Super Bowl 50: Sports Illustrated Dishes out Winner Predictions

November 29, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) celebrates after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
November 29, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) celebrates after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Francisco 49ers won’t be in Super Bowl 50. But the Niners still have their stamp on the upcoming feature with the game being played at Levi’s Stadium on February 7. Sports Illustrated recently announced its predictions for the winner.

Super Bowl 50 is right around the corner. And even though the San Francisco 49ers won’t be making an appearance in attempt for their sixth ring, the Niners will still be able to leave their mark on the greatest sporting event of the year.

Levi’s Stadium will play host to the Super Bowl on February 7, and it figures to be a tremendous spectacle as the world is, once again, introduced to the new facility.

A panel of Sports Illustrated columnists recently put together their list of Super Bowl favorites and, not surprisingly, the majority of votes came down between the AFC’s New England Patriots and the 49ers’ NFC West division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals.

Don Banks: Arizona Cardinals

"Their Week 17 egg-laying at home against Seattle aside, the Cardinals have been the most well-balanced and consistently efficient team in the NFL this season. Knocking off this year’s almost-perfect regular-season champion (Carolina) and last season’s Super Bowl champion (New England) in consecutive games will be a daunting task, but Arizona and its ultra-confident coach, Bruce Arians, will rise to that challenge. This is a Cardinals team capable of winning anywhere, against any opponent, and this team is ready for a good reign in Arizona."

Greg Bedard: New England Patriots

"If the Cardinals make it past the Panthers, which I’m far from convinced of, and Julian Edelman is 100%, this should be a great Super Bowl against two evenly matched teams. But in the final result, I think the loss of DB Tyrann Mathieu is the difference. The Cardinals really could have used him to vary the looks against Tom Brady, and send quick pressure. Without Honey Badger, I think Patriots are able to get a few more stops against Carson Palmer and Co., who do have the magic mix of a deep passing game and daring playcaller to knock off the Patriots and win back-to-back titles."

Greg Bishop: Arizona Cardinals

"I can’t imagine that many folks filled out the AFC side of their bracket and felt confident about their picks. But with Denver’s concerns at quarterback no matter who plays, and with New England’s injury situation, I like Pittsburgh, one of the hottest teams in football, to advance—mainly because the Steelers have an offense that can score on anybody and a defense that is good enough to keep games close. I like the Cardinals to win not only the NFC but also the Super Bowl because they’re the most balanced team in football, and they can beat opponents in a million different ways. They’re also well positioned, because they wouldn’t have to face their rival Seahawks until the conference championship, and that game would be at home, and only after Seattle would have beaten Minnesota and Carolina on the road."

Chris Burke: New England Patriots

"This is how wide open the playoffs could be: I nearly took the Chiefs over the Patriots … but I also gave much consideration to Houston taking them down in the wild-card round. In the end, I went with the Patriots because they’re still so adept at adjusting for their opponent. They also should be about as healthy on offense as they have been in awhile, too. As for the NFC, a Carolina-Arizona showdown would be sensational, but it’s a lot to ask the Panthers to take down the Seahawks and Cardinals on back-to-back weekends."

Doug Farrar: Kansas City Chiefs

"Seattle and Kansas City are the NFL’s hottest teams right now, and as much as momentum has a funny way of shifting, I think this postseason sees the proverbial “teams you don’t want to face” winning out. Right now, I see them as the two most complete teams in all facets. Carolina could get undone by an uneven run game and inconsistent receivers, and the Patriots are losing the war of attrition. My only hesitation in picking Seattle to beat the Chiefs in Super Bowl 50 is the idea that the Seahawks can’t possibly keep this offensive pace going through four road games, but it’s a great matchup in so many ways if it happens."

