We are nine weeks into the NFL season, and inconsistency has been seen throughout the league. Take Tampa Bay for example. One week we may get the high flying, 46 point offense that we saw against Carolina, and the next week it can be the Buccaneers who put up three points, and allowed 38 to New Orleans. The Ravens fell to the 3-5 Patriots, and the Packers have been on and off. In this article, I bring you the true contenders to take it all. (In no particular order)
- Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are fresh off of a close win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, taking it 24-20. The game was closer than expected, but Green Bay finished with a win. The Packers have been energetic on offense for all games except for the matchup against the Bucs. DaVante Adams and A-Rod have been clicking this whole season, as we have seen some monster numbers this year. Adams has three games over 150 yards, and nine touchdowns to go along with it. Solid offense is what this team relies on, and solid offense is what they are getting. As long as this continues, and the defense does its part, we could see Rodgers competing for the Lombardi soon.
- Arizona Cardinals
All the talk this week has been revolving around the “Hail Murray” to give the Cardinals the win against Buffalo. DeAndre Hopkins made an unbelievable grab with 1 second to go to give Arizona a go-ahead win against the Bills to improve to 5-3. This win was vital, especially after a late loss to the Dolphins at home. Arizona has been ballin out this year, with Kyler and the rest of the offense just completely dominating the league. The rushing attack ranks number one, which has been a huge reason for the success for Arizona. WIth an opportunity to sweep the Seahawks this year, it would be a huge boost to winning the NFC West. How can Arizona be a true contender with such a young team? It’s simple. Keep the defense guessing. The Cards have been destroying opposing teams with the play action, with Kyler Murray’s arm and legs keeping defenses clueless. This can come in handy come playoff time, when a tough defense like the Rams are their opponent.
- Kansas City Chiefs
As we know, the defending champs have not taken a step back this season. Patrick Mahomes has been top in the MVP conversation as his unreal statlines continue. As expected, KC has remained at the top of the AFC West, with a stellar record of 8-1, but the Raiders are just two games behind. That one loss was also at home to the Raiders, who they will be playing this Sunday Night. Although that game wasn’t a great one, it doesn’t take them out of the conversation of being a contender. The offense averages 31.8 points a game, 2nd in the NFL, behind the 2,687 passing yards of Pat Mahomes. With the acquisition of Le’Veon Bell, it makes Kansas City that much more dangerous than they already are. His numbers haven’t been good at all these first few games with the Chiefs, but don’t expect it to stay that way. Travis Kelce has been in a groove lately, as his mojo has continued to put up crazy numbers. So far, there doesn’t look like a team that has a great shot at topping this Chiefs team. There is no reason to lose confidence and give it to another team as the numbers have only gotten better. Could the Steelers defense provide a challenge for Mahomes and Co in the playoffs?
- New Orleans Saints
After the rocky 1-2 start, the Saints have really started to pick things up. Winner of their last 6, the absence of Michael Thomas hasn’t shown to have a great impact as we thought it would. The only concern now is the injury Drew Brees suffered against San Fran. The injury seems serious as it is multiple rib fractures on both sides of his chest, and a collapsed lung on the right side. Now, we are talking about true contenders in this article, and the Saints can still be one. If Drew Brees comes back this year, it is all going to depend on what kind of position Jameis Winston puts NOLA in during his time as the starter. The next three games include the Falcons twice, and the Broncos. Both these teams are struggling, but will capitalize off turnovers if Winston gives them the opportunity. Let’s say Jameis leads New Orleans to two victories in the next three games, resulting in an overall record of 9-3. The Saints would remain leaders in the NFC South. If Drew Brees comes back week 14 against the Eagles, his team is still a true contender in my opinion. It’s only a matter of time before Mike Thomas gets back to his normal performance, and once he does, the Brees-Thomas duo will go back to being lethal. In the playoffs, this will be very key to pair along with Alvin Kamara being a dual threat. For me, they are a true contender this year depending on the spot that Jameis Winston leaves them in. They could be having a bye week, or they could also be playing a tough NFC West team in the Wildcard game.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
The only undefeated team that remains in the NFL are the 9-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. The defense has been top notch this year, as opponents are averaging just 28 yards per drive against them this year. T.J. Watt, and Bud Dupree are some names who have played large roles for the Steelers combining for 16 sacks so far. Big Ben has seen some games to remember, and others where he is thanking his defense. But, this team is 9-0, so you can’t count them out. They haven’t played the toughest teams yet, but impressive wins against the Ravens and Titans have been pleasing. Roethlisberger has a trio of receivers who each have a special kind of chemistry with him. The biggest question for me is how will this team be able to fare against the Chiefs or Bills? If their defense plays similar to how they have been so far, I believe that they do have a great chance at getting far in the playoffs. If they have to rely on the offense, I wouldn’t fully count them out against a top 2 AFC team, but I wouldn’t have as much confidence in them. Overall, balance will be key in the remaining games to show how much of a threat Pittsburgh really is.
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