Four Corners: Who will be final four teams in NFL this season?

August 02, 2010

Ravens looking good

Ken Murray

Baltimore Sun

In the absence of any truly dominant teams — no, the Saints don't qualify with their defense — the race is wide open. Starting in the AFC, the Colts probably aren't going to flirt with perfection again, and the Patriots still are clearing the rubble from a wicked playoff loss to the Ravens.

Because of all their upgrades, I like the Ravens to challenge the Chargers in the AFC title game. The Baltimore offense should emerge now that it has some receivers. San Diego is transitioning from the glorious but inevitably flawed LaDainian Tomlinson years to become Philip Rivers' team. It's about time.

In the NFC, Aaron Rodgers is ready to make everybody forget Brett Favre and lead the Packers to the Super Bowl. But he'll have to get past the improved Falcons and Matt Ryan. Baltimore and Atlanta both went 9-7 a year ago, which speaks to the league's balance.

kmurray@tribune.com

Put money on QBs

Dan Pompei

Chicago Tribune

Betting on great quarterbacks is as safe a bet as there is in the NFL.

That's why my final four this season is the Colts ( Peyton Manning), Bengals (Carson Palmer), Packers (Aaron Rodgers) and Cowboys ( Tony Romo).

There are some other strong candidates with great quarterbacks like the Vikings (Brett Favre), Chargers (Philip Rivers) and Patriots ( Tom Brady), but it will take more than great quarterback play to get to the championship games.

The Colts seem to have a winning formula down pat — they are like a machine. The Bengals could be a bit of an upstart that finally puts it together. The Packers seem to be reaching a peak. And no team has more talent than the Cowboys.

dpompei@tribune.com

Count out Saints

Ethan J. Skolnick

Sun Sentinel

Start here: The Saints won't be among the semifinalists again. Yes, Drew Brees and his teammates are talking about how they'll maintain the same discipline that they did before they won it all, but complacency has gotten the better of better champions.

The Cowboys are dangerous and the Falcons are a dark horse, but go with the Vikings and Packers, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, to renew their rivalry with more on the line than ever.

In the AFC? The Colts are a given, provided that Peyton Manning stays healthy, which might be the surest thing in sports. That leaves the Ravens, Patriots, Jets and Chargers competing for the other spot.

Baltimore and San Diego have more talent than the Patriots, but one gets the sense that Brady will rebound from a season in which he seemed skittish in the pocket.

eskolnick@tribune.com

Going old school

Sam Farmer

Los Angeles Times

This season's conference championship matchups will be old school and older school.

In the AFC, I like the old-school matchup between the Colts and Patriots, the best rivalry of the past decade. It's so vital to have an experienced franchise quarterback, and in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, both of these clubs have one.

In the NFC, an even older-school showdown between familiar stalwarts — the Packers and the 49ers. Aaron Rodgers has developed into one of the elite quarterbacks, and Alex Smith, the misfit in this group, is going to benefit from having the same offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons — for his first time as a pro — and a division that no longer includes Kurt Warner.

sfarmer@tribune.com

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