Hudson County is football territory, what with the Giants and Jets playing right in our backyard in East Rutherford, next to Secaucus. And North Bergen and Jersey City residents can jump on Tonnelle Avenue to Route 3 West to get to MetLife Stadium for the Super Bowl next year.
So it’s no surprise that the county’s denizens would have umpteen opinions about who’s leaving “Joisey” with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 2.
Will the Super Bowl winner come from the National Football Conference or American Football Conference? And which team will it be? Here’s what Hudson residents had to say.
Christine Escobar, 28, a restaurant manager, thinks that despite their .500 play – usually a sign of mediocrity – that “America’s Team” from northern Texas will come through.
“I’m going for the Cowboys,” she said. “They’re doing pretty good.”
Darwin Espinal, 24, disagrees with his fellow township resident. He says it won’t be Dallas – or any NFC team.
“I think it’s going to come down to the Chargers and the Broncos,” he said. “The way they are playing now – defense wise and offense wise – they’re (the Broncos) are putting up the numbers that no one else is putting up.”
Espinal believes that the Colorado team is the strongest right now, largely because of field general Peyton Manning, but that isn’t the whole story.
“The quarterback has a lot to do with it,” he said, “but the way the team is playing now, it’s really in sync.”
Three patrons of Danny’s Midway on Paterson Plank Road were unified in who they think will win the biggest one-day prize in all of North America: the Seahawks.
“It’s going to be Seattle, because of their quality of play,” said Rob Kane of Koelle Boulevard. “Their play’s great. Their defense is great, and their offense is competitive.”
“I think it’s going to be Seattle and Kansas City; they both have the best records,” said Rich Wilstermann, 54, a crossing guard and resident of Fisher Avenue, on Dec. 15. “If you ask me who’s going to win, I’d say Seattle, because of the elements. But my Vikings aren’t going to be there.”
Like Kane, Eddie Stuart, 55, was straight and to the point.
“I think the Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl,” he said. “I think they’re going to play Denver.”
“They’re the best defense in the NFL now,” said the Paterson Plank Road resident. “You see what they did to the Giants, beating them 23 to 0. Now they have the home field advantage, and I think that they’ll be right there.”
On the AFC side, Stuart says it’s all Broncos.
“I think Denver will get it, because I think they’ll get home field advantage,” he said. “And with Peyton Manning, they’ll be right there.”
So why pick the Seahawks over the Broncs in the title game?
“It’s the defense. I think Seattle has the better defense,” said the retired Budweiser brewer. “Denver has the better offense with Manning, but Seattle has the better defense. It’s going to be a close game.”
In a word: Seahawks.
That’s Michael Mitolo’s opinion of the quest for the Super Bowl trophy.
“They’re strong on both sides of the ball, they have a great defense, and their young quarterback is matured beyond his years – he’s really, really good,” the graphic artist said. “And he has a great receiving corps and a great running back. They’ve got it all.”
Who will get to the championship game and have the honor of losing to the Seattle entry?
“I would have to say the Patriots, just because of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick,” Mitolo said. “Their defense is not that good. But Belichick’s just a genius that takes things and makes them work.”
Luigi Tollis, 30, thinks either Belichick’s squad or that team from the Northwest will be crowned champs on Feb. 2.
“It’s probably a toss up between Seattle and New England,” the attorney said. “But now Rob Gronkowski’s out injured, so probably it’s not them now.”
Jackie Chong thinks neither Mitolo’s or Tollis’ picks are correct.
“It’s the Broncos for sure,” said the stay-at-home mom, “because of Peyton and all of his little buddies. To me, he’s the best quarterback.”
Jose Toribio, 21, thinks it won’t be any of the teams his fellow residents said.
“It’s the Saints,” said the mechanic and store clerk. “I remember the last time they were going to the Super Bowl. They’re a good team and they play good.”
Toribio believes New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is the key to winding up in the pigskin promised land.
“The way he plays, the times I’ve seen them – they win,” he said.
Union City and West New York
For Greg Sibella, born and raised in New England, there’s only one choice.
“I’m a Patriots fan. I’m from Connecticut and Rhode Island my whole life,” said the Park Avenue Bar & Grill bartender. “It’s mostly my heart, not my brain, picking them.”
On Dec. 13, he was hoping they would clinch the home field advantage, for an easier route to the MetLife Stadium finale.
Tom Brophy, 64, agrees with his bartender about which AFC team will get to the title game.
“I’m thinking Seattle, and something just tells me that Denver’s not going to make it,” he said. “So I’ll say Seattle and the Jets’ arch foe – the Patriots.”
And the retired teacher thinks they’ll go all the way.
“I think it’s the Patriots. They’re a northeastern team, they’ll be more used to the weather than Seattle,” Brophy said.
“I think when it comes down to it, Tom Brady has more experience in Super Bowls,” he said. “He’s won some and he’s lost some. And the Seattle quarterback (Russell Wilson) is young and inexperienced (in big games).”
Forget about the guys’ opinions was basically what Punita Hanspal, 39, said of Sibella’s and Brophy’s take on the big game.
“It’s the Carolina Panthers. I’m a North Carolina girl,” she said. “I have to pick them; they’re my team. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”
In the Hudson municipality of West New York, it’s the Orange Crush who will arise victorious, if you believe Erick Fernandez, 22, or Michael Brito, 17.
“It looks like nothing can stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos right now,” said Fernandez, shift lead at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. “It looks like they took care of everything in their way. Even if they have to play the Patriots, I’m sure the Broncos can still make it.”
Brito, an A&P employee around the corner from Fernandez’ place of work, agrees.
“It’s obviously the Broncos because I think Peyton Manning is playing well every single game he plays,” he said, “and the Broncos are off to a really good start.”
“The players – all of them – have great ability,” said the supermarket cashier. “They’ve been showing great offense and defense better than any other team.”
Richard Acosta, 45, a laboratory technician, was philosophical about the big game.
“I’m a Giants fan. The Giants are doing horrible, so I don’t care who wins,” he said.
“I’m putting my money on the (Denver) Broncos,” said Ali Huda, 26, a manager at Houlihan’s, very confidently. “I just have the most faith in them. I’m putting all my eggs in this basket.”
But Abel Semunegus, 30, a bartender at High Tech Billiards, isn’t so sure they’re the team to beat.
“The Denver Broncos lost last night (on Dec. 12), so I’m thinking the Patriots,” he said. “There’ve been many situations they’ve been down a number of points and Tom Brady’s brought them back,” he said. “I think they can get out of a lot of situations, and Tom Brady can pull it off.”
Semunegus feels that the New England quarterback’s Super Bowl pedigree is not one to be messed with.
“He has a lot of experience. He’s been there six times and won it three times,” he said. “I’m a Jet fan, but they’re not going anywhere this year.”
Devin Dam, 28, a project manager for a waste hauler, disagrees with both his Jersey City neighbors. He doesn’t think it’s going to be an AFC team at all.
“The Seahawks will win because they’ll have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and they haven’t lost at home in two years.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.