Game: Super Bowl XLVIII
Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Date: February 2, 2014
Teams: New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers
After nearly staging an impressive comeback after the Ravens cramped up during the Superdome blackout (or something like that), the San Francisco 49ers are looking to be the favorite to once again emerge from the NFC. And this offseason has only been making them look better.
They traded Alex Smith (hopefully stifling anymore quarterback drama), traded for receiver Anquan Boldin (from the team that beat them in the Super Bowl no less), and extended contracts for such key core players like Justin Smith Anthony Davis.
Across the country, another team is looking fine enough to continue its boring, decade-long string of dominance with their second trip to the Super Bowl in three years.
Though they are experiencing some strange offseason drama with Tebow, Hernandez, and some other injuries, New England is the master at handling ridiculous situations (Tebow in New England coverage is nothing compared to Tebow in New York, and Hernandez was cut basically seconds after his arrest on June 26).
So is this the year Tom Brady finally reclaims the glory of his young dynasty days? (Remember, it will soon be ten years since Brady has won anything.) Or does a fully-loaded San Fran squad have something else in mind?
How San Francisco gets there
The 49ers could win 13 games in 2013, so long as they don’t get stuck in another tie, but they could also win 9 and make it into the playoffs as a Wild Card. That’s how good the Seahawks will be and how unpredictable the Rams are.
Either way, there are no signs showing that Kaepernick isn’t only going to improve on the force that he proved he could be last season when games were on the line. Just like last season, Kaepernick will get the team to the playoffs, and the depth of the offense (pending they find another receiver or that whole Vernon Davis idea works out) and defense gets them back to the Super Bowl.
How New England gets there
Nobody doubts that the Patriots will win the AFC East again this year.
Nobody doubts that the Patriots will return to at least the AFC Championship game again this year.
The doubt comes with whether they will show up for the deciding game against the Broncos, Ravens, or even Texans when another shot at the title is on the line. It’s a coin flip at this point, but they have certainly showed year in and year out that they have the tools (and Tom Brady) to do so.
I’m going to write Tom Brady’s name again here and say that Tom Brady is going to outplay Colin Kaepernick, to the surprise of nobody. Kaepernick will be much better, or at least much more consistent, than last year. But not even a more developed Kap will be able to take on New England successfully in just his second full-year of play.
But I do think that the 49ers are going to be a very different team than they were in last year’s Super Bowl.
They are going to be more experienced, more poised, and more retooled to the point where even if Kaepernick succumbs to the voodoo doll Alex Smith has already built for him out in Kansas City, it is extremely hard to see such a team losing the big one two years in a row.
San Francisco 30-21