12 NFL teams begin Super Bowl chase

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It’s been quite a decade for sports, including 10 Super Bowls.

The New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl title five years after Hurricane Katrina, breathing life back into one of American’s coolest cities. After the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was the New York Giants’ second Super Bowl-upset of the New England Patriots with Eli Manning leading the way. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers in a wild affair that we now look back on as Colin Kaepernick’s last hurrah, and there was the Seattle Seahawks’ demolition of the Denver Broncos.

The Patriots denied Seattle back-to-back titles — Pete Carroll should have given the ball to Marshawn Lynch — and then the Broncos sent Peyton Manning into retirement with one more title. In 2017, the Patriots’ knockout blow to the Atlanta Falcons has had them dizzy ever since. Philly then dethroned the Pats, who responded last season in arguably the most boring Super Bowl in history.

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On to the next decade.

And based on the analytical history of the 2010s, the Ravens are destined for a Super Bowl showdown with the Packers in Miami on Feb. 2, 2020.

I took a look at the past decade of Super Bowls and added up the last 10 seeds from both conferences. The AFC received a “score” of 13, or, an average seed of 1.3, while the NFC received a “score” of 21 for an average seed of 2.1.

Thus, AFC No. 1 seed Baltimore should face NFC No. 2 seed Green Bay, right?

It’s perfectly fine with me, as I don’t need to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl for a fourth straight season, and fifth time in six years.

Five of the 12 teams to qualify for the playoffs are new to the postseason in 2019, after missing the playoffs a year ago: Buffalo, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco and Tennessee.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s updated Super Bowl odds finds the Ravens as the 9-4 favorite, followed by the 49ers and Saints – both at 7-2. The Kansas City Chiefs are 4-1 and then the Packers at 12-1.

Six straight Super Bowls — and seven of the 10 since 2010 — have featured the top two seeds, whether it’s been both top seeds, a 1 vs. 2, or a 2 vs. 2. And at least one of the top two seeds from either conference has been in every Super Bowl.

In 2011, a 6-seed emerged from the pack, as Green Bay won three straight road games in the NFC playoffs before beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.

In 2012, the fourth-seeded New York Giants won their wild-card game at home, won two more on the road in the NFC Playoffs and then defeated the Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI.

In 2013, another 4-seed pulled off the upset, as the Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore in the wild-card game, then won two on the AFC Playoff road before knocking off the 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.

But this year, I wouldn’t mind seeing Lamar Jackson vs. Aaron Rodgers.

The storylines are endless.

While leading the NFL with 36 passing touchdowns and posting an impressive 113.3 quarterback rating for the season, Jackson led the Ravens with 1,206 rushing yards on 6.9 yards per carry. Rodgers, who ended the regular season erratic against the Lions and brings a Super Bowl pedigree with him, but at 36 years old, he may not have many of these postseason runs left in him.

It’ll be interesting to see how the postseason plays out, but if you’re looking to invest in a future bet as to who will make it from each conference, consider the Ravens and Packers based on the analytics of the past decade.

As for wild-card weekend, we can’t talk about the opening round without discussing the underdog. Since the 2013-14 season, underdogs are on a 14-8 run at the window. The past two seasons wild-card underdogs are 7-1, with five winning outright – including the Colts, L.A. Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles last season.

After closing out the regular season with 2-4 mark in Week 17, and 50-48-3 overall, let’s jump into the postseason with a glance at all four wild-card games this weekend:

Saturday

Bills at Texans -3: The Bills have continually impressed others this season, getting double-digit wins, but this is where the season ends. The Texans rested quarterback Deshaun Watson and other key players on Sunday and will be ready for this one. TEXANS

Titans +4.5 at Patriots: The Titans might be the most dangerous team in the field, in terms of sleeper-mode. Their passing game can catch you off-guard, and though the Patriots have the experience, I don’t know if they slip away from this number. The champs will have their hands full. TITANS

Sunday

Vikings+8 at Saints: We’re two years removed from the miracle touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs so the Saints haven’t forgotten. The Vikings are 19-11 all-time against the Saints and have won three of their four playoff matchups. This number seems too big for a wild-card game. VIKINGS

Seahawks at Eagles +2: How is the cold weather going to affect the Seahawks? That’s what I’m wondering, and seriously believe the Eagles will benefit from the natural elements. Seattle’s defense ranks near the bottom in points and yards allowed, and now has to perform in frigid conditions? EAGLES

Last week: 2-4

Season: 49-48-3

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About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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