There are a few teams that are clear contenders to make the Super Bowl. Beyond that, there are teams who will make the playoffs, but likely won’t cause anyone any major trouble. I have identified a few teams from each conference who, in my mind, have the greatest likelihood to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Chiefs and the Packers were not included in this because they have yet to show that they can consistently perform, which is something that the rest of these teams have done.
Baltimore Ravens (10-2):
The Ravens currently look like the best overall team in the league. They rank second in total offensive YPG (yards per game) and their defense ranks fifth in PPG (points per game) allowed while also racking up 5 defensive touchdowns. One thing to potentially be worried about is their defensive consistency, as they gave up 40 points in a loss to the Browns after giving up 33 in a loss to the Chiefs. However, since that game, the Ravens have beaten the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, and 49ers, who are all major contenders. Considering they limited all of those potent offenses to 20 points or less, and Lamar Jackson is creating magic with his feet week in week out, they are poised to make a deep playoff run.
New England Patriots (10-2):
The Patriots’ defense has been dominant. There is no question about that. Aside from the game against the Ravens, and the game against the Texans, the Patriots defense has looked unbeatable. They rank second in YPG allowed and first in opposition scoring. It is certainly understandable that they weren’t able to replicate their success from the rest of the season against the Texans as half of the defense was quarantined during the week because of illness. One area of concern is the offensive production, however, the Patriots have shown year after year that they are able to get the job done when it really matters, and once Brady’s receiving corps is steady, the offensive production should increase its performance in the playoffs.
San Fransisco 49ers (10-2):
The 49ers defense has arguably been even more dominant than the Patriots. They are currently first in YPG allowed, second in PPG allowed, and second in sacks. It is clear that this defense can hang with anyone, as they held the red-hot Ravens to 20 points. Their only two losses are to the Ravens and Seahawks, with each of those games ending on a game-winning field goal. Come playoffs, they will have a good chance to win against any team they face.
Seattle Seahawks (9-2):
Russell Wilson is in the middle of an MVP caliber season, and they Seahawks have only lost to the Ravens and Saints, who are both currently 10-2. The Seahawks managed to knock off the 49ers away from home, and over the season, they are third in offensive YPG. Their defense has not been as dominant as the rest of these contenders, but they can hang with the best, as shown by their victory over the 49ers. They are doing all of this with the 8th hardest schedule in the league which should prepare them well for the playoffs.