We were hoping Derron Smith would make the Cleveland Browns’ roster in 2018. Smith, who made the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster the past three seasons, was cut by the new Browns’ regime last weekend.
The NFL kicks off this week.
If the Los Angeles Rams wound up playing their cross-city rival Chargers in next February’s Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons. An all-L.A. battle might suit So Cal fans just perfectly.
It’s no special feat to predict that the New England Patriots are in the mix. The Pats are 6-to-1 (Vegas), favored to win Super Bowl LIII.
This isn’t a prediction column, which I’ve always felt was a waste of time.
If you’re a student of pro football, though, there’s plenty of hopeful Super Bowl matchups out there. Some aren’t so hopeful. That battle-of-L.A., at least, stands a chance.
The Rams are 10-to-1, the Chargers 16-to-1.
Just saying: The Rams have enough firepower to reach LIII. So do the Chargers.
How about a battle of quarterbacks? Tom Brady against Aaron Rodgers might be the biggest quarterback showdown since Joe Montana erased John Elway almost 30 years ago in New Orleans.
That means Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers (12-to-1) must outlast a strong NFC lineup that includes the Rams, Cowboys, Vikings, Redskins, Falcons (16-to-1), Panthers, Saints (14-to-1) and maybe a few other surprising teams.
The Saints’ Drew Brees vs. Ben Roethlisberger might be another good one.
Heisman Trophy winners Cam Newton (Carolina) could match up with Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota — 30-to-1 and 25-to-1 shots, respectively.
FYI: Only two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks have ever won a Super Bowl. That’d be Jim Plunkett and Roger Staubach.
Baker Mayfield, last year’s Heisman winner, won’t start for Cleveland. By the way, that’s two former Heisman winners, R.G. Griffin III and Lamar Jackson, backing up Joe Flacco in Baltimore (25-to-1).
Speaking of the Browns: Never-before-Super-Bowl teams — Detroit (60-to-1), Jacksonville (16-to-1) and Houston (20-to-1) and Cleveland (80-to-1) have never reached pro football’s ultimate showcase.
Detroit, the lone NFC bunch from that quartet, against any of those AFC teams would be a breakthrough in Super Bowl history.
A few other little nuggets:
The AFC’s Buffalo Bills and the NFC’s Minnesota Vikings would be an interesting matchup. Both are 0-4 in all-time Super Bowls. The Vikings are a solid 10-to-1 shot, but the Bills are 200-to-1.
Also suffering are the Cardinals (100-to-1), Titans, Falcons (16-to-1), Panthers and Bengals (100-to-1), a collective 0-8 in Super Bowl outcomes.
The Battle of New York probably won’t happen this season. The longshot Jets (100-to-1) won’t make it and neither will the Giants.
Then there’s the Keystone State Super Bowl. Like the Battle of L.A., this one also has a chance.
Defending champion Philadelphia could very well hold up for a return trip. Both the Eagles and cross-state rival Pittsburgh are 10-to-1.
They’re teams with the third and fourth best odds.
As for the Eagles’ hopes, what about a matchup against their former coach? Andy Reid is coaching the 25-to-1 Kansas City Chiefs these days.
The Andy Reid Bowl: Eagles vs. Chiefs.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see San Francisco (30-to-1) travel all the way to Atlanta to take on disappearing Bay Area rival Oakland (20-to-1) for the Lombardi Trophy?
Speaking of the Lombardi Trophy: Green Bay, coached by legendary Vince Lombardi, barely outlasted the Dallas Cowboys when the Super Bowl era was just starting. If, somehow, the Cowboys had managed to prevail, would we be referring to the championship prize as the Landry Trophy?
Tom Landry coached the Cowboys in those years.
A Steelers (10-to-1) and Cowboys (30-to-1) matchup would be the fourth in Super Bowl history and the ninth trip to the championship game for both franchises. Denver (40-to-1) is 3-5 in Super Bowls.
The Patriots are working on reaching their 11th.
No team has won more Super Bowl titles than Pittsburgh (6), but the 49ers, Patriots and Cowboys have each won five.
At 30-to-1, the Giants (4-1 record in Super Bowls) are interesting. If RB Saquon Barkley hits the ground running, leaving quarterback Eli Manning throwing to wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., with that quick-striking defense, those odds might prove to be a nice gamble.
Seattle, at 60-to-1, hasn’t been that much of a longshot in years.
What’s your call on some 100-to-1 teams — Redskins, Cardinals and Dolphins, with Tampa Bay and 200-to-1?
Save that Rams-Chargers showdown for 2022. That’s when L.A.’s new Hollywood Park stadium will be ready to host Super Bowl LIV. It’d be a home game for both teams.
SoCal fans probably don’t want to wait that long.
Also this: Smith can find a better team, anyway.