Aqib Talib spent 12 seasons as a cornerback in the NFL. He knows football. He just delivered a steaming hot take, though. With the AFC as tight as it is currently, the playoff race is wide open. Talib recently revealed his shocking prediction for which team will represent the conference in Super Bowl LVI. According to the player-turned-media personality, the Cleveland Browns have as good a shot as anybody.
Aqib Talib predicts the Browns will reach the Super Bowl
On a recent episode of Catchin’ Fades with Aqib Talib, the former Buccaneers, Patriots, Broncos, and Rams corner made his AFC prediction.
Talib started by guaranteeing that one of five teams is going to come out of the NFC. On the other hand, he believes the AFC is absolutely up for grabs.
“It’s probably 12 teams, no less than 11 teams, that actually got a shot to do something,” he said. Talib pinpointed the Cleveland Browns as a team that sticks out, though.
The Browns are currently 5-4 and the No. 10 team in the AFC as it stands today. They’d be on the outside looking in if the playoffs started today. However, Talib thinks this team has what it takes to win it all.
“To be honest, I think Cleveland gonna go to the chip,” Talib said. “Cleveland’s offensive line and defensive line are so dominant. Those are the kind of lines that go to the chip, man. And those teams start showing up late in November, December, and January.”
Aqib Talib predicts Cleveland will meet Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.
The five-time Pro Bowler also suggested that Baker Mayfield and the Browns’ offense play better football without Odell Beckham Jr.
Cleveland’s Super Bowl hopes rest on Baker Mayfield’s shoulders
After a tumultuous and drama-filled couple of weeks, the Cleveland Browns have officially entered the post-OBJ era. They’re off to a great start, too, after a blowout victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9.
At 5-4, though, Kevin Stefanski’s squad has a lot of work left to do. The Browns’ defense played its best game of the season against the Bengals and will need to continue that momentum the rest of the way for this team to make a playoff run.
However, for this franchise to get over the proverbial hump, it will need Baker Mayfield to finally live up to the No. 1 overall pick billing.
Mayfield has had an up-and-down career thus far. He’s in his fourth NFL season, but questions remain about whether or not he can be a franchise cornerstone at quarterback.
The narrative about the Browns being a better football team without Odell Beckham Jr. is way overblown. However, statistically, Mayfield has been better. It seems like he’s playing with less pressure which is a good sign for Cleveland.
One game doesn’t turn the Browns into a Super Bowl contender despite what Aqib Talib said. They will need to put together a string of performances like that before those discussions resume. It starts with Baker Mayfield.
The Browns have a tough road out of the AFC
As Aqib Talib suggested, no team stands out above the rest in the AFC at the halfway point. Parity in the conference has proven that any team can win on any given Sunday.
Even though the race is wide open, the Browns will have a tough road to the Super Bowl.
The Tennessee Titans are currently the No. 1 seed at 7-2. They lost Derrick Henry to a potentially season-ending foot injury but just notched a statement win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Buffalo Bills were looking like the favorite until the Jacksonville Jaguars stunned them in Week 9. The Baltimore Ravens have an MVP candidate in Lamar Jackson, so they’ll never be out of it despite being an injury-riddled team.
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have been a massive disappointment in 2021. They don’t look like a Super Bowl team, but they could definitely make a run to at least make it to the Wild Card round.
The Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders are all in the mix as well.
The AFC might be like the wild wild west in the second half of the season.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference