snapped the ball and threw a forward pass to Ty Montgomery (part 1 of the rule) who was wide open. Ty Montgomery had both feet in bounds (part 2) and turned his body forward, fell down, was not touched, and then continued running towards the end zone. After the ball crossed the goal line it dropped out of his hands, and although initially called a touchdown, the ruling was overturned from the review. The question though, is what overturned it? According to part 3 of the rules Ty Montgomery he held the ball long enough to become an established runner, both feet were on the ground, he was capable of avoiding impeding contact, tucked the ball, and turned up field. The only time the ball hit the ground was already when the ball crossed the goal line, which has already been established is considered a touchdown. At one point was there an infraction to cause an over ruling towards the play? The Minnesota Vikings also were handed a slap in the face with a play where Adam Thielen caught a ball, and despite his hands remained in control of the ball the entire time, neither feet touched out of bounds. They actually didn’t touch the ground at all, and because of such turn of events they ruled it not a catch. Before the official call, Troy Aikman reminded the audience how the NFL discarded the “force-out” rule, in which a defender can’t push an eligible receiver out of bounds in air to make it a non-catch. Despite the friendly reminder, the officials called it a non-catch. Perhaps that particular officiating crew didn’t get the memo that force-outs aren’t a thing anymore.

Things looked much worse in New York this past week, which now has the infamous call at the end of the game. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the tight end for the Jets, caught the pass and as he was falling across the goal line, as he was hitting the pylon, the ball switched hands without touching the ground, and it was ruled a fumble. I repeat: THE BALL DID NOT TOUCH THE GROUND. Just like the Ty Montgomery situation, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught the ball. He turned up field. Planted both feet. Tucked the ball for possession. Was aware of on-coming traffic. Everything that is in the rules to be a catch, and was ruled as such, but was called a fumble anyway? It should be said that being a sports reffing official is a very tough job, and these guys are trained for years to do what they do. There is always a margin of error as they are only human, but there hasn’t been that bad of a call since Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game. It’s almost as if the officials want the conspiracy theorists to add more traction for the New England Patriots still cheating.

What is the solution for determining what is a catch? We can’t blame the officials on not being able the agree on the rules, because the rules are vague. There’s too many “if’s” for a solution that should be clear cut and precise. Growing up the ’90’s every kid playing back yard football understood a “two-step rule”. If a receiver has the ball in his hands, is creating momentum downfield, and the ball is still in his hands after two steps, then it is a catch. The official NFL rules on a catch has the core, but with all the additions over the past ten years or so the confusion is clearly shown each and every week. What was so wrong with what we determined back in the ’70’s and ’80’s as catch? Granted, defensive rules have changed since then as well to make the offense have an upper-hand, but at least there wasn’t a dispute. As much as having booth reviews, numerous camera angles, and coach challenges enhance the game experience, the only negative consequence is it has refs second-guessing themselves on what catches truly are. The NFL can fix this by making it very simple: if a receiver has the ball in his hands, it does not touch the ground, and both feet are in bounds, then it is a catch. That’s it. End of discussion. No team can say it can be unfair, because it would be ruled that way on both sides. Not only would we eliminate the debate each year, but the game would be faster paced. It would destroy these horrible calls we witnessed this past week. It would create bigger and better highlights. With so many talented quarterbacks and wide receivers in the league right now, it is such a waste to downgrade their potential and momentum by having everyone question whether or not some plays are considered a catch.