Welcome to the best NFL offseason series you'll ever read -- that is, if you're like me, and you want nothing more than the blissful lie that your team will be good in 2019. How Your Team Won Super Bowl 54 will take you through each NFL franchise with one goal in mind: convincing you that there's at least one universe in which Your Team wins it all. I'm Doctor Strange, you're Tony Stark, the Avengers are Your Team, Thanos is...Bill Belichick? I've lost the metaphor.
One thing's for sure:
You'll die in the end. Your Team is going to win Super Bowl 54.
Green Bay Packers
How dramatic can the first half of the season get?
I don't care if Mike McCarthy and his dopplegänger are both out of Green Bay: the Packers are still the Packers, and Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers. Never forget that the 2016 NFC Championship Game run came on the heels of a 4-game losing streak (4-6) and a 6-game winning streak (10-6); pray remember the dulcet, soothing sound of Aaron Rodgers spelling R-E-L-A-X after the team's 1-2 start in 2014, before yet another trip to the NFC Championship game. Packers fans may (will) remember that game as ending in a 19-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, in the first ever NFL game to only last for 58 minutes.
(The Packers had 3 possessions inside the Seattle 30 within the first 7 minutes of that game, by the way. They came away with 6 points. This information has no bearing on why the Packers will win Super Bowl 54. Doesn't mean it isn't fun to remember.)
2013: start 5-2, then go 0-4-1, then go 3-1. 2012: start 2-3, finish 9-2. 2011: start 13-0, finish 15-1, then lose in the Divisional Round. The Packers couldn't be regular if they tried.
As a matter of fact, having ran regression analysis on all of the Packers' seasons during Aaron Rodgers' career, I've discovered that there is a 100% correlation between playoff berths and regular season shenanigans. Findings are depicted below in Figure 1.
The highest likelihood for Aaron Rodgers Regular Season Shenanigans (ARRSS) in the 2019 schedule is clearly in the beginning of the season, wherein 33% of all historical ARRSS have occurred. The Packers visit Chicago in Week 1, face the Vikings in Week 2, host the Eagles in Week 4, and then travel to Dallas in Week 5 and Kansas City in Week 8. With a neutral field game in Los Angeles against the Chargers in Week 9, it's easy to see the Packers going losing 5 or even 6 of their first 9 games.
Likely Aaron Rodgers Regular Season Shenanigans include:
- Stepping up to the line of scrimmage, down 3, with :36 left on the clock, ball at the Dallas 24, and audibling to a hook 'n ladder.
- Off-handedly suggesting during a postgame presser that Matt LaFleur's preseason injury affected his ability to chase down the side judge for a crucial challenge flag throw
- Referring to a multi-score lead collapsing against the Detroit Lions on Week 6 MNF as "like my Game of Thrones performance. Just flamed out" while streaming Chernobyl from an iPad mini in his locker
- Openly mulling early retirement so that he can bristle at questions about a potential early retirement
For what it's worth, my money is on the dark horse: purposefully playing poorly until he can convince LaFleur that matching handlebar mustaches will muster up enough facial hair juju to save the season. Regardly, expect the Packers to end the season winning their last seven games, en route to a 10-6 championship (via tiebreaker) in the NFC North.
How quickly can Matt LaFleur become Sean McVay?
The NFL coaching carousel in 2018 was essentially a high-stakes game of Six Degrees to Sean McVay. As the Arizona Cardinals astutely noted, their new HC Kliff Kingsbury once chilled with McVay -- the implication thereby being Kingsbury can somehow steal ideas via skin-on-skin contact, or perhaps some sort of aromatic mechanism, but that's for when the Cardinals win Super Bowl 54.
Regardless, the Cardinals (and the Bengals (and the Packers (and the...yeah, that's it))) all went as hard as they could after the next McVay, in that they targeted young, offensive-minded coaches with a certain je ne sais quoi that, lacking for an appropriately broad yet poignant term to describe the depths of the esteemed characteristic, we'll call hotness.
McVay's allure places him at the top of this intersection between scheme and suave. Not only does he slice through defenses like a hot knife through butter, but he acts like a whole regular human being despite being an NFL coach, an occupation that famously dictates you say and do the weirdest nonsense for no reason. And while his legendary 1-2 punch of well-executed offense and well-trimmed beard didn't bear out a Super Bowl win last season, teams like the Packers are at the forefront of The Hunt for Sean McVay (and you can't tell me Sean Connery doesn't look like an old McVay).
In hiring LaFleur, who worked with McVay at Washington and was his offensive coordinator for a year with the Rams, the Packers did just that. Ideally, LaFleur's soft eyes, five o'clock shadow, and pre-snap jet motion fool opposing defenses into believing it really is McVay on the opposite sideline, prowling the sideline like a catwalk, popping a hip as he calls Bunch Right Zach Febreze Bengal.
Fortunately for the Packers, they successfully hired into the Golden Boys quadrant of the McVay Scale, another highly scientific statistical measure which evaluates how close a coach is to being Sean McVay, which is, of course, the goal of NFL coaching.
As you can see, while LaFleur is not yet at the Genius level to really challenge McVay's throne, he remains a Top-5 handsome head coach in the league, falling only behind McVay, Bruce Arians (the hat adds a whole bonus), Frank Reich (winter version exclusively), and Anthony Lynn (most underrated McVay Scale winner).
When the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl 54, LaFleur will have to go through his mentor and predecessor in McVay, in the NFC Championship game hosted by Los Angeles. This is what we in the business call a McVace-off, and the resulting NFL SoundFX (are they still making those?) will inspire generations of ex-college QBs looking to name plays after Fortnite and Tiktok. LaFleur will emerge victorious in the McVace-off after a walk-off touchdown strike to Equanimeous St. Brown, who was the primary target because he has the best name for a dramatic broadcast call.
How The Packers Won Super Bowl 54?
LaFleur and the Packers will defeat Bill Belichick -- or Dark Matter McVay (see above) -- and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 54. Rodgers will throw two touchdowns and run another one in, instinctively doing the Discount Double-Check celebration before remembering it's not 2013. Jaire Alexander will pick off Tom Brady late to seal a 31-20 victory, later reviling the media and the nation for doubting them after their slow start despite the fact that nobody actually did.
How many universes does this happen in?
45 out of 1000.
How does it all go wrong?
Mitchell Trubisky or Kirk Cousins suddenly become good at football.