Zane Mathews’ Super Bowl Prediction 2016: One Team Returns to the Big Game
The 2016 NFL season is upon us, and it's time for the annual Zane Mathews Super Bowl Prediction.
If it weren't for the fact that last year at this time I did actually predict the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl 50, I would tell you to ignore everything you are about to read. But, maybe you should ignore this since my Super Bowl prediction is usually right once every 38 years.
We start in the NFC where the Carolina Panthers are the defending champions.
I see only a couple of teams that may have a shot at dethroning the Panthers. Seattle and Arizona are both good enough to go all the way, but one of them will have to go the route of the wild card which makes it extremely difficult.
Dallas and Minnesota were playoff teams until they lost their starting quarterbacks. That opens the door for Green Bay and Washington to capture those division titles but will see early playoff exits. Atlanta, with their high-powered offense, will be the other wild card team in the NFC.
As it usually is, the AFC seems to be wide open with most of the usual suspects rising to the top. New England, even without Tom Brady for the first four games should be good for 11 or 12 wins, while Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will be there to the end. Beyond that, it's a crap shoot.
The AFC South is up for grabs, but I expect the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts to edge out Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans, who might just end up as a wildcard. Jacksonville will be close behind, but, in the end, will fall short.
That leaves the AFC West. This is where Denver Broncos fans may want to stop reading.
I could give you a dozen reasons why I believe the Broncos won't make it back to the Super Bowl this year, but for now, I will give only one -- Peyton Manning.
Manning was much maligned last season and received very little credit for getting the Broncos to the Super Bowl. I'm afraid that at some point during this season, Denver fans will suddenly realize that Manning was much more instrumental in the Broncos' success last year, despite the lack of big numbers.
Inexperience is a huge liability in the NFL, and the Broncos have an abundance of it at the most important position on the field. This is where the Broncos' season begins to crumble. My apologies to Trevor and Paxton. This is an offense that will struggle to score points and the result will be an eight-win season for the Broncos.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs are up and coming and hungry for a crown. They were tough last season, and I have no reason to think they won't be at least that good and maybe a little better. The Raiders are going to be a tough out this year, and will be in the playoff chase, but ultimately it's the Chiefs that will end the Broncos reign in the AFC West.
Super Bowl 51 Prediction:
Carolina Panthers 24
Kansas City Chiefs 14