Have We Already Seen a Preview of the Super Bowl?

by Vegas Writer

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2022
Ever heard someone say (or write), "a preview of the Super Bowl in a regular season game" when describing an upcoming game?

During the Super Bowl era, it's happened 14 times, the last being during the 2020-21 season, when the Kansas City Chiefs won the regular season meeting 27-24 but were stymied by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 31–9 Super Bowl destruction.

Prior to that, it happened during the 2011 season, when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in both the regular season and the Super Bowl.

It's only happened three times this century, with New York and New England also meeting two times in 2007, and the Rams and Patriots playing twice in 2001.

It's Week 17 of the NFL season, and every team has two games left. I don't believe there is one game over the last two weeks anyone would consider a Super Bowl preview, so I took a look at my top three teams in both the AFC and NFC, peeped their schedules to date, and tried to find a potential preview they may have already played.

Ironically, five of those six rank one through five with their scoring offenses: Philadelphia, Kansas City, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati. Two of them rank one and two with their scoring defenses: San Francisco and the Bills.

The 49ERS and the CHIEFS met in Week 7 at Arrowhead Stadium, a game that turned out well for Kansas City in a 44-23 rout. While the Niners generated 444 yards of offense, it also committed three turnovers. Their defense allowed Kansas City to gain 529 yards, including 417 through the air. Since that game, though, the 49ers haven't allowed more than a total of 349 yards to eight different teams. To that point, Frisco had committed 12 turnovers, thrice committing three in one game. Since then, the Niners have committed only four turnovers. Kansas City has just one loss since then, at Cincinnati, a monster the Chiefs will have to solve if they face them in the AFC playoffs. The Chiefs' offense generated an average of 382.3 yards and 29.8 points per game through their first six contests; since the 49ers meeting, they've averaged a whopping 446.1 yards and 28.7 points per game.

We got an early indication of just how good the COWBOYS' defense might be when they hosted the BENGALS in Week 2 and came away with a 20-17 victory. It was the second-lowest output for Cincinnati this season. It wouldn't shock me to see this reunion in February, as both have shown me something late in the season. The Bengals head into their Week 17 battle with Buffalo riding a seven-game win streak, and it's been their stifling defense that has me tuned in. That includes shutting down Kansas City's potent offense in Week 13, during a 27-24 win. If the Bengals knock off Buffalo this Sunday, I make them the favorite to win the AFC, hands down. Dallas clearly took the Jaguars for granted in Week 15, as we've seen Jacksonville emerge atop the AFC South, it's not that bad of a loss. The big win over Philadelphia spoke volumes about what that offense is capable of. The Cowboys rank third in the NFL with 28.9 points per game, behind Philly and Kansas City.

The only realistic preview we've seen from the BILLS during the regular season would be a Week 10 home game against the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, I don't consider the Vikes to be a top 3 team, so I'll concentrate on what we saw in that game, and since, from the Bills. It was an epic overtime game the Vikings stole, 33-30. The Bills haven't lost since, and we'll see what they're made of this weekend in Cincinnati, where they'll face the defending conference champion Bengals. Buffalo has won six in a row behind its potent offense, averaging 28.3 points per game. But truth be told, albeit, against a rather shoddy slate, the Bills' defense has been rather impressive for the most part. The Bills allow the second-fewest points per game (17.5) while the opposition ends offensive drives with a score just 30.8% of the time, the third-lowest in the NFL. I'm not sold on Buffalo's schedule strength, so if it runs into a solid defense, things could end quickly for the Bills in the postseason.

It doesn't surprise me that the odd team out is the EAGLES, who I feel have played the weakest schedule among the NFL contenders on the whole. Per teamrankings.com, Philly has played the fourth-weakest schedule, with Frisco two spots lower at 31st. But to the 49ers' credit, they've been as high as the ninth-toughest schedule on the scale, whereas Philly has never been higher as 15th, and has been as low as 32nd.

So which of the matchups mentioned do I believe makes the most sense?

Cincinnati vs. Dallas on Feb. 12, 2023.

See you in Glendale.

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