At this point in the 2017 NFL season there is currently only one Super Bowl quality team, the Philadelphia Eagles. The remaining teams in the hunt are historically-speaking nothing special, each saddled with various weaknesses. Here’s my rank of the top 10 teams after Week 8. Only three AFC teams make the list.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz not only looks like the real deal, he has a real shot at MVP. The Eagles O-line is one of the best in the league, and their defense is playing better than expected.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Better than average Alex Smith is playing way better than average this year. But losing Eric Berry was a huge blow to this team. With him they would be a “Super Bowl quality” team. I give the Chiefs a slightly less than 50% chance of reaching the Super Bowl. I think they will earn the top seed and 1st round bye. However, they will likely be no better than a 3 to 5 point favorite in each of their playoff games. Statistically this means there is a better than 50% chance they don’t win both playoff games.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Rothlesburger is starting to play like his old self, and the defense is improved from last year. They are not a great team, but they have valuable playoff experience that could be huge in an AFC Championship showdown with the Chiefs.
- Seattle Seahawks – This team can’t be counted out because of a solid QB in Russell Wilson, and a still very good defense. This team’s huge achilles heal is their literally offensive offensive line. Its a good thing Wilson is smart and mobile.
- New England Patriots – Tom Brady continues to defy genetics and I still think we need to examine his birth certificate (tongue in cheek). But their defense won’t be able to get away with smoke&mirrors this year. And if the 40-year-old codger Brady gets hurt, they’re hosed. Aside from Brady and Belichick, their biggest advantage is the once again cakewalk AFC East that could land them the top seed.
- Los Angeles Rams – This team could really be good, but will they falter down the stretch with a young QB?
- Dallas Cowboys – This team is playing better after a sketchy start. The key is finding a way to make the playoffs without Elliot who is likely to be suspended for 6 games.
- Minnesota Vikings – This team is finding a way to win, and is sitting pretty for a possible 1st round bye now that Aaron Rodgers and the Pack are out of the equation.
- Carolina Panthers – This team has lots of balance. If they find consistent play out of Cam and find a way to win at home, they could make waves in the playoffs.
- Atlanta Falcons – This team has lost their way offensively, and they are at best average on defense (see Super Bowl collapse). But they have too much potential to not be considered as still in the mix.
Pretenders: The Buffalo Bills look decent in the standings, but if we find our way back to reality this is an average football team. Same goes for the Titans and the Saints.
Unlikely miracle: Green Bay Packers. If they can somehow sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, they instantly become a viable challenge for the NFC title.