Posted by Andy Benoit
Only four teams are still standing in the 2010 NFL season, and each believes they’re destined to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Feb 6. The Steelers have hoisted the trophy a record six times. The Jets have hoisted it zero times but only because the stingy NFL does not hand out hardware for self-proclaimed preseason titles.
The Bears have won gobs of titles, but only one of them has been in the Super Bowl era (1985). The Packers have won three times that many Super Bowls (’66, ’67 and ’96). Neither the Packers nor Bears ever had to go through the other during the postseason to claim their title. In fact, they’ve only met in the playoffs once – and that came a week after Pearl Harbor. Yet, many fans have acquiesced to the television executives and marketing gurus telling them to view this as the best rivalry in football. In the spirit of Championship Week hype, we’ll go with it.
It will stoke the Bear-Packer rivalry when one of the teams ruins the other’s Super Bowl chances this Sunday. We’ll assume the same concept will also lay the groundwork for a Jets-Steelers rivalry (so far it’s been a bizarre love fest between those two teams).
So what are all these teams’ chances at actually making it to Arlington and having a shot at the Lombardi Trophy? Well, technically, 50 percent each. But vagueness disguised as mathematics is no fun. And neither is breaking down the same key matchups a million times. So, instead, we’ll drum up some Super Bowl appearance odds based on various X factors.
*taking the opponent’s factors into consideration
Green Bay Packers
Known to Football Fans for: Offensive weaponry, aggressive 3-4 defense
Known to Non-football fans for: Cheeseheads
Most dangerous X factor: Charles Woodson
Most subtle X factor: Mike McCarthy’s occasionally questionable clock management
Injury factor: Nothing new this week (a nice changeup for a team that’s been a mash unit all season)
External conditions factor: Must adapt to the unfamiliar and unstable Soldier Field surface
Favorable karmic factor: Taking a hard line against Brett Favre’s wishy-washiness three years ago by turning to Aaron Rodgers
Unfavorable karmic factor: Stringing Rodgers along for three years before that (though to be fair, that Favre guy was pretty darn good)
Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: +8
Final Super Bowl appearance chances: 58 percent
Known to Football Fans for: Black and blue offense that we’re all still trying to remember is actually more of pass-first Mike Martz offense now. Also, known for classic Cover 2 defense
Known to Non-football fans for: Da Bears
Most dangerous X factor: Devin Hester
Most subtle X factor: The offensive line’s ability (or inability?) to diagnose blitzes before the snap
Injury factor: Safety Chris Harris missed practice earlier this week with a sore hip
External conditions factor: Haven’t faced an above .500 team in the postseason since losing to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI
Favorable karmic factor: Jay Cutler and Mike Martz have been able to put their big egos aside and get along just fine
Unfavorable karmic factor: Cutler and Martz are only here because so many others got sick of dealing with those big egos
Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: -8
Final title chances: 42 percent
New York Jets
Known to Football Fans for: Complex defensive scheme, run-first offense led by young quarterback and brashness
Known to Non-football fans for: Hard Knocks, Ines Sainz, foot fetishes and, before those things, being that “Oh that’s right, there are TWO teams from New York” team
Most dangerous X factor: Brad Smith
Most subtle X factor: The unheralded defensive line’s ability to get penetration against the run.
Injury factor: WR/KR Brad Smith (groin) practiced this week after sitting out against the Patriots; OLB/DE Jason Taylor did not practice (concussion)
External conditions factor: Attempting field goals in Heinz Field is unsettling. Attempting field goals in Heinz Field with a bewilderingly up-and-down kicker like Nick Folk? Downright nerve-wracking.
Favorable karmic factor: Their confidence
Unfavorable karmic factor: Their arrogance
Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: -13
Final title chances: 37 percent
Known to Football Fans for: Being the consummate NFL franchise
Known to Non-football fans for: Being the last true reminder that Pittsburgh once had a burgeoning steel industry
Most dangerous X factor: Troy Polamalu
Most subtle X factor: Nose tackle Casey Hampton’s immovability against the run
Injury factor: SS Troy Polamalu once again rested his sore Achilles; CB Bryant McFadden sat out with a strained abdomen; DE Aaron Smith (triceps) practiced for first time since October but will not play Sunday.
External conditions factor: Because they didn’t lose them all in a row like their intrastate neighbors to the east, you don’t hear much about this: the Steelers have lost four AFC title games since 1994. All at home, by the way.
Favorable karmic factor: Management dumping bright star Santonio Holmes after his off-field transgressions
Unfavorable karmic factor: Management not dumping brighter star Ben Roethlisberger after his off-field transgressions
Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: +13
Final title chances: 63 percent
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.