The road to Super Bowl LI has been an exciting journey. We started with 30 NFL teams, and we are now left with just twelve. With the Wild Card matchups set to begin, let's take a look at each team: vying for a championship:
1. New England Patriots
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have the best record in the NFL, and they are the top seed in the AFC. Fun fact, the Patriots had more starting quarterbacks this season (3) than interceptions thrown (2). New England is the team to beat; however, will the absence of Rob Gronkowski keep them from yet another Super Bowl victory?
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Alex Smith-led Kansas City Chiefs have proven they are one of the NFL's top teams. Over the last two seasons, Smith has shown he is more than just a game manager and led the team to a 23-9 record. With the emergence of Tyreke Hill in almost all aspects of the game, the Chiefs are going to be a lot of people's pick to win Super Bowl LI.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Le'Veon Bell finished third in all-purpose yards behind only David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys. Why is third place a big deal? Well, he only played in 12 games in 2016. With Bell carrying the ball, Ben Roethlisberger can work the ball down the field to Antonio Brown and the Steelers other deep threats.
4. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have the worst record amongst AFC playoff teams; however, don't count them out. The Texans have the league's top defense, which bodes well when facing an Oakland Raiders team starting a rookie quarterback. Speaking of quarterbacks, Brock Osweiler—who was recently benched due to poor play—will start at QB for Houston. Houston is one of only four teams to never appear in the Super Bowl. Can Osweiler help them reach the championship game and become the first team to play in the Super Bowl at home?
5. Oakland Raiders
Connor Cook, the rookie out of Michigan State, will be starting his first game in the NFL Saturday against the Houston Texans. The Raiders run game will have to carry the team, and if they do so, they might be able to cover up many of Cook’s rookie flaws. On a side note, when Derek Carr broke his leg, the team did not place him on injured reserve, which means if Oakland makes it to the Super Bowl, Carr would be eligible to return.
6. Miami Dolphins
After a 1-4 start, the playoffs were not an option for the Dolphins, but then something changed. Miami finished the season 8-3 to secure the final playoff spot in the AFC. Now that they made the big show, can Matt Moore carry the Dolphins to the Super Bowl? With a group of electrifying receivers and an explosive running back, we think it's a longshot, but they have a chance.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Can a team highlighted by two rookies make it to the Super Bowl? Well, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott led the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC’s best record. With an exceptional ground game and a talented offense, the Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan had an MVP-caliber season, and he is hoping to finish the year with a Super Bowl MVP too. The Atlanta Falcons high-powered offense can keep up with any team in the NFL; however, their defense might be the team’s fatal flaw.
3. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have appeared to be two different teams. One week, they are beating the Carolina Panthers by 33, and the next, they are losing to the Green Bay Packers by 28. If the Seahawks are going to return to the Super Bowl, Russell Wilson’s legs will have to carry the team to victory.
4. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers said the Packers would make the playoffs. After winning their last six games, Rodgers kept his word, and they won their division too. Many NFL fans think Rodgers and his arm will have to carry Green Bay to the Super Bowl; however, if they are going to win, their defense will have to make some big plays.
5. New York Giants
Odell Beckham Jr. is finally in the playoffs, and if the Giants are going to make it to the Super Bowl, Beckham Jr. will have to make lots of big plays. In addition to Beckham Jr., the Giants defense has played exceptionally well this season. If they can play as well as they have all season, they might be able to make it to Houston.
6. Detroit Lions
In Week 17, the Lions loss to the Green Bay Packers dropped them to the six seed in the NFC. The Lions will now have to play every potential game on the road, which is not great news for a team that when 3-5 on the road. The Lions have never won a Super Bowl, in fact, they have never even been to a Super Bowl. With an MVP candidate in Matthew Stafford at the helm, this might be their best chance (and only chance) to reach the big game for years to come.
Which NFL team will win Super Bowl LI?
Our team has analyzed each team, and based on our research, we have created the following bracket that shows us who will win each game of the playoffs.
We predict that the New England Patriots will win the AFC and the Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC. The two teams will face off in Super Bowl LI, and the Patriots will leave Houston champions.
What NFL team do you think will win Super Bowl LI? Click the links below and be sure to follow and share your picks with Dapper Sports Facebook and Dapper Sports Twitter.