14 weeks have gone by, and playoffs are right around the corner. The LA Rams are the first team to officially clinch a spot in the playoffs and with 3 weeks of the regular season left, the playoffs seem closer than ever. In an ever-competitive NFL, Vegas currently favors the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. However, my prediction is that Tom Brady and Drew Brees will lead their teams to a showdown between two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time this February. In my predictions below, I give my current rankings of the top 6 teams in each conference.
- New Orleans Saints (10-2) – Drew Brees is having one of the best seasons he’s had in his entire career, but this is largely due to the sheer amount of weapons he has around him. Led by the best young running back and wide receiver combination in the NFL, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas have both had historical seasons that should only continue into playoffs. As long as the defense can defend the NFC’s other top offenses, the Saints remain at the top of the rankings.
- Los Angeles Rams (11-1) – Despite the loss to Cooper Kupp, this offense is still dynamic. Brandon Cooks and Robert Woods still make up one of the best receiving corps in the NFL and Todd Gurley is having an MVP-like season, powering the team to a 10-1 record. With very few holes on defense, Aaron Donald has lead the team defensively and once again showed us why he is worth the $135 million contract he signed this April.
- Chicago Bears (8-4) – 2018 is the year that Bears fans have been waiting for. 2nd year QB Mitch Trubisky has shown why Chicago traded up to get him in his time under center. With the early-season acquisition of Khalil Mack, the Bears will ride the best defense in the NFL to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years. Assuming Trubisky returns to full strength, Chicago has all the tools to compete against the best teams in the NFL.
- Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) – Despite an underwhelming record and a poor performance against the Patriots last week, Minnesota has a combination of one of the best offenses and defenses in the league that is capable of leading the Vikings deep into the playoffs. Along with the best safety in the league in Harrison Smith, the Viking’s need to start living up to their potential before the regular season finishes.
- Dallas Cowboys (6-6) The Cowboys have finally reclaimed the top of the NFC East. Despite a horrid start of the season by Dak Prescott, he finally showed he can be star the Cowboys hoped he would be with a dominant game against New Orleans. As long as Dallas’ defense can prevent other top offenses from routing them in the playoffs, the Cowboys have a chance.
- Seattle Seahawks (7-5) – After the departure of Richard Sherman, the long-tenured “Legion of Boom” is officially gone. Many thought this would be a rebuild season for the Seahawk but Russell Wilson has continued to defy the expectations. Like always, this season is resting on the shoulders of Wilson.
- New England Patriots (9-3) – As long as Bill Belichick is coaching and Tom Brady is under center, the Patriots will always be contenders. Josh Gordon has already proven himself as a receiver, showing flashes of stardom in the last 10 weeks. After a dominant game against Minnesota, New England has finally showed that it’s defense is able to shut down elite offenses. In what may be Brady’s final season, New England is the favorite coming out of the AFC.
- Kansas City Chiefs (10-2) – The young offensive core built around QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill and RB Kareem Hunt is here to stay for quite a while…. Or should’ve been around for a while. With the recent surfacing of a video showing RB Tyreek Hill assaulting a woman, Kansas City cut him. However, KC has still shown that they can hang with even the most veteran of teams but this season rides or dies with their 2nd year QB.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1) – the Steelers have shown that they don’t need Le’Veon Bell in the backfield to compete. Ben Roethlisberger is a seasoned veteran with a strong enough offensive core around him that is capable of leading Pittsburgh back to the Super Bowl.
- Los Angeles Chargers (9-3) – Phillip Rivers has waited for about 10 years to finally have a team as good as the one he has right now. The Chargers may have one of the best D-lines in all of football consisting of Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, and Brandon Mebane, along with an elite secondary lead by young star Casey Hayward.
- Houston Texans (9-3) – After 2 years of high expectations and poor results, this might finally be Houston’s year. A tremendous defense with a healthy JJ Watt rushing the passer, along with Tyranna Mathieu at safety complements one of the best QB-WR combinations in the league in DeAndre Hopkins and DeShaun Watson.
- Baltimore Raves (7-5) – The last remaining Wild Card slot is a toss-up but Baltimore looks like it could pull away. Lamar Jackson has already set records in his 3 games at quarterback but his inexperience may be enough of a reason to start the seasoned veteran Joe Flacco, assuming the Ravens make playoffs.