The Road to the Super Bowl Starts Now

Tom Rodenburg, Staff Writer

Now that the NFL regular season has come to an end, it’s time to look towards Super Bowl 51. The first part of that process is this weekend. On Saturday, the Oakland Raiders will be in Houston to play the Texans while the Detroit Lions will be playing the Seahawks in Seattle. Then on Sunday, the Steelers will be hosting the Dolphins and the New York Giants will be in Green Bay to play the Packers.

The Oakland Raiders have had a phenomenal season. They looked like one of the few teams in the AFC that could challenge the Patriots in the playoffs and make the Super Bowl. Then everything changed in week 15 when Star QB Derek Carr left the game against the Colts with a broken fibula, which would be season ending. Though they still have great players like Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray, the Raiders are going to have a rocky road to the Super Bowl, if they can make it past the Houston Texans. The Houston Texans are another team that have had major injury trouble this season. After losing JJ Watt early on, the Texans also had trouble with their QBs. Brock Osweiler had trouble with his new team and after the switch to Tom Savage, the Texans are going to have to do their best with Osweiler after losing Savage to a concussion.

Prediction: Houston wins 17-14

The Detroit Lions are a team that dominated for most of the season, but then completely fell apart late. Going into the last 3 weeks, all they had to do was win one of their last 3 games in order to clinch a division title, but they just couldn’t do it. They ended the season at 9-7 and even though they don’t have home field advantage, the Seahawks are still going to have a rough time with holding back Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions offense. The Seahawks have been awesome as usual. Their defense hasn’t gotten any worse than it has been over the last few years and it has been a key role in their perennial success. Russell Wilson is still a strong force in the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks should expect for a deep playoff run once again.

Prediction: Seattle wins 27-21

The Steelers have been a great team as usual. Le’Veon Bell is still a top running back in the league and Ben Roethlisberger was in elite form throughout most of the season. Antonio Brown is also still a top receiver. Basically, the Steelers offense is one of the best in the league and any defense that goes up against them, is going to have a rough day. That includes the Dolphins. This season the Dolphins are returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.The Dolphins have seen the emergence of running back Jay Ajayi this season as he dominated defenses this season. The Dolphins will also be starting veteran backup QB in Sunday’s game since Tannahill is still injured. This will be his first ever playoff game and it is easily the biggest challenge of his entire career as he will be looking to go into Pittsburgh and knock off the Steelers. .

Prediction: Steelers win 31-10

The fourth and final game of this weekend will be the Giants traveling out to Green Bay to play the Packers. The way the Giants have looked this season is a little scary considering they are very close to the teams that have won the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011. Both years they were a wild card team, and both years they played the Packers. There is one huge difference between this team and the other two. That difference is Odell Beckham Jr. If OBJ performs to the level that is expected of him then the Giants should be in good shape, but if he is even slightly underwhelming, the Giants are going to be in for a rough game. The Packers are going into this weekend on a 6 game winning streak. Aaron Rodgers is looking better than ever and the Packers are going to be the hardest team to knock out of the playoffs this year. This game is going to be the battle of the offenses and will truly be an exciting one to watch.

Prediction: Giants win 34-31


* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license