All three teams went to the Super Bowl in their respective seasons—and two won.
In the 2009 season, many people will give you a prediction of a Super Bowl to be a game with the Colts or Patriots vs. the Vikings or Saints, and many will even put money on it.
But I'd like to offer a different perspective on the game. I know it's a bit early to be talking Super Bowl, but I'd like to offer the thought that many of the Super Bowl-winning teams are not who we expected them to be in Week 10.
In most cases it's the team that we least expect who carries the Lombardi trophy or at least reaches the game, not the more obvious of the predictables.
In most cases this team comes off a hot streak and continues to win, like the Cardinals of last year, or also in the Cardinals' case, a team who suddenly starts playing to a whole new level come playoff time, like the Giants in '07.
The team also has to be at least semi-decent and has to have a good number of players who, if they step up, could potentially be key in a turnaround of a team from good to very good.
They also have to have at least one area that they are dominant in, like the passing games of the Colts and Cardinals or the pass rush of the Giants.
They need a player who, in essence, elevates their games to perform at star-like status, like Edgerrin James of the Cardinals last year or Eli Manning of the Giants.
Here are some of the teams who could fit this description.
The Jaguars almost fit this criteria perfectly. For one, they have the star player in Maurice Jones-Drew, and also have a player who is very off and on in quarterback David Garrard. If he plays very well, then the Jags offense will be hard to stop.
They also follow a similar pattern to the three teams listed at the beginning of the article; they've lost 41-0 to the Seahawks and have had some problems with their defense.
Yet the Jaguars are certainly in the hunt, as they have the top wild-card spot as of Week 11. Not only this, with games against Miami, Houston, Indy, and New England, the Jaguars could enter the playoffs on a hot streak and shock the world.
The Titans also fit this mold with a star in Chris Johnson and a developing player in Vince Young. They also have had their share of blowout losses, but with wins over Jacksonville and Houston have shown they have enormous potential.
However, the Titans will likely have to win out to reach the playoffs, and with games against Indy and San Diego, to name two, they will need a near-perfect performance to reach the playoffs. Then again, if they do...
The Ravens possess a team that are points away from being one of the top teams in the league with maybe even a unblemished record. The Ravens have a good number of defensive stars, and the quarterback, Joe Flacco, is developing very nicely.
Once again, the Ravens are in a very tight spot at 5-5 and once again will likely have to have a near-perfect performance to reach the playoffs. With two games against the Steelers, along with the Packers and Bears, and a knack for losing games at the last minute, the Ravens may be sitting at home without a ticket to the playoffs.
The Texans face a similar dilemma to the Ravens. The Texans offense is one of the best in the league, and their defense has been improving. If the Texans were to make the playoffs, they fit as an ideal candidate because if the defense was to turn it up another notch, the Texans would be one of the best teams in the league.
Yet once again, the Texans have a knack for losing games, and with games against Indy, Jacksonville, the Dolphins, and the Patriots, the margin for error is very small.
THE MORE OBVIOUS CHOICE
Sure, they are a much more obvious choice, but no one seems to give the Bengals the respect they deserve. A much more safe bet to make the playoffs, the Bengals have a solid offense and defense, yet no one picks them to reach the Super Bowl. If this Bengals team gets hot, watch out, because they certainly have the talent and have already pulled off end-of-game wins.
The Eagles also have the talent but have suffered some more embarrassing losses as of late. We know that they have the experience of reaching deep into the playoffs, and with the maturation of young wide receivers and the returned health of Brian Westbrook, this Eagles team could soar into a playoff run.
Let's also not forget that the defense, which has not been the typical Eagles defense, could potentially soar out of their mediocrity and become great with the growth of their new defensive coordinator. If all the pieces come together, the Eagles could finally win one for Andy Reid.
2. Green Bay
The Packers have the tradition, and they have a gunslinging offense directed by a quarterback not named Brett Favre. Considering that the Packers offense tore up a pretty solid 49ers defense, the Packers offense, when hot, is one to be reckoned with.
Now, if they go on a hot streak as a team, maybe they can have Favre have one of his playoff blowups against them this time and strut into the Super Bowl singing, "Take that, Favre."
This is a bit of a long shot, especially with the Panthers' record at 4-6, but the Panthers also share the talent and experience that could possibly lead to a Super Bowl appearance. If Jake Delhomme plays like a good Jake Delhomme, along with the defense stepping up, the Panthers could go on a bit of a run to end out the season.
More importantly, if the Panthers were to reach the playoffs, they'd be the hottest team in football, probably winning at least five of their last six.
The emergence of targets for Eli Manning has to be a good sign for the Giants. Even after dropping four straight they still sit on the cusp of playoff contention. The Giants have the veteran leadership, the defense, and the talent to make a run at the Super Bowl. You never know—maybe they'll upset another undefeated team along the way...
THE MORE OBVIOUS CHOICE
The Cardinals, in the worst division in football (rivaled only by the AFC West), are almost a sure shot to reach the playoffs barring a disaster or a 49ers reemergence. They have a great veteran quarterback in Kurt Warner and two amazing wide receivers in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, not to mention a resurgent defense and a developing Beanie Wells. Watch out for a Cardinals repeat...
There are plenty of teams that could easily go win the Super Bowl, and that's what makes the NFL special. In a sense, the playoffs are like a whole new season, and in most cases, it's the Cinderella who walks away happy.