• 07/17/2012, 05:02AM ET

TD 101: Which NFL Wildcard Team From Last Season has the Best Chance of Reaching the Super Bowl?

TnerB57 (12-4-1) vs williewilliejuan (47-5-2)

Ok, wwj, here we finally go. And good look to you, good sir.

So. I'm not gonna even try to be suspenseful here. I'm going with the Steelers, and for multiple reasons.

Here are some of the multiple reasons:

The Cincinnati Bengals
The Detroit Lions
The Atlanta Falcons

One other reason is, of course Big Ben. A proven winner that is sure to have the mercurial Mike Wallace hauling in passes again this season.

And then you have the Steelers organization itself, which, after essentially snoozing through the 80's, has returned the Steelers to perennial contention. Pittsburgh has made the playoffs 14 out of the last 20 years. Damn few teams can boast that record, and certainly not the other three options for this TD.

Their division at times is very tough, but with the Bengals(since they made the playoffs last year, are scheduled to take at least a year off from the postseason), and the Browns to contend with, they have a very good shot at entering the playoffs with a first round bye this upcoming post season. Their only divisional competition is the Ravens, and they will be in decline this season.

That's it for now.

"Past performance is not an indicator of future results"

My financial advisor tells me that every time I see him, probably so I can't sue him if he loses my money. It's also good advice when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They aren't the Steelers of a few years ago.

Rashard Mendenhall is out for at least half, and maybe all of the season. Hines Ward and James Farrior have retired. The offensive line has been completely scrambled. The team is installing a new offense that no one really understands and Mike Wallace is MIA. Pittsburgh is likely to struggle early.

This, combined with the fact that the Ravens have beaten the Steelers three out of the last four times they've played, means the Steelers will likely play most of their playoff games on the road if they make it at all. There they will potentially face teams like the Patriots, Texans (with a healthy Matt Schaub) and Broncos (with a maybe healthy Peyton Manning).

That's why the wildcard team from last year most likely to make the Superbowl is the Detroit Lions. With a stout defense, an emerging Matthew Stafford, an improved running game and an easier path in the NFC, Detroit is more likely to get there.

I actually considered Detroit for this TD, but too many questions surround this team.

First and foremost, character issues.

This is a serious threat to the chemistry of any team. Hell, look at the damage one T.O. can do to a locker room! This Lions team is rife with questionable personalities and moralities. From foot-stompin' Suh to the plethora of arrests just since the season ended, this team looks like it needs a good collective spanking.

And I don't just mean the players. Jim Schwartz clearly doesn't have a Tom Landry or Bill Walsh feel to him. He is benefiting from having some very high and talented draft picks, which is to say, he has a roster loaded with some very young prima donas.

What the Detroit Lions need is a full squad of life coaches. Tommy Lee could probably recommend a few names.

Pair that with a decidedly brittle QB in Stafford, and an oft-injured and concussed Best in the backfield, and I would not recommend betting the mortgage on the Lions to make the Super Bowl this coming season.

Yes, I spent this entire argument invalidating the Lions. Except for this: GO KELLEN MOORE!!!

I'm not sure we want to do a "who has worse character issues" debate between the Lions and the Steelers. Between a QB who can't keep his hands to himself to a linebacker who can't keep his head to himself, the Steelers haven't been without character issues of their own.

Of the teams we are discussing, only one had their starting QB healthy for the entire season and it wasn't the Steelers. Matthew Stafford didn't miss any time last season due to injury. He started all 16 games in the regular season and passed for over 5,000 yards. He has the best receiver in the game as his primary weapon in Calvin Johnson, who led the league last season in receiving yards and yards per game.

Jahvid Best is healthy after his concussion issues of last season and Mikel Leshore has come back from his Achilles injury. Leshore is a much more physical runner who will be able to do the tough inside work and allow Best to rely on his speed on the outside, as well as limit the possibility of additional concussions.

This more balanced attack will address the one-sided nature of Detroit's offense that limited them last season and permit them to match up better with the elite teams in the NFC.

The Steelers' character issues differ from the Lions' in one important aspect: Ruffleburger is/was surrounded by, as is/was Harrison, by a solid group of veterans. And a very stable coach/staff.

The Lions just don't have that. What they have is a head coach who is every bit as competitively immature as his players. There is no balance. The team is full of talent, but also full of cockiness, and without a coach that can channel that combination to success on the field, they will continually fall short.

The Steelers, on the other hand, have this man:

Oops. Sorry. This guy:

The Steelers have the right man to blend the talent together, along with a front office capable of recognizing the right talent at the right time. They have a history of success.

The Lions are a team with an explosion of talent and no real knowledge of how to make it click. They are doomed to implode without significant change in leadership.

wwj, win or lose, you are one of the finest TDers this site has seen. Good luck in this TD, and all your future TDs.

Thanks for the kind words, Nerby. Always a pleasure.

The Steelers have had a great run recently and Tomlin is an excellent coach, but 2012 has the look of a retrenching year for them. They're putting in a new offense that relies on short, quick passes to reduce the wear and tear on Big Ben. This isn't Wallace's forte and, frankly, he hasn't bothered to start learning the offense yet. Combine that with the lack of an effective running game in Mendenhall's absence, the loss of Ward's ability to make tough catches over the middle, and the continued strength of teams like the Ravens and Patriots, and it says that this likely isn't the Steelers' year.

Contrast that to the Lions, a team on an upward arc. They have a strong, young defense and one of the best passing attacks in the game. They've shown steady improvement and the addition of a more robust running game could be the missing piece to propel the Lions forward this season.

This is particularly true in the NFC where teams like the Falcons, Niners and Saints all look to be in line for a step back. The NFC playoff landscape is more open to an emerging team and the Lions look to be a great candidate to be just that team.

Comment #1 has been removed
July 17, 2012  09:14 AM ET

Curious to see this one play out.

July 17, 2012  09:14 AM ET

Curious to see this one play out.

July 17, 2012  09:16 AM ET

And the lag...

Comment #5 has been removed
July 17, 2012  09:46 AM ET

Get to this tonight. Good luck, newby.

Comment #7 has been removed
July 17, 2012  11:34 AM ET

I disagree. I got my eye on the "Biggest Mind FUs in all of sports" TD.


Comment #9 has been removed
Comment #10 has been removed
July 17, 2012  11:59 AM ET

So one of the best teams in Football over the last decade has a chance to reach the Super Bowl this year. I'm shocked.

July 17, 2012  12:03 PM ET

Why is even getting attention? Lions Falcons and Bengals! That's your only other choices! Dumbest TD of the day by far.

Comment #13 has been removed
Comment #14 has been removed
July 17, 2012  12:41 PM ET


Just trying some options to emphasize my disdain but they didn't work out so well.

July 17, 2012  12:45 PM ET

I want Tnerb's TDs back!

Comment #17 has been removed
July 17, 2012  01:33 PM ET

Ravens on the DECLINE? How so?

July 17, 2012  02:11 PM ET

were you trying to do this?

Yep, something along those lines. Guess what works with my online classes doesn't always translate here.

Comment #20 has been removed


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