After what feels like an eternity, the NFL is back. The 2020 season officially kicks off tonight when the Houston Texans take on the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. We here at the 366 Sports Network thought it’d be a fun way to celebrate the occasion by giving our final pre-season Super Bowl predictions. If the 366 staff can agree on one thing, its that we can’t agree on anything. So here are 9 Super Bowl predictions from 9 writers for 366. Each more different than the last. Which one of us is actually an all-knowing swami masquerading as a sports writer? Check back to this article in February. Happy football everyone!
Dan Couver’s Pick: Ravens Vs Saints
Will Drew Brees get that Elway/Peyton Manning/Michael Strahan/Jerome Bettis ending? He will certainly have the opportunity to do so when the New Orleans Saints, the most complete team in the NFC, take on the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl 55 (feel old yet?). The Ravens will finally slay their playoff demons and make a run for the big one this year. This would be an excellent matchup and a great game if it were to happen.
Ryan Moore’s Pick: Chiefs Vs Buccaneers
The Chiefs are loaded everywhere on offense, and with Mahomes getting a game-breaking RB in Clyde Edwards-Helaire to go along with the unfair WR depth, and Travis Kelce, I think they’ll shred through the AFC. However just because I spotlighted their offense doesn’t mean that the defense is bad because that’s far from the case. They’re a consistently improving unit that’s led by a good front seven, a good secondary, and they’re starting to develop chemistry together as was showcased throughout the end of the year. They’re the best team in the AFC. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Ravens or Patriots make runs because the Ravens are stacked but I need to see if Lamar can continue to ascend even beyond MVP levels because he’s the key to the success of the Ravens. As for the Patriots, their defense is still really good especially their secondary, they have some question marks though that need to be answered but with a combination of a freshly motivated Bill Belichick, and a Cam Newton wanting to unleash vengeance on the NFL, they could be serious contenders still.
The Bucs are an interesting case, everyone has them immediately pegged as the boom or bust team but I think they will boom and here is why. Last year, they were a competent QB away from being a playoff team, and with Jameis’s backbreaking turnovers the Bucs looked mediocre. So what did they do to solve that issue, oh you know, they just add the greatest QB ever in Tom Brady who’s incredibly efficient with the ball as he has never posted 15INTs or more in a season even when he was playing in the more physical NFL of the 2000s, and the passing era. Not only is Brady efficient but he brings something the Bucs have lacked at QB for the entirety of their franchise, and that is a winner. Brady will bring a no BS culture to that locker room which is what Tampa needs. Now, some have concerns about Tom but let me tell you that as someone that’s watched every snap of his for literally 13 years, his arm is fine, and I’d argue it hasn’t dropped off that much. He was still hitting deep balls just fine when WRs were actually getting open last season, and I think he didn’t completely look himself last year because his WR situation was horrendous and he knew his time was up in New England. Not only did they add Brady but they added his good friend Rob Gronkowski as well. Gronk is a complete wildcard this year but it’s a gamble that you take all day long if you’re Tampa. He’s still an awesome blocker, and he’s going to be a decoy for you, and if he’s like 70-80% of what he was in 2018, I’d call that type of production a grand slam for Tampa. Gronk also knows what it takes to win games, and brings pedigree to the locker room. Now, as for the rest of the team, they’re absurdly underrated. You got the incredible Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin duo for your WRs, you got OJ Howard, and Cam Brate to go along with Gronk, you got a respectable stable of RBs including the likes of Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Shady McCoy who all can provide respectable roles even if none are a true alpha back at this point. The Bucs OL is really solid, and adding Tristen Wirfs is huge for them. As for their defense, it might be the most underrated unit in the league, their front seven you could make a strong argument for it being one of the best in the league, and their secondary while young improved vastly as the season went on, and they got Antoine Winfield Jr. who was one of my top safeties in the draft to plug in at FS. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Saints or 49ers make runs because the Saints are one of the most balanced teams in the league but I need to see if Drew Brees’ arm still has juice in it because it was concerning to see Taysom Hill have to throw deep balls for Brees during the playoffs, the Saints season rides on Drew Brees in what is likely his last ride. As for the 49ers, they’re an incredibly balanced team as well, and you could make a legit argument they’re the favorites again to make the super bowl. However, I wanted to be a bit bold, and not have a repeat of last year’s Super Bowl so I chose Tampa instead.
As for how the game goes?
