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Super Bowl Champ? Likely The Pack

Bruce Penton makes his Super Bowl pick
bruce penton sports

Playoffs are under way in the National Football League, and the next couple of weeks will determine which two teams will meet Feb. 13 in Los Angeles to play in Super Bowl 56 (or LVI for you Roman numeral fans out there).

A couple of points to consider in the leadup to the big game, which has evolved into almost a national holiday in the football-crazed United States: 1.Tampa Bay Bucs, the defending champions, are in the hunt with their aging quarterback, 45-year-old Tom Brady, to try to win it again; 2. The amount of money wagered on the game, legally and illegally, will be greater than the GDP of many Third World countries; 3. Pre-season Super Bowl favourites, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, had pre-playoff legitimate cracks at the game’s biggest prize; 4. Injuries and COVID-19 will undoubtedly play major roles in the playoff races.

Trying to predict a winner is a fool’s game (and I know that only too well, after finishing in the lower half of my NFL football pool this year, with about a 46-per-cent success rate on picking winners). But it’s an annual custom to go out on a limb, and worry not about making a fool of one’s self. So here goes:

Green Bay Packers will win it all. Pretty solid limb.

Brady’s age is catching up to him, and the Bucs have too many injuries. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were cool to start the year, hot in the middle (eight straight wins) and then levelled off toward the end. Tennessee will welcome the return of running back stud Derrick Henry, and the Titans have the best coach in the league in Mike Vrabel, but mediocrity at QB (Ryan Tannehill) leaves them on the outside. Up-and-comers Buffalo, Cincinnati and Arizona have three of the game’s most exciting quarterbacks (Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray respectively), but they’re still a year or two away. The Rams have talent galore, but QB Matt Stafford’s throws are too often caught by players wearing enemy jerseys.

So is this a Green Bay lock? Rival NFC teams wanting to get to the game in L.A. Feb. 13 will likely have to win a road game in frigid Green Bay in January, and that’s a scenario best suited to Aaron Rodgers and his Pack, who live in igloos and eat cheese-flavoured Popsicles for dinner. Winning the NFC title in bitter cold and then playing an indoor game in L.A. two weeks later will be a breeze, a warm one at that, for Rodgers, who will then bid adieu to Green Bay and play elsewhere next year.

My head says Green Bay. My heart says Cincinnati. My TV set Feb. 13 will likely say something completely different. Owning a 46-per-cent win rate likely guarantees that last point.

•    Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Hope the Mets signed 18-year-old Venezuelan outfielder Miriojaycey-Rachidnycander Ray Jean Tadeo Benita. Good luck trying to get him to fit all that on an autographed baseball.”

•    Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on an overused hockey phrase: “Cycling Down Low . . . sounds like a problem in the lower digestive tract. You wanna go out? No, I just had some chalupas and I’m, uh, Cycling Down Low.”

•    Headline at the “Rob Manfred Confirms Pete Rose Remains Ineligible From DraftKings Official MLB Hall Of Fame At Cooperstown”

•    Bob Molinaro of pilot (Hampton, Va.): “The self-created trials and tribulations of the world’s No. 1 men’s tennis player have turned into a bad Djok.”

•    RJ Currie of “Novak Djokovic has no business getting into the Australian Open. As far as we know, he has not had one COVID vaccination, never mind two — the ultimate double fault.”

•    Blogger Patti Dawn Swansson: “The American Kennel Club has added two dogs to its roster. You know, kind of like what the Edmonton Oilers have been doing with their defence every year for the past 15 seasons.”

•    Janice Hough of “The Washington Football Team will unveil its new name and uniforms on Feb. 2. Unfortunately for fans, the new uniforms will have the same old players in them.”

•    Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha: “Novak Djokovic will not be allowed to play in the Australian Open because he is unvaccinated. The news isn't all bad for Novak. He just signed to be the new backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.”

•    Alex Kaseberg again: “The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially cut Antonio Brown. He was released and not put on waivers because even waivers did not want anything to do with him.”

•    AP’s Greg Beacham, via Twitter, after Utah’s Micah Bernard caught a TD pass and led his team in tackles vs. Ohio State: “I believe he is the first player to do that in the Rose Bowl since Shohei Ohtani.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.