PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – SEPTEMBER 2
By Leo Haggerty

WHO’S TAKING HOME THE LOMBARDI TROPHY THIS YEAR

Last week, I made my selection for who I believe will be the College Football Playoff champion once the dust settles this upcoming season.  I chose the two universities that have been involved in the CFP the most as the participants and predicted Clemson to beat Alabama.  No surprise there, right?

Well, now it’s time to “kick it up a notch” and prognosticate on who will win Super Bowl LVI.  Will I take the two favorites again?  Read on, my loyal followers, and find out.

Right now, the majority of the scribes and “talking heads” in the media are predicting a repeat of last year’s championship game.  They are saying it will be Tampa Bay and Kansas City meeting at SoFi Stadium for the chance to secure the Lombardi Trophy.  Well, I am of the opinion that neither one of these franchises will be teeing it up in February in suburban Los Angeles.  So, who do I think it will be?  Keep reading, ladies and gentlemen, keep reading.

Let’s start first deal with the Chiefs, shall we?  Here’s a big fact that you may want to consider before you drop some cash with your short term investment banker.

Since the inception of the Super Bowl in 1967, there have only been three occasions where the loser of the previous Super Bowl found a way to return the following year.  Yes, you hear that right, only three times in 55 years.

It first happened in 1974 and 1975 when the Minnesota Vikings ending up on the wrong side of the scoreboard twice.  The second time was in 1987 and 1988 when the Denver Broncos lost in both of their appearance.  The last time this phenomena has manifested itself was from 1991 to 1994 when the Buffalo Bills made four unsuccessful trips in a row to the NFL championship game.  Their closest grab at the brass ring was their initial trip when a Scott Norwood field goal sailed less than a foot wide right as time expired giving the New York Giants a 20-19 victory.

So, with all that being said, do the math my good readers.  It been 26 years since the team that lost the previous Super Bowl has even made it to the final contest.  So, I don’t expect that to change in February of 2022 and that rules out Kansas City.

Now, how about we examine the Buccaneers?  Here’s why I don’t believe the Pewter Pirates get back to the dance.

I will concede this. The odds of repeating as Super Bowl champs are better than losing two straight times but not by much.  Granted, the Green Bay Packers won the first two inaugural Super Bowls in 1967 and 1968.  Also, the Dallas Cowboys accomplished the feat in 1973 and 1974 followed immediately by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1975 and 1976.

The Black & Gold repeated the feat in 1979 and 1980.  Then the San Francisco 49ers turned the trick in 1989 and 1990.  That was followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 1993 and 1994 with the Denver Broncos pulling off the repeat in 1998 and 1999.

So, here’s why I believe that the odds are against the Bucs pulling off the double.  Since the beginning of the 21st century 21 years ago, the only time a team has won back-to-back Super Bowls was in 2004 and 2005 when the New England Patriots punched that ticket.

Now, you’ll say but that the Bucs have the same quarterback, Tom Brady, leading them in the 2021 seasons as the Pats did for their triumphs in Super Bowl XXXVII and XXXIX.  My counter is that #12 isn’t 28 anymore.  He is now 44 years old and, although “The Ageless One” is still playing at a high level, that can’t go on forever because Father Time is undefeated.

Finally, all the cards fell right for Tampa Bay last year.  It was like “The Magical Mystery Tour” for the Buccaneers when it came to the playoffs.  They won three road games (Washington and New Orleans and Green Bay) in empty or limited capacity venues and won Super Bowl LV in the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium in their own back yard.

Finally, the Bucs had only one major injury (TE O.J Howard) at a position where they had replacements that were just as good.  The football gods will not be that kind to the defending Super Bowl champs this year.  Trust me, they never are.

Now that I told you why I believe TB and KC won’t be returning, it’s time to tell you who I believe will be in Super Bowl LVI.  Here’s what I see in the crystal ball.

In the NFC, I have Green Bay beating Tampa Bay.  In the AFC, I see the Bills besting Baltimore, who upset Kansas City, in a blizzard in Buffalo.

So, does Aaron Rodgers get his second ring or do the Bills finally get their first NFL title?  I’m picking Buffalo 38-35 with a late score to take home the Lombardi Trophy for the first time to upstate New York.

Will I be right?  The only way to find out is to watch the season as it plays out.

Are you ready for some football?  I sure am.