It's time for my favorite part of the football season. The part where I imagine that a Cal player winning a playoff game can erase the stench of eleven mind-numbing losses away.
Here's your rundown of the Cal players aiming for a Super Bowl title.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers: Talk about an auspicious debut. After supposedly nearly quitting week one, Allen has emerged as Philip Rivers's number one target, notching 71 catches for 1046 yards and eight touchdowns. Allen's offensive spark helped propel San Diego on a late season run to the final playoff bid and he is a leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year accolades. (Lavelle Hawkins is also on the Chargers but hasn't played that much. Steve Williams is also on the Chargers but has been on IR all season)
Allen is headed to Ohio this week and will meet up with an old friend...
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals: In his second year in the league, Jones became the second target for Andy Dalton in Cincinnati's AFC North bid. Jones grabbed 51 catches this season for ten touchdowns, and made more of those acrobatic catches that beloved him to Cal fans everywhere.
San Diego vs. Cincinnati should be a treat for Cal fans everywhere. You can skip that other game with the Geico Caveman.
Taking the week off will be Ron Gould running backs.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots: Vereen remains the most versatile threat out of the backfield for Tom Brady and the Patriots. He's usually the third down running back so his rushing totals aren't high, racking up over 200 yards rushing on 44 attempts. But he is the best pass catcher of the bunch, hauling in 47 receptions for 427 yards and three touchdowns. Vereen also missed eight games this season, which led to his diminished production.
Andre Carter, New England Patriots: Carter might be retiring along with fellow Bears Nnamdi Asomugha and Tony Gonzalez this offseason. Carter has only played sparingly for the Pats defense, but has registered two sacks, two pass deflections and four tackles.
In today's Herald, my feature on Andre Carter, who brings some much needed leadership to the Patriots http://t.co/SdDgFvT5ha— Mark Daniels (@mdaniels06) December 29, 2013
C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos: Anderson has seen spot duty as the fourth-string running back behind Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, rushing for 38 yards on seven carries this season.
Three of four wild-card games featuring Golden Bears, and New Orleans vs. Philadelphia will be full of them.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson is tailor-made for the Chip Kelly experience. With Jeremy Maclin out for the season, Jackson was going to be the number one receiver by default, and he delivered. 82 catches, 1332 yards, nine touchdowns should quell doubters that Jackson could be the number one pass weapon on a number one offense.
Mychal Kendricks, Philadelphia Eagles: 106 tackles, second on the team. Four sacks, five pass deflections, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries. Yeah, we're all shocked that the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is thriving at the next level.
Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints: Look at you Cameron, notching up 12.5 sacks to lead the Saints, 47 tackles, four pass deflections, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and plenty of hilarious NFL Films coverage along the way. Congrats on the Pro Bowl!
Brian De La Puente, New Orleans Saints: Who would have thought Cal would have TWO of the best centers in the NFL? De La Puente has emerged to be the center of that impressive Saints offense, and while the Saints are no running juggernaut, most of the run plays do seem to go down the middle behind the lumbering force of De La Puente.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: One play away from elimination, Rodgers sent his team to the playoffs.
Rodgers has been sidelined much of the season with his collarbone injury, missing seven games and most of another. He still looked a long way from peak form in a mess of a game in Soldier Field, but still did direct two clutch fourth quarter drives and converted a number of fourth downs to get Green Bay to the playoffs. He'll have a tough task to try and dethrone the NFC champions though, but at least he'll be at home this time.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers: Who would have thought Rivera would be in this position a year ago? Last year we were considering him as a potential dark horse for Cal coach if the Panthers decided to cut ties with him. Now he's smoothed over his differences with Cam Newton, led the Panthers to the two seed and has them two wins away from a Super Bowl. Unreal.
Good luck with that. pic.twitter.com/XUgR7Jdj8b— Josh Gold-Smith (@GoldAndOrSmith) December 1, 2013
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: Not a spectacular season for Lynch, but a methodically solid one that propelled Seattle to the number one seed. He didn't have to carry the offense as much as he did the season before thanks to the emergence of Russell Wilson as an elite NFL playmaker. Still, Lynch racked up over 1500 yards from scrimmage, and Seattle now probably has the most dangerous QB-RB combination among the playoff contenders.
Brandon Mebane, Seattle Seahawks: Just another steady, excellent season from Mebane, who does all the little things to keep Seattle's top defense humming on the interior. He's not as spectacular as his teammates, but it's hard not to say 45 tackles, eight tackles for loss, a pass deflection, and a fumble recovery for a defensive tackle isn't a successful season.
I know there are some really good nose tackles in the NFL, but Brandon Mebane has to be in the discussion when the best are brought up.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) December 29, 2013
So if you're counting, that's nine playoff teams with 14 Golden Bears on them. 13 players and one coach all have their shot at Super Bowl glory. And that means a 75% chance at a Super Bowl ring!
Who do you think has the best shot at being a Super Bowl champ this year?