In-Season NFL

Who can Challenge the Chiefs and Patriots?

If there is one area where the NFL is far superior to the NBA it is the turnover and the competition that there constantly is in football. That may not be the case this season. The NFC is clearly the better conference and it isn’t even close. 

Through five weeks, there are 11 teams in the NFC that are above .500 compared to just seven in the AFC. Also, three of the four winless teams in the NFL are in the AFC. 

The AFC, however, is still home to the two of the five best teams in the league in the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. 

The Patriots and the Chiefs, who both participated in the 2018 AFC championship, are clearly in a class of their own in the AFC, but the question is, who is the third-best in the AFC after the Patriots and Chiefs? Maybe, more importantly, who can potentially challenge the Patriots or Chiefs?

There are four teams who are making the best case for themselves this early in the season.

The Ravens led by the improved Lamar Jackson. The surprise of the season in the Buffalo Bills who are getting it done on the back of their top-five defense. The Colts who have done incredibly well to make up for the loss of Luck. The Texans are in that mix too. Each has a case to be with the elite of the conference but none have been truly convincing to this point in the season.

Baltimore started off incredibly well with back to back wins but then lost two straight. The Ravens avoided losing three straight as they needed overtime to beat the Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges led Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lamar Jackson has made that much talked about second-year jump and it’s been a joy to watch. Jackson, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and Mark Ingram have led a high powered offense. The defense has not been as stout as they’ve been in years past but the Ravens are certainly up there in the AFC. 

Baltimore had a shot at the chiefs already and were outdone by Mahomes and his magic. Much like last season they have shown that they are one of the better teams in the AFC can certainly hang with anyone.

Maybe the biggest surprise of the season to this point has been the 4-1 Buffalo Bills. A top-three defense from last season has followed up that performance by somehow looking even better. A week after holding Brady and the Patriots offense to just nine points, the Bills held the Titans to just seven points. If not for an ugly hit that knocked Josh Allen out against the Patriots, the Bills could very well be 5-0.

The Colts have also been one of the bigger surprises of the season. Their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck literally retired during the preseason but lucky for them, they have one of the best backups in the league in Jacoby Brissett.

Marlon Mack, Brissett and the defense have kept the Colts afloat and in the playoff hunt. Indianapolis made a statement this past weekend with a win on Sunday night in Arrowhead over the Chiefs.

The Colts defense that was without both Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker managed to hold Patrick Mahomes and the potent Chiefs offense to just ten points.

Indianapolis managed to get it done after being shut down in the playoffs a season ago and have now shown that they can hang with the elite.

One of the Colts’ two losses was in overtime and the other one was by seven points. As much as they are close to potentially being 5-0 each of their wins have also been close. Their three wins have come by a combined 11 points which is not very convincing.

The Texans are just as just special as the other three teams mentioned, if not more. The Texans sit at 3-2 with their two losses coming by a combined eight points.

Houston bounced back from a six-point loss to the Panthers with a 21 point win over Atlanta. The 53 points the Texans put up in week 5 showcased exactly what the offense is capable of, especially what Watson and Fuller can do when they’re connecting. Houston can also easily be 4-1 if it weren’t for the heroics of Drew Brees.  

The Texans still have JJ Watt on the defensive end, but the Jadeveon Clowney trade may have unleashed Whitney Mercilus, and we all know what Deshaun Watson can do. As long as the offensive line can keep Watson clean, the Texans might very well be up there with the Chiefs and the Patriots. 

Houston gets a shot at Kansas City next week and a shot at New England week 13. 

It’s all reliant on their offensive line and the way they play, but if Watson stays clean they are among the top three teams in the AFC and can present problems for New England and Kansas City come January,

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