The coin toss

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NFL enthusiasts Britton Gray and Jhett Folk debate over Superbowl 2013

With the NFL season officially underway, it seems like a good time for some early season Superbowl Predictions.

NFC CHAMPION

Gray: San Francisco 49ers

The NFC is probably the toughest Conference in the NFL and there are at least three other teams you could put at the top, but I believe the Niners have the least amount of question marks going into the season.

Alex Smith is back at quarterback this season and is still arguably the weakest link on the team, but he will be used as a game manager – a role that he is more than comfortable with.

San Fran’s defence will once again be solid. Expect running back Frank Gore to be one of the top five in the league at that position.

The other two elements that will push the 49ers over the hump this season will be it’s coaching and receiving. Having another year under head coach Jim Harbaugh’s system, as well as an upgraded receiving corp, will automatically make them a top contender.

Veteran wide receiver Randy Moss, 35, will be a deep threat even at his age and sixth year tight end Vernon Davis will be back as one of the top receivers in the game right now as a TE.

Another strength for the Niners is their kicker  – that’s right, a kicker – David Akers. He is still one of the most accurate kickers in the league and you can’t argue that the guy is clutch. After losing in the NFC title game last year against the New York Giants, the Niners have a good chance to break through this year and make it back to the SuperBowl.

Folk: Dallas Cowboys

My honest to goodness pick would be the San Francisco 49ers, but for simple conversation purposes I am going to go with my fellow writer’s favorite team instead.

The Dallas Cowboys are a phenomenally well-off team in the National Football Conference. Currently, the Cowboys hold the upper hand over their bitter rivals, the New York Giants, after earning a 24-17 victory against them in their season opener on Sept 5.

Also in the east division is a Philadelphia “dream team,” aka the Eagles, who at this point is beginning to look more like a nightmare.

The final “threat” in the NFC East is the Washington Redskins, who really came out of nowhere in week one. Even though they were able to register a 40-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints, they still have a lot of proving to do.

What the Cowboys have going for them is that they have talented players at key positions. Quarterback Tony Romo holds nearly a 65 per cent pass completions rate with 152 touchdowns and a QB rating of 97.3 over his career. Those stats provide a huge upside to a QB who has more critics than fans.

On the defensive side of things, DeMarcus Ware is a force to be reckoned with. Ware is a bit more self-explanatory, but for the sake of evidence, here are some numbers:  485 tackles, 101.5 sacks and 2 interceptions over the course his seven-year NFL career.

To put it simply, the man is a freak. With his impressive athletic abilities, he alone can win games for the Cowboys. They have studs on their roster that can carry the team, and they finally managed to clean up that rag-tag secondary of theirs.

AFC CHAMPION

Gray: Houston Texans

They may not be your typical pick, but with Peyton Manning being traded to the west division, the south has gotten weaker, meaning that if the Texans can stay healthy they should be in the SuperBowl this year.

Last season, veteran Matt Schaub proved he could be an elite quarterback in the NFL – and when you are throwing to a guy like Andre Johnson, there should be no reason not to be.

Arian Foster will once again be the top running back in the league and will continue to tear up defences.

The only question mark about Houston is at defensive end. Although, they will be without Mario Williams, who was picked up by the Buffalo Bills as a free agent in the off-season, the Texans should still be able to get enough pressure on the opposing quarterback with JJ Watt returning at DE.

Brian Cushing will also continue to develop at linebacker, and by the end of this year he will most likely be considered one of the top linebackers in the league.

As long as they can stay healthy this year, the Texans will be making their first trip to the SuperBowl.

Folk: New England Patriots

If you try to tell me for a second that there is a better receiving core in the NFL than New England, I will shut you down in a second.

The Patriots are for real. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez may be the deadliest one-two tight end punch the game of football has ever seen. Lest we forget, wide receiver Wes Welker is fresh-off being the best receiver in the NFL – as far as yards are concerned.

Last, but certainly not least, of course, is talented wide receiver and seasoned veteran, Deion Branch. Branch is by no means a slouch in this league.

I feel like I’m missing a major point about the Pats though. It’s on the tip of my tongue but I can’t seem to think of it. Oh yes of course, Tom Brady.

The most cerebral quarterback in NFL history is still young, strong, and raring for another shot at the Super Bowl. Vengeance is in the minds of this motivated team.

SUPERBOWL CHAMPION

Gray: San Francisco 49ers

It will be feeling like the 80’s all over again with the Niners reigning supreme once again.

The Texans defence won’t be able to handle a full dose of Gore and Davis. If Smith does his job well and retains possession and doesn’t force things in the pocket, he should easily get the ball into the hands of his receivers.

The Texans offence will be able to keep up with the Niners through the first half, but the Niners defence will catch on and be able to stop the Texans run game and force them to be a one-dimensional team.

Foster simply won’t be able to carry the load for Texans. In the end, the Niners get their 6th SuperBowl championship in franchise history – we may be looking at the start of another 49er dynasty.

SuperBowl XLVII Final score: Niners Over Texans: 28-20

Folk: New England Patriots

It won’t even be close. The Patriots will walk in, execute, and walk out with Brady’s fourth Lombardi trophy. As much as it pains me to say it – as a Colts fan – these Patriots are poised for a big playoff push, and I don’t think there is a team in this league that can stop that. Sorry, Britt.

Superbowl XLVII Final Score: Patriots Over Cowboys 38-17

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