Super Bowl LV Contenders: Who Cracks my Top 5?
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We have reached Week 17 of the 2020 NFL Season. It’s hard to believe we have made it this far in this crazy year. Say what you want about the NFL, but to make it to this point in the season has been nothing short of remarkable. Have there been a few bumps and bruises along the way? Absolutely. Denver lost their entire Quarterback room and had to play a practice squad wide receiver just before a Week 12 matchup against the Saints. We’ve seen games on every day of the week, hundreds of players test positive, and no fans in the stands. The NFL is an unstoppable force, like it or not. As we head towards the playoffs, there are still multiple matchups that will determine seeding this season. After adding a playoff spot in 2020, we still may see an 11-5 or 10-6 team miss out on the playoffs. We will see a division winner under .500 host a home playoff game for the first time since the Carolina Panthers did it in 2015. The winner of the NFC East will be just the fifth team under .500 in NFL history to make the playoffs. With all that being said, I wanted to come up with my Top 5 Super Bowl Contenders list before the playoffs begin next week. I’d love to debate you on Twitter so follow me on my new handle @FFSourPatchKid Hope you enjoy!
(Image via USA Today)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)
The road to Super Bowl 55 in the AFC will go through Arrowhead Stadium. The defending Super Bowl Champions wrapped up the #1 seed in the AFC on Sunday with a comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons (I know, they blew another game). I’ve still got Kansas City at number one on my list of contenders because of their offensive firepower. I believe that they are ready to play meaningful football and have been a little disinterested in the regular season as great teams sometimes struggle with. One interesting point on the Chiefs is their last 7 games have been decided by single digits and they have been victorious in all of them. Playing close games will help them in the playoffs as opposed to blowouts. At the end of the day, when you have Patrick Mahomes and the arsenal of weapons at his disposal, you have as good, if not a better chance than everyone else.
(Image via The Athletic)
2. Buffalo Bills (12-3)
How can I have the Bills here when they play in the same conference as the Chiefs? Because they are the real deal. You simply cannot deny that the Bills have put together a great culture since the hiring of Sean McDermott in 2017. Buffalo has gone 36-26 during his tenure, with what will be a third playoff appearance in 4 seasons. All of that is impressive considering the Bills playoff drought of 17 years prior to his hiring. Josh Allen has been the biggest reason why the Bills have taken a massive step in 2020. Playing at an MVP level, Allen is having the best season of his brief career. Career highs in completion percentage (68.7%), passing touchdowns (34), and QB rating (104.2) with one game to play. Buffalo’s defense has taken a step back this season, but seems to be finding their groove late in the season. A big concern is going to be running the ball in the postseason, which you have to be able to do in cold January conditions. Buffalo ranks 21st in rushing yards per game. I could absolutely see them dethroning the Chiefs in the AFC this season.
(Image via PFT, NBC Sports)
3. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
I know what you are thinking. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers have not lived up to expectations in the playoffs. They are a consistent winning team that underperforms in the playoffs, quite typically against great defenses. There lies your answer as to why they are at number 3 on my list. There are no great defenses in the NFC this season. Yes, the New Orleans Saints have a top 5 defense in the NFL, but I don’t consider them to be an all-time great defense. Going up against Seattle and San Francisco in years past is where the Packers have struggled. I’ll take Davante Adams up against anybody right now, including Marshon Lattimore. I’m giving the Packers the slight edge over the Saints because Rodgers is significantly better than Drew Brees at this point in their careers. Special teams have been a MAJOR issue for the Packers this season and that would terrify me in the playoffs if I’m a Packers fan. Mason Crosby has missed 4 extra points on the season and should have had a blocked kick last night after a horrible offsides call. The punt coverage and kickoff coverage have given up long returns as well. Special teams can win or lose you games in the playoffs. The defense hasn’t been great against the run, but they did keep Derrick Henry under 100 yards last night.
(Image via Saints Wire - USA Today)
4. New Orleans Saints (11-4)
The health of Drew Brees makes me nervous to add them to this list, but I think he has the capability for one more postseason run. The Saints have had a well-documented history of playoff failures and flukes in the last few years. However, this may be their best defense to date. The Saints have had a top 5 defense this season as compared to previous years where they were a huge liability. Lead by All-Pro corner Marshon Lattimore, the Saints possess a lockdown corner for everyone except Davante Adams (can’t shut him down, you can only hope to contain him. Alvin Kamara has found his groove with 6 rushing touchdowns in Week 16 against a collapsing Vikings defense. The major question mark is the health and performance of Drew Brees. I have major reservations about him, especially in his past playoff failures that he can get the job done. I see him playing a game-manager type of role, similarly to Peyton Manning with the Broncos in 2015. The formula is there for New Orleans and if they can get a few breaks, they could be on their way to Super Bowl 55.
(Image via Baltimore Ravens)
5. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
I’ll admit I had a really hard time with number 5 on this list. It came down to the Seahawks, Ravens, and Buccaneers. I ultimately decided to go with the Ravens because I believe they have found their groove and came together after a season that looked all but lost a few weeks ago. Tampa Bay is too inconsistent and Seattle has major problems on offense. The Ravens to me feel like a sleeper this season, which suits John Harbaugh tremendously well. Baltimore is flying under the radar right now and feels like a dangerous team. The ground game has been excellent as they have finally leaned on the rookie J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State. He is a game changer and a much better player than Mark Ingram at this point. Yes, we have concerns about Lamar Jackson’s ability to throw down field and that will never go away until he proves people wrong in the playoffs. The defense is as good as anyone and are capable of shutting down opposing running games. Sometimes you just feel like a team is ready to make a run and I feel like that team is the Baltimore Ravens. And most of the time, as you know, I don’t know what I’m talking about so if they lose in the first round of the playoffs, I will not be available to comment.