By ANDRE TURNER
While UMW students are in the midst of wrapping up the fall 2018 semester with an accumulation of final papers, presentations, and exams, they are beginning to explore new avenues pertaining to their free time and extracurriculars.
For many, the National Football League becomes a way for students to make use of their off time as the end of the regular season approaches and the playoffs begin. The NFL has begun its 110th season, while the 2018 NFL season is currently in Week 13. The top 8 division leaders in the NFC West, NFC East, NFC South, NFC North, AFC West, AFC East, AFC North, and AFC South are beginning to take shape with the remaining two wildcard spots, up for grabs in each conference.
The playoffs begin on Jan. 5, starting with a subsequent battle of wildcard teams that face off against the top divisional leaders in their respective conference. But, the game that most students are looking forward to seeing is the Superbowl, which occurs every year on Feb. 3. Playoff games are single elimination which makes way for controversial losses, wins and/or finishes. And in the history of the NFL, many of the regular season games are unpredictable, which is a very familiar trend when it comes to playoff games.
As a UMW student and an NFL football fan, I was curious in finding out how other students felt about the ongoing season as well as what we could expect in the long run. The question that is on my mind and everyone else who is an NFL fan, “What two teams do you think will make it to the Superbowl, this year?”
Nick Bass, a history major at UMW, said that his favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are one of the more successful and popular teams in the NFL. They have accumulated a total of 6 championships over the years with the most recent championship wins in 2006 and 2009.
Bass said, “For the AFC, I think it’ll be the Chiefs or Steelers and in the NFC, Saints or Rams but if I had to choose it’ll be Chiefs and Saints in the Super Bowl.”
And for the outcome, Bass said, “I think the Saints would win solely because their defense is better and their offense can keep up with the Chiefs offense and I think if he [Drew Brees] wins the Super Bowl, he will definitely win MVP, no doubt.”
Daniel Drees, a computer science major, confessed his love for the Cleveland Browns. A team that has gone through a drought in the past few seasons, yet they keep fighting to make the playoffs this year with the addition of their young quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Drees describes his outlook on Super Bowl predictions, “I always like the underdog team and I like the Browns when someone says ‘I’m a Browns fan’, you know they are not liking the team just because they are a good team. When I hear someone say I’m a Patriots fan, I’m a Steeler fan, I’m like, Why do you like them? Are you from Pittsburgh or do you like the rings?”
“The Rams and the Patriots are my hopefuls for a good Super Bowl, and I think the Patriots would win that game,” said Drees.
Matt Ashley, a math major, has a sort of love/hate relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the rise of younger and less experienced teams in the league. Ashley feels as though they have a slight chance of deferring to red-hot Chiefs, who are looking to maintain home-field advantage with a 10-2 record in the AFC.
“I’m a Steeler fan, I would like for them to go to the Superbowl, but I not sure that’s going to happen, realistically, I think it’s going to be the Rams or Saints from the NFC or the Patriots or Chiefs for the AFC,” said Ashley.
“I think that the ultimate Super Bowl would be the Chiefs and the Rams or the Chiefs and the Saints. Unfortunately, I would like the Chiefs to win but I think they’re going to mess it up for sure,” said Ashley.
Jacob Dunaway, a business major, said that the Philadelphia Eagles are not a sure shot to make it to the big game. The Eagles won the NFL Super Bowl, last season, with the help of their backup quarterback Nick Foles, who dominated the game and went home with Super Bowl MVP honors.
“I think with the top teams, there are no surprises. Everyone knew that they would be pretty good; the Texans, no one thought that they would be this good and the Bears, 8-3, no one predicted that” said Dunaway when asked about the current NFL season.
“I think the Eagles will defer to the Saints and Rams, so it’s either going to be the Saints and the Rams from the NFC and the Chiefs or the Patriots from the AFC. The Chiefs offense is scorching, I don’t think anyone will stop them in the AFC. I think the Super Bowl will definitely be an insane game, a lot of points scored,” said Dunaway.
Joe Hatcher, a business major, stands strong with his prediction and aligns with the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and James Connor and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He responded that although the team went through its brief struggle at the beginning of the season, he believes that they will be able to turn it around come playoff time.
“I think the Steelers can go all the way, we just have to tighten up the defense and hope Ben and all of our offensive stars have a big game and I think we can take the AFC,” said Hatcher when asked about his favorite team.
“I think it’ll be Saints and Steelers…If I’m being biased, I just want Tom Brady to choke and so I’ll choose the Steelers,” said Hatcher.
Zach Hollinsworth, a business major, believes that the Dallas Cowboys have a chance of making it this year. With a slight abandonment from the critics and a shocking resurgence of the team late in the season, the Dallas Cowboys have taken control of the NFC East as a late-season injury to the Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith shook up the entire division.
“So, my dad’s a huge Cowboys fan and I don’t think we can run away with it but it’s a work-in-progress. Our stadium is insane, if anything else, we have that,” said Hollinsworth, explaining his love for the Cowboys.
“I think the Patriots will somehow make it there. I think it’ll be the Patriots and the Saints and Patriots will win that game, they always find a way to pull it out,” said Hollinsworth when making his Super Bowl prediction.
Michael Hosser, a business major, explained his struggles being a Baltimore Ravens fan. He mentions that although the future is bright with the start of a new era with a young and fresh quarterback in Lamar Jackson. The playoffs will not be easy for the 2013 NFL champions.
“The biggest surprise of this year was the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes is really stepping up, it’s huge.” He also mentioned, “As far as making the Superbowl, I think Patrick Mahomes is too young and the Chiefs defense needs some work.” said Hosser.
“I’ve got the Saints and the Patriots this year. I think it’s the Patriots year, they’re good every year, especially with Tom Brady, he’s a greatest quarterback of all time,” said Hosser when making his Super Bowl predictions.
For Branden Williams, an economics major, his favorite team the New York Jets are not in the mouths of the critics and spectators this season. The New York Jets have a history of falling short of their season expectations over the years and Williams feels as if the team should go young and begin the rebuilding period, starting with a new coach.
“The biggest shock of the season was the Rams, I mean I knew they were going to be good like the Chiefs, but I didn’t expect them to be a one-loss team at this point in the season, all of the other teams have really dropped the ball. I feel like if your not a Chiefs, Rams, or Saints fan, it’s like your teams not doing too hot this year,” said Williams.
“I’ll pick the Chiefs and Saints.” And for the winner of that matchup Branden said, “Definitely the Saints, Drew Brees, being an old guy in a young league, he’s throwing the hell out of the ball right now,” said Williams when making his Super Bowl predictions.
All Photos Taken by Andre Turner | Blue and Gray Press