Chiefs and Bucs get into an insane shootout, it’s the game of a lifetime, and it comes down to who gets the ball last which my guess would be Tampa because Kansas City plays a more fast-paced offense than I assume Tampa will be playing, and they’re gonna probably score too quick which puts a game-winning drive in the hands of Brady which if you’ve seen his 6 super bowl wins, you know what movie will likely be coming.
Kaleb Alan McChesney’s Pick: Ravens Vs 49ers
The Baltimore Ravens quite possibly could be the best team in the NFL. Great all around offensively and defensively and only got better through the offseason by drafting Patrick Queen and JK Dobbins. Plus trading for Calais Campbell for pennies on the dollar isn’t too bad either. I fully expect the Ravens to go on a tear and possibly even go undefeated.
Meanwhile in the NFC, despite major moves coming and going, nobody gives me a better vibe than the San Francisco 49ers, they may not have gotten better anywhere. They didn’t get worse either. Give me the 9ers to have another strong campaign and push it all the way to the super bowl again.
As for the winner, my gut says Baltimore, but I can’t pick against my guy Jimmy G. Give me San Francisco 24-20 in a defensive chess match.
Matt DeSimone’s Pick: Chiefs Vs Saints
The Saints will make one final push to get Brees a ring before he walks off into the sunset but it won’t be enough to stop Kansas City from winning their second Super Bowl in a row. Mahomes and Reid secure the Chief’s dynasty as they hoist their second Lombardi with many more to come.
Trent Osborne’s Pick: Ravens Vs Buccaneers
As far as the AFC goes, this will finally be the year where all of the stars align for the Baltimore Ravens. In Lamar Jackson’s first season with the Ravens, he failed his team in the playoffs. Last postseason, his team failed him. This time, the team fires on all cylinders en route to a slim AFC Championship victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Baltimore bolstered an already unstoppable rushing attack by drafting Ohio State standout tailback J.K Dobbins, and they will still enter this season with a top-five offensive line according to Pro Football Focus, despite the retirement of eight-time pro bowl guard Marshal Yanda. If the offseason surgery Marquise Brown had to remove a screw from his foot gives him the explosiveness he had at Oklahoma, the Ravens offense is going to be even scarier in 2020 (if that’s even possible).
As for the NFC, I think it comes down to one question: How much gas does Tom Brady have left in the tank? With how horrid the help he had in New England was last season, I’d say that’s a very difficult question to answer. The real question we should be asking is: How good does Brady even NEED to be? He’ll be inheriting one of the best 1-2 punches at the wide-out position in Chris Godwin & Mike Evans, he’ll be reuniting with his long-time tight end Rob Gronkowski, and he’ll have lethal backfield help with the running back duo of Leonard Fournette & Ronald Jones II. Even the defense, led by a stacked defensive line and second-year stud Devin White, has been turning heads all around the league.
Is Tom Brady still the same quarterback he was three years ago? Probably not. Does he still have enough left to lead this team to the Super Bowl? You’re damn right he does.
As for how the game would turn out, your guess is as good as mine. It’s one of the most revolutionary offenses in league history going up against an extremely talented and well-coached team led by the greatest football player of all time. If I had to choose, I’d place my bet on the Buccaneers. Because a lot of people have lost a lot (and I mean a lot) of money betting against Touchdown Tom on the game’s biggest stage.
Dylan Davis’ Pick: Chiefs Vs Saints
The Chiefs are given a high percentage to repeat to the Super Bowl in 2021. They are given a +650 chance. The Chiefs remain relatively the same on offense but adding Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back. The Chiefs offense was already dynamic last season with Patrick Mahomes at the helm. The Chiefs defense has some questions, especially at corner, but their offense will provide all the stability they need.
The Saints have been through playoff hell the last few years. First with a gut-punching loss to the Vikings with the “Miracle in Minnesota” in 2017. The following year in 2018 they lost to the Rams in overtime. Then last season in 2019, losing to Minnesota in OT on a Kyle Rudolph TD catch. This year will change things for the Saints. The Saints will dig themselves out of the playoff misery and advance to the Super Bowl. The Saints added Emmanuel Sanders in FA along with safety Malcolm Jenkins. Alvin Kamara is in contract talks, and I believe that will be settled real soon. This is basically it for Drew Brees. He possibly only has this year left to make it back to the Super Bowl. Who truly knows how many years he has left of football. They have been so close multiple times; this is the year to overcome the adversity.
