Photo Credit: CBS Sports (featured image), ESPN (team logos)
The playoff chase for the NFL has begun, and there are still no promises for many teams this season. As the playoffs come closer and closer to beginning, I thought now would be a perfect time to list all playoff teams and whether they are real contenders or pretenders.
New England Patriots: Contenders
Any team with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Bill Belichick will always have a shot to win the Super Bowl. To me, they should be the favorites. They have the best experience and offensive ability. Plus, motivation plays a big impact in the playoffs. Forcing Roger Goodell to give New England the Super Bowl trophy has to be on Tom Brady’s mind after all that has happened with the DeflateGate scandal.
Dallas Cowboys: Pretenders
It’s hard to go against a team that has proven that they can beat anyone in football. Especially given how picking against the Chicago Cubs, who were in a relatively similar situation earlier in the year, ended up coming back to bite me. Simply put, the Cowboys will have to rely on the play of two rookie starters in Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott. In the playoffs, that lack of experience will come back to bite them. I cannot give them a good shot based on this.
Kansas City Chiefs: Contenders
It is tough to beat Kansas City at Arrowhead Field. They have defeated everyone necessary to earn my respect and good Super Bowl chances. If they can win the AFC West division title and get a first-round bye, I think they could become a heavy favorite to play in the Super Bowl. This team has won 20 of their last 24 games. Any team that hot should definitely be considered a contender.
Oakland Raiders: Contenders
Oakland has the best defensive player in football right now in Khalil Mack. Last season, Von Miller revolutionized the value of a defensive linebacker, and Mack has ridden this momentum into becoming a defensive nightmare to the teams against him. Derek Carr has not played well enough to become the MVP, but he is still a superstar and can easily put this team into a situation where they could win the Super Bowl.
New York Giants: Contenders
Odell Beckham Jr. is the best wide receiver in the game of football, but that’s not why the Giants have one of the best chances to win the NFC. They have now swept the supposed best team in football, the Dallas Cowboys, and have done so with an underrated defense. Ultimately, this one comes down to results, and the Giants have proven themselves time and time again.
Detroit Lions: Pretenders
I honestly do not understand all the hype around the Lions. Sure, Matthew Stafford has been significantly better than he has been, and they are winning games. This doesn’t change the fact that Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991, and they won’t be able to win that easily. Chances are that if they do get in, they will play a contender by the divisional round and will be beaten.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Pretenders
When I see Pittsburgh play, I immediately compare them to the Colorado Rockies to a degree. They are a team that had a past of injuries, and that has been what has kept them out of contention. Just the way Troy Tulowitski and Carlos Gonzalez would get yearly injuries. Many believe Pittsburgh could win the Super if they stay healthy. Since no injuries have happened, it is fair to think they could do it. Simply put, they haven’t done much despite being healthy and should not be a threat coming into the postseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Pretenders
To be completely honest, I thought Tampa Bay was a contender. A solid young core and an ability to take down solid teams led me to believe they have a chance. However, they were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys in a game where they were clearly not up to par. Sure, they only lost by 6 points, but it was a true statement game in saying that they are pretenders.
Atlanta Falcons: Pretenders
The Falcons truly do have one of the if not the best offense in the NFL this season. However, it has been proven time and time again that winning a Super Bowl is next to impossible without a solid defense. With all due respect to Matt Ryan, the Falcons will not win the Super Bowl this year.
Green Bay Packers: Contenders
Green Bay has been terrible this season, but only by their standards. It’s hard for people to call them elite when they have performed below expectations. However, Aaron Rodgers is still a superstar, and any team he is on will be contenders, so I cannot pick against them.
Seattle Seahawks: Contenders
They are more than contenders; they should be the favorites to win the NFC. Besides the Patriots, the Seahawks have the best all around team in football. Despite not playing very well lately, they should come back and be ready come playoff time. Unless Pete Carroll makes a crucial play calling mistake, Seattle should be able to become a Super Bowl contender.
Baltimore Ravens: Pretenders
Even though they won a Super Bowl not too long ago, I just cannot bring myself to believe that Baltimore can beat some of the elite teams in football today. Sure, they are a solid team, but nowhere near good enough to beat teams like New England or Kansas City. Therefore, they cannot be considered for a Super Bowl this year.
Washington Redskins: Pretenders
They truly are a good team, but there is no way they can compete with teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, who are pretenders themselves. I’m hoping no one is too shocked I am not planning on them winning it all, because they aren’t that nationally recognized as elite. And while I love to go against the majority, I will have to pick the Redskins to falter early in the playoffs if they get in.