Picking a potential Super Bowl winner seven weeks into the NFL season is not really intelligent. Let’s be honest; out of all the professional leagues in the U.S., the NFL is the one in which the team perceived to be the best at the end of the season ends up losing in the playoffs (see Patriots vs. Giants rounds one and two).
So even though it’s almost pointless, I think it’s time to make the oh-so-bold prediction.
I think that you have to look for a sleeper pick the pundits aren’t looking at currently; a talented team lurking to show its true potential.
That’s why I have to go with the one team everyone is sleeping on: the Cleveland Browns.
It may be hard to choose, but there are some teams that have pulled away from the group. The Falcons, Giants, Bears, 49ers and Texans have all made some noise during the first half of the season.
The Packers, Patriots, Ravens and Broncos are all lurking in shadows of that first group of teams, waiting to show their stuff.
Atlanta may be undefeated, but let’s be honest; Matt Ryan has never won a playoff game, Michael Turner is the example of a running back who's has carried the ball too much over a short period of time, and its defense is inconsistent (it almost lost to both the Panthers and the Raiders).
The holes in all of the “lurking” teams (like New England’s pass defense and Denver’s everything other than Peyton Manning) will inevitably scratch them off the list.
The Texans are at a disadvantage because the NFC has been a far and away better conference this season, and Houston showed that by losing to Green Bay by almost 20.
The team that will win the big one has to have a great defense and at least a competent quarterback (sorry San Francisco).
That’s why I have to pick the Chicago Bears.
They have a devastatingly good defense, which can make any offense one-dimensional (by shutting down the run), an awesome dual headed monster at tailback in the explosive Matt Forte and gritty Michael Bush, and a quarterback-to-receiver combination in Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall which may be the best in the league.
Sure their line may look like Swiss cheese at times, and Cutler always looks like he is one more sack away from committing a double homicide, but they have all the ability in the world to not only win in the regular season, but also in the playoffs.
Combining a running game, defense, dangerous quarterback and a dangerous kick returner (Devin Hester), the Bears have the chance to bring it come January. Of course Cutler may get hurt again and this prediction could look dumb in a matter of weeks…but I’m willing to risk it.
So in this election season, I am casting my ballot for Cutler/Urlacher 2012. At the very least an explosive pick, if not a correct one.