Melissa Jacobs: Arizona Cardinals

"The Chiefs will stop being the NFL’s most underappreciated team when they make it out of the wild-card round. Though ultimately Tom Brady, the conference’s best quarterback, will make sure his millet-laden diet wasn’t a waste when he leads the Patriots to another Super Bowl appearance. But this is the year for the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Cardinals. They field the most complete roster and have the NFL’s best play-caller in Bruce Arians, with QB Carson Palmer is having the best season of his career while managing to stay healthy."

Bette Marston: Carolina Panthers

"Peter King mentioned earlier this week that it’s not out of the question for every road team to win the wild-card round. That being said, the Packers’ last three games and the Redskins’ last three games tell completely different stories. Something’s obviously not right with the Packers right now, and on the road, they won’t be able to stand up to the current momentum in Washington, led by Kirk Cousins. In the preseason, I had the Eagles (as the No. 1 seed) winning it all against the Patriots—obviously that didn’t pan out, but I still think the NFC’s No. 1 seed will defeat the Patriots in Santa Clara. Carolina’s MVP QB and underrated receivers will get revenge for their loss in Super Bowl XXXVIII."

Amy Parlapiano: Arizona Cardinals

"I picked the Broncos to win it all in preseason and mid season predictions, so I’m going to stick with them as the AFC team that makes it (though I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs pull it off). But the best teams all reside in the NFC, and despite the Panthers’ incredible season and the Seahawks’ end-of-year surge, the Cardinals have an intimidating, versatile defense, a variety of weapons on offense and, in my opinion, the best coach in football right now in Bruce Arians. Those three things will win you a championship."

Andrew Perloff: Carolina Panthers

"Last season’s NFC playoffs came down to a handful of plays and could have resulted in a few different conference champions. This year appears to be just as close with Seattle, Arizona and Carolina at the same level. All three teams feature great late-game QBs, and the conference title game will likely come down to whoever has the ball last. I’m giving Carolina the edge with homefield advantage. None of the AFC favorites are at full strength. When in doubt, it makes sense to err on the side of Tom Brady—although the offensive line is a concern."

Michael Rosenberg: Arizona Cardinals

"The biggest question hanging over these playoffs: Which Patriots team will we see? For the first 10 weeks, they were the league’s best team. For much of the last six, they didn’t even look like a playoff team, mostly because of injuries. If the Patriots are healthy, they can repeat. But their depleted offensive line may have to battle the Kansas City and Denver defensive fronts, and those are tough matchups for an injured unit. So the Super Bowl pick here is Arizona, the league’s most complete team right now, over Denver, which has the league’s best defense."

Eric Single: Carolina Panthers

"Whoever’s still standing after the wild-card round in Cincinnati becomes the biggest obstacle in the Patriots’ road to Santa Clara. In the end, no one navigates January football quite like Brady and Belichick, but there will be no denying Cam Newton in February. The Panthers can play any type of game they have to, be it a shootout or a defensive slog, and the way team and crowd build off of each other’s energy makes it hard to believe anybody’s going into Carolina and winning this year. Even if the Patriots have a few more healthy weapons at their disposal by Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll still take the soon-to-be MVP and his unheralded arsenal. The solid second halves put together by Devin Funchess and Corey Brown helped round out a receiving corps that had been left for dead in the summer."

Let’s tally it up.

  • Arizona Cardinals: 5
  • Carolina Panthers: 3
  • New England Patriots: 2
  • Kansas City Chiefs: 1

The Cardinals and Panthers are the majority of favorites based on this poll. And the New England Patriots received the most votes out of the AFC.

So, if these predictions are correct, the NFC West should be bringing home another Super Bowl title.

It’s worth noting the Cardinals have had the longest championship drought out of any team in the NFC West. The franchise hasn’t won a title since 1947 when they were in Chicago.

Should Arizona go onto win the Super Bowl, the victory would leave the 49ers as the team riding the longest championship drought within the division.

Maybe it’s just the Cardinals’ turn.

Next: Top 30 Moments in San Francisco 49ers History

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