Week 9 of the NFL regular season signalled a turning point for many teams, the last week before two different playoff teams get their top-5 quarterbacks back into the fold. Teams are starting to pull away in both directions (see; Cincinnati Bengals). Here are the post-week 9 Super Bowl favourites, the teams hot on their heels, and the underdogs that could still shock the world.
New England Patriots; Be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If this were a list of the best teams in the AFC, or a weekly power rankings list, there is an argument that could be made for the Lamar Jackson led Ravens to be the top dog in this stacked conference. But, it’s not. The Pats have shown time and again for as long as any of us can remember that they are always in the running to make it the Big Dance. Come February we may look back at this loss and see it as merely a bump in the road.
On the edge
Baltimore Ravens; They are right there, they are breathing down Belichick’s hoodie, they can feel how close they are to taking down the Big Dog, but what has this team done for us lately? Yes their offense is rolling, yes their defense is imbued with that classic Raven spirit. However, we have yet to see them do anything in the postseason with this team. When it gets cold, and coaches can dedicate their whole week to crushing your dreams, we don’t know how this team is going to respond.
Kansas City Chiefs; Being the third most likely to make it the Super Bowl in the AFC is the farthest thing from a slight to this Chiefs team. It is closer to testament to the talent both new and veteran across the conference. Andy Reid can lead a blind horse to water and a Matt Moore to 31 points and a win versus a Packers defence thought by many to be one of the league’s best. Once Patrick Mahomes returns we will be able to see what this team will look like before we head into the playoffs, then, and only then, will we really be able to know how far this team, and this defence, can go.
San Francisco 49ers; The only undefeated team left in the league, leading the league in total defence and pass defence in yards per game. Second in the league in rushing yards per game. The number can’t lie, they have played too many games and showed the league too much to be told that ‘they haven’t played anyone.’ The 49ers are legit. They don’t care who is across the line from them they are going to run it and they are going to play defence, both things that New England, the most successful team of the past two decades leaned into heavily at the end of last year to win Brady’s sixth ring. In the cold and wet playoffs, the 49ers won’t need to change what they like to do.
On the Edge
New Orleans Saints; Teddy went undefeated, when going .500 would have been an achievement. Brees is back, and a team on a winning streak just got back a Hall of Fame, historically great, Super Bowl winning quarterback. The Saints are putting pressure on the Niners to try keep their lead, there is no margin for error with Drew Brees and Sean Payton on your heels. The Niners need to keep their foot on the gas and be ready to match up against the most prolific passing quarterback of all time, who seems to be getting better with age.
Seattle Seahawks; Sometimes needing your MVP quarterback to score 40 points against a 2-win Buccaneers team is what needs to be done, and Russell Wilson can do that. With 4 wins and 0 losses on the road this season, the Seahawks feel like a team who can win anywhere under any circumstances. There is no guaranteed win going up against the Seahawks, and with the addition of whatever Josh Gordon can give them, the ceiling is a Super Bowl victory.