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#pounditTuesday, September 22, 2020

Ranking the top 10 Super Bowl contenders

Patrick Mahomes

We’re deep enough into the NFL season that we can start prognosticating about potential Super Bowl winners and be realistic about it. We have a pretty good idea of which teams are going to be in the playoffs, and which of them can seriously consider themselves contenders to win the Super Bowl. It’s the right time of year to start hitting one’s stride, and a few teams are doing just that.

Here are the top ten Super Bowl contenders as it stands late in the regular season.

10. Houston Texans

The Texans are a somewhat confusing team. They’ve beaten Kansas City on the road with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, and they came extremely close to beating the Saints in New Orleans. However, questions linger about their defense, and their oft-maligned offensive line always seems to pop up as an issue at some point during the season. That said, any team with Deshaun Watson in its ranks has a chance every time he steps on the field, so they’re worth taking seriously.

9. Buffalo Bills

The Bills have an outstanding defense and arguably the game’s best secondary. For an 8-3 team, however, the hype around them is limited. There’s a simple reason for that: they have yet to really beat anyone good enough to prove their excellence. The 6-5 Tennessee Titans are the only team with a winning record that Buffalo has beaten, and none of the other opponents they’ve defeated have more than three wins on the season. Their next four games come against Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and New England, which should go a long way toward proving whether they’re serious or not.

8. Minnesota Vikings

Questions will understandably linger over whether or not Kirk Cousins is a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback. He’s definitely aware of his reputation of being unable to win big games, and that’s a reputation that he will have to shed if Minnesota is going to make a deep playoff run. Still, the Vikings have a sturdy defense and weapons on offense. On paper, they have everything you’d look for from a serious contender, but their inconsistency remains a worry. Still, they’re 6-1 in their last seven, which cannot be discounted.

7. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have, at least up until now, been unable to replicate last season’s excitement. Between injury and underperformance, Patrick Mahomes hasn’t quite been as exciting, and the offense not quite as dynamic. As they continue to get healthier, the second half of the season has the potential to be kind to the Chiefs, but the major question remains the defense. Whether that unit is good enough to fuel a playoff push could determine just how much the Chiefs are able to accomplish, but Mahomes certainly gives them a chance.

6. Green Bay Packers

With a few exceptions, Matt LaFleur’s new offense seems to produce excellent results for Green Bay, and they’ve put up some truly impressive performances. The defense is an issue, and it’s not clear how well they’ll stand up to the best offenses in the NFC. Also concerning is their performance against San Francisco in a game in which they were blown out. The 49ers are the exact kind of team the Packers are probably going to have to find their way through in the playoffs. Still, Aaron Rodgers is great, the offense is dynamic, and they’re a threat to anyone they play.

See No.’s 1-5 on Page 2

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