With only four weeks remaining in the NFL’s regular season, the playoffs are in sight for many of the league’s top contenders.
This column is coming to a close for the fall semester, but when it is time for classes to resume and students to return to campus, it will be Super Bowl week.
As a final column for the semester, here is a way-too-early prediction for this season’s culminating matchup in Super Bowl LV.
Representing the AFC: The Kansas City Chiefs
There is only one factor needed to explain why the Kansas City Chiefs should be the favorites to win the American Football Conference for the second year in a row.
They have by far the best quarterback in the league right now.
Not only does Patrick Mahomes have one of the strongest arms in the NFL — Josh Allen is the only other one who may have a case — he is by far the most accurate.
His combination of arm talent and athleticism make him impossible for defenses to stop and he has a talented cast of pass catchers to throw the ball to.
Tyreek Hill is one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the league and hardly any NFL cornerbacks can keep up with his raw speed.
Just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who surrendered 203 yards to Hill in the first quarter alone during their Week 12 matchup.
They also have one of the best tight ends in the league, as Travis Kelce leads all tight ends in the NFL with 82 receptions.
Not only has Kelce had at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his last five seasons, he has only missed one game in his past seven seasons.
All in all, Kansas City’s offense looks nearly impossible to stop.
Their biggest threat in the conference is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are tied with Kansas City with an 11-1 record.
The Steelers’s defense has lived up to the hype and aging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has shown flashes of his youth at times this season.
However, it is difficult to imagine any team stopping Mahomes and the Chiefs from returning to the Super Bowl to defend their title.
Representing the NFC: The Seattle Seahawks
Unlike the top-heavy AFC, the NFC has a larger group of contenders that could realistically make it to the Super Bowl.
Currently the New Orleans Saints sit atop the NFC with a 10-2 record, with the Green Bay Packers one spot behind them at 9-3.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, could make a case they are still in the race despite struggling the past couple weeks.
Even though the Seattle Seahawks suffered an ugly loss this past weekend to the New York Giants, once the postseason comes, Russell Wilson has proven time and time again he is a force to be reckoned with.
And while Aaron Rodgers is every bit as clutch as Russell Wilson in big games, he does not have Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf to throw the ball to.
Seattle has a lot of issues to improve upon in the last four weeks of the season and their defense is ranked towards the bottom of the league overall.
However, they have a very favorable schedule the last month of the season to get back on track, with their only tough matchup coming in Week 16 against the Los Angeles Rams in a contest that could decide who wins their division.
Seattle’s defense does not have the star power it once had and has played downright terrible at times this season.
However, it is not hard to imagine Bobby Wagner — their veteran leader — and Seattle’s experienced coaching staff turning this unit around enough to keep them in any postseason game and giving Wilson a chance to do his magic.
Even though they are not playing their best football right now, things can turn in an instant in the NFL.
Just ask the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, who limped into the playoffs with their backup quarterback and wound up winning it all.
Final Prediction: Kansas City beats Seattle 37-27
This would be a matchup of two teams with elite offensive talent and lesser defenses, so expect a high scoring affair.
Mahomes will outduel Wilson and Kansas City will take home their second straight Lombardi Trophy.
Janssen can be reached at [email protected].