As the regular NFL season draws to a close and the final playoff standings are being decided we take a look at the teams that have outdone themselves this year and who might be in with a shot of the Super Bowl.
The NFL power rankings are a calculation of a team’s strength against other team’s in the same division or league determined by a number of factors. Some power rankings are determined by aggregating several power rankings from different providers.
Although they take into account week-to-week performances, there is a heavy bias on recency so the rankings are a good indication of who looks good right now. Four teams have dominated these rankings for the last few weeks and they are the Bills, the 49ers, the Chiefs and the Bengals.
The Buffalo Bills and the football world en masse suffered a huge shock when their safety, Damar Hamlin, suffered an on-field cardiac arrest in their first game of the new year, but he continues to show remarkable recovery. In spite of the blow, the team’s odds to win Super Bowl have not faltered since Labor Day of last year and are the safest bet for lifting the trophy come February 12.
Devin Singletary at running back is worthy of note. He has put immense pressure on every team he’s played against alongside newcomer James Cook that has made an immediate mark on his first season in the league. Their running game has added a new dimension to the Bills team that has been missing from seasons past and could make the difference in the post-season and Super Bowl going forward.
Defensively, and even their passing game on occasion, has not performed faultlessly but this two pronged offensive threat from the star running backs have made them a team to really watch.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners are on a great run and are universally acknowledged to have the best defense in the league. A narrow win over the Raiders, however, showed that even the defensive line is subject to week-to-week form and is not impervious to errors.
For this reason, having a stellar offense can be more reliable and is more likely to attract the approval of football fans and sportsbooks alike. San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy has come into an undeniable run of form, making huge plays right when it counts but whether or not he can get the job done in the playoffs, only time will tell.
The 49ers run puts them as the highest ranking team in the NFC and solidly among the Super Bowl contenders, at the very least finalists. An enormous amount of pressure rests on the shoulders of Purdy, the 7th round rookie pick.
Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is just one element of a powerful team in the Chiefs. The squad boasts strong defensive playmakers and a roster that plays with a huge amount of confidence. It all adds up to the fact that even when they make errors on the field – that they are known to do, like throwing a red zone interception or fumbling a kick return like they did against the Broncos – those errors don’t seem to matter and the result still goes in their favor, often decisively.
The Chiefs’ weakness, if anywhere, lies in their special team and their defensive team and when the pressure of playoffs is on, other teams mentioned in this article are likely to be less forgiving, and capitalize on any mistakes. The primary factor is if Mahomes, the indisputable star at the quarterback position is enough to tip the balance in their favor.
The Bengals had a shaky start to their campaign this season with early defeats to the Steelers, the Cowboys and the Ravens but are a force to be reckoned with as the post-season approaches.
Head coach Zac Taylor has more than silenced any doubters that were skeptical at the start of the season and shown how strong his side can be – with a new scheme implemented in week 5. Their offense has proven to be one of the most adaptable in the league.
Perhaps the Bengals don’t have the fear factor that some of the other sides mentioned have but with Joe Burrow at QB, they always look dangerous. Mahomes is beyond doubt the strongest quarterback this season but Burrow is looking like he could take the number two spot ahead of Josh Allen of the Bills.
The NFL season is never without its thrills, spills, upsets and underdogs and this time around is proving to be no different. Regardless of how well teams have been playing, there’s always room for the unexpected to occur.