2020 Super Bowl Contenders and Pretenders
There are 12 teams currently sitting in playoff spots in the NFL. Obviously. That was the case after the first week, and it will be after the last week of the season, too. The 12 teams that are in those spots won't be the same 12 that are there when it matters, in all likelihood. But several of the teams will be there in the end, and the others are obviously contenders. It's a good time to look at which of the current playoff teams are true Super Bowl contenders and which are just pretenders . It's a good thing for fans that there are slightly more contenders than pretenders right now - at least from where I am sitting:
New England Patriots: Contenders. There are some concerns here. The receiving corps could use help. Tom Brady hasn't been as sharp as usual right now. Depth is a concern in some areas. But if you are at all willing to count out the Patriots then you obviously haven't been paying attention over the last two decades. No team is better at getting ready when it matters. Despite the concerns, and their incredibly soft schedule to this point, the oddsmakers agree - they are the +275 favorites to win yet another Super Bowl.
Baltimore Ravens: Contenders. One of my favorite things to watch this season has been the shock some people have had about how good Lamar Jackson is. He won a Heisman playing in a pro-style offense and could have won another. If you thought he was a system guy who didn't have a good chance of success, then you just weren't paying attention. He has been just spectacular and is leading this team with his swagger. And they have talent to go with that, too. They are the +450 second choice to win it all.
Kansas City Chiefs: Pretenders. This is a true surprise. Six weeks ago or so, you could have told me that the Chiefs were going to win it all and I wouldn't have even considered arguing. But now reality has hit hard. The defense just isn't good, and the offense, even when it is firing, isn't good enough to fully carry the team. I think that they can get things back on track. Or at least the potential is there. But if the playoffs started now, they would be out much sooner than they would like to be.
Indianapolis Colts: Pretenders. Again, this looked like a much better team six weeks ago than it does now. They do a lot of things well enough, and there is upside here, but they would need a whole lot of things to go right to come out on top - a lot more than I am willing to bet on.
Buffalo Bills: Pretenders. They have been a great story, and no city deserves success any more than Buffalo. But this team has played a ridiculously soft schedule and hasn't looked good enough against the best teams. It would take a miracle.
Houston Texans: Pretenders. At their best, there is a whole lot to like with this team. But I just really don't like the coaching, and the lack of consistency is such a headache.
San Francisco 49ers: Contenders. They are tough. They play defense like crazy. I love the coaching. Jimmy G hasn't yet convinced me that he's a superstar, but he is getting the job done. I don't like any team in the NFC any more than this one. And there are definitely futures prices I like less than the +700 mark on this one.
Green Bay Packers: Contenders. Maybe I will come to regret this down the road, but I really struggle to believe in this team. The talent is there, and the results have been solid so far, but I have not bought into two things entirely - the readiness of the coaching in the clutch, and the mental toughness and determination when things get scary. They are certainly contenders, but the +1200 price is not enough to get me on board.
New Orleans Saints: Contenders. At this point, we just have to pretend that that Atlanta debacle didn't happen. I can't begin to explain that mess. But beyond that, we have a team that is very experienced, very well coached, and has the best QB depth in the league. They are the third choice to win it all at +600, which makes them the top team in the NFC. Their experience edge over the Niners makes that reasonable.
Dallas Cowboys: Pretenders. When the owner of the team uses every chance in front of a microphone he gets to talk about another coach, you know everything isn't hunky dory. This team is mentally weak. They lack depth. The coaching is a mess. I like money way too much to even consider betting them at +1600.
Seattle Seahawks: Contenders. My gut doesn't sit well when it comes to this team, either, but Russell Wilson is playing the best he ever has, they have some nice enough pieces on both sides of the ball. And though Pete Carroll would never be my first choice as a coach, and I don't really believe the fire is burning as hot for him as it has in the past, this certainly isn't new ground for him. The price, +1600, is fair. Maybe even a bit more than that,
Minnesota Vikings: Contenders. I could come to regret this if they revert to where they were earlier in the year, but I like this team. The offense has found their stride. The defense is solid. I don't like that they have a 1-2 record in their division, and they need to sharpen things up because their playoff path as a wild card team will be rough if they can't catch the Packers. But I'm not ruling them out just yet, and I like the +1600 price.
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