It’s never too early to start thinking about the Super Bowl. Coming up on the halfway mark of the season, certain teams have separated themselves from the pack. How the newer clubs to the elite club (such as the Rams and the Chiefs) will fare in the postseason is yet to truly be seen, but it’s not too soon to be speculated. Here are the most realistic matchups we may see in February:
1. Rams vs. Patriots
A rematch of the Super Bowl that truly started the Patriots dynasty, this game would serve as a potential changing of the guard, as the seasoned Brady and Belichick would square up against up-and-coming Sean McVay, Jared Goff, and Todd Gurley. The Rams have done everything they can to show themselves to truly be the class of the NFC, with a playoff birth already within sight. The Pats and Chiefs both look like extremely legitimate contenders, and I believe the winner of these two will be whoever secures home field advantage. With the Chiefs still needing to play the Rams during the regular season and the Patriots having the tiebreaker, I give the Pats a slightly better shot at winning the AFC. This would likely be a high-scoring game, as the Patriots defense is quite suspect and Brady can pick apart anyone as long as he’s given a few seconds in the pocket (the Pats o-line is sneakily REALLY good this year).
Score Prediciton: Rams 37 – Pats 31
2. Rams vs. Chiefs
While the Rams-Pats would be a clash between generations, the Rams-Chiefs would be a battle to begin the next dynasty. With great head coaches and young QBs, both of these squads are poised to succeed for the foreseeable future. With the Patriots dynasty destined to fall at some point, Big Ben not getting any younger, and the Jags without a real QB, the Chiefs could dominate the AFC for years to come. The Rams have the same opportunity with Brees approaching 40 and the Packers refusing to give Rodgers a supporting cast. This would also be the most exciting potential game, as both of these offenses seem unstoppable and love to use trick plays. Expect an even higher scoring game than the Pats-Rams.
Score Prediction: Rams 45 – Chiefs – 38
3. Patriots vs. Saints
Harder to see an AFC team get past New England and Kansas City than it is to imagine Drew Brees out-dueling Jared Goff. This game would also provide a great narrative, as two quarterbacks who have managed to defy Father Time would continue to dominate the league. With his breaking of the passing yards record, many have started to put Brees in the GOAT conversation, which appears to have shifted from Brady vs. Montana to Brady vs. Rodgers vs. Manning vs. Brees. A win against Tommy Terrific would be a huge statement towards legitimately putting Brees in the conversation. Meanwhile, a 6th victory for Brady at the age of 41 would all but ice him as the best to ever play the game (if you somehow haven’t already concluded that he’s the GOAT). Another game featuring powerhouse offenses and suspect defenses, expect lots of points.
Score Prediction: Pats 31 – Saints 28
Which other teams can compete for a title?:
1. Baltimore Ravens
In a year where teams seem to have completely abandoned defense, the Ravens certainly qualify as nonconformists. They managed to hold Drew Brees in check for 3 quarters last game and were a Justin Tucker extra point away from taking them to overtime. They have a very real shot at taking a wide-open AFC North, with the Bengals seemingly on the downfall and with drama constantly shrouding the Steelers. The receiving core is better than they have been in a long time and their backs are criminally underrated. In fact, this whole team is made up of underrated players who are just going out there and doing their jobs. Harbaugh also has a knack for taking down the Patriots in the playoffs, which is quite a useful talent for an AFC team looking to make the Super Bowl.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
An all LA Super Bowl is a very real possibility. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekler make up arguably the best RB duo in the league. Phillip Rivers is playing as good as he ever has, the receiving core is filthy, Joey Bosa is coming back, and, most importantly, the football gods have been far kinder on this team than they have been in recent year. This team is fairly healthy and is playing great football somewhat under the radar. The main thing holding this team back is that should they make the playoffs it will most likely be as a wild card due to the dominance of the Chiefs. There is a world in which this Chargers team is able to knock off the Pats and the Chiefs on the road, but its still a mighty challenge for a team without postseason success in a long time.
3. Chicago Bears
The Bears looked dominant coming into their game against Miami. Coming out of this week against the Patriots, optimism has quickly turned into dismay for the Chicago faithful. I’m here to return the optimism. Mack has not been at full health these past two games, they were a few better play calls from beating Miami, and they were a yard away from potentially beating the Patriots, which they were not expected to do. They have a few easy games coming up against the Jets and Bills that should get their season back on the right track. The Bears defense is enough to give them a shot to compete in every game, which gives them a shot at the Super Bowl.
4. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikes have been very up and down this season. A team that was supposedly built on defensive prowess has followed the rest of the league in relying on big offensive performances. However, this offense is potent enough to give this team a real shot at a Lombardi. Thielen has been the best receiver in the league this year, Diggs is the best WR2 in the league, Rudolph is one of the more consistently good tight ends, and all of this has been without a healthy Dalvin Cook. This team has lots of potential, but I predict they will have to try to compete from a wild card seeding, which is extremely difficult.
5. Carolina Panthers
Big drop off in my opinion going from 4 to 5, but the Panthers are perhaps the most disrespected team in the league. They are showing that they are a real threat to return to the big game. CMAC has been a stud and the defense has been formidable. Newton is still playing well and the team has a pretty good shot at a wild card spot. A couple upset wins and they’re in.