Not only will the Saints make the Super Bowl at last, but BOLD PREDICTION, the Saints will win! It’ll come down to a higher scoring Super Bowl. Drew Brees will get the ball back with a little over a minute left. The last two playoff losses came to OT. Brees will make sure it doesn’t come down to that. The Saints will drive down the field into field goal range and Will Lutz will split the uprights for a final score of 34-31. The Saints will finally end their playoff curse and come out with a Lombardi.
Manil Trivedi’s Pick: Patriots Vs 49ers
Jimmy G vs his old team.
Reason why I think the 49ers will make it back is they traded for Trent Williams who’s still a top 10 tackle in the game and added weapons for Jimmy G. Garoppolo will also improve because he won’t be just fresh off an ACL tear allowing him to move around more. That defense is still nasty even if they traded away Buckner who, in my opinion, was not worth the money the Colts paid him. They replaced him with Javon Kinlaw who I think will be better than Buckner.
I think the Patriots will be their opponent because of Bill Belichick and a resurrected Cam Newton. This may seem like a homer pick but hear me out. In camp, Cam has been very good and has shown flashes of his old self. I think he will prove a lot of doubters wrong about his arm. The defense had some significant opt-outs in Patrick Chung and Donta Hightower but 2nd round rookie Kyle Dugger has honestly been better than Chung was from what we’ve seen in camp, and losing Hightower hurts a lot but Ja’Whaun Bentley is ready to step up. On top of that, we added guys like Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings to help the pass rush. Chase Winovich was better than people realize last year despite playing hurt half the season and will be even better this year.
Tristin McKinstry’s Pick: Ravens Vs 49ers
I believe this postseason will be Lamar Jackson’s postseason breakthrough. After two straight disappointing postseason exits, the NFL’s reigning MVP will learn from those years and lead his squad to the big game. For the NFC side, I don’t think there was a team that improved enough to dethrone Jimmy G and the Niners. While their biggest concern is the WR group, I am very high on Deebo Samuel and rookie Brandon Aiyuk, and I do think Jimmy G has a better season/postseason. San Francisco’s defense is still a top-defense in the league, even without DeForest Buckner.
Billy Faucett’s Pick: Ravens Vs Buccaneers
This year’s NFC battle will be a heavyweight brawl. The Vikings, led by a stout defensive front, will try to get over the hump without Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter. The Dallas Cowboys will continue to feed Zeke as well as their trio of wide receivers, including this year’s first-round pick CeeDee Lamb, while they hope the Byron Jones-less defense can keep them atop the scoreboard. The Philadelphia Eagles look to be made of glass, but an injury-free Eagles roster is undoubtedly a contending roster. Consecutive 13-3 seasons for the New Orleans have established them as a force to be reckoned with. The new-look Buccaneers are instant contenders thanks to a QB named Tommy, but the lack of preseason may prevent them from reaching their ceiling early on. Even the Seahawks, with nary an offensive lineman, will continue to pound the rock and rely on Russell Wilson to deliver the ball to their electric WR duo, even if he’s running for his life. When the playoff dust settles, the NFC winner will come out of the NFC South. It’s my prediction that New Orleans, despite being a more complete team, will get worse as the year goes on as a result of Drew Brees’ deteriorating arm strength. The opposite will be true in Tampa; the loss of the preseason may affect the results of early games, but the Buccaneers’ relentless offensive attack will make for a dangerous Wild Card team and, ultimately, lead them to the NFC Championship.
AFC fans, sorry. This one’s over. The Ravens and Chiefs are the two best teams in the league. The Bills stand to impress, and the Titans, Texans, and Steelers could have a puncher’s chance, but the AFC Championship bout may as well start the printing tickets now. Yes, the Titans beat the Ravens in the playoffs last year, but let’s call a spade a spade, and an upset an upset. The Mahomes v Jackson matchup will likely be an AFC playoff staple for years to come, and this year will be no exception. This time, however, I think Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are the ones who come out on top and represent the AFC.
And then there were two. The Buccaneers-Ravens Superbowl will be a clash of two eras. The ultimate pocket QB and the ultimate athletic QB will go head to head against equally stout defenses. Tampa will be the first team to host, and ultimately lose, a Superbowl in their home city. It’s my prediction that the Baltimore Ravens, on the backs of Lamar Jackson and Justin Tucker, eek past Tom Brady’s Bucs and his latest greatest attempt to secure ring number seven.