Top NFL Postseason Contenders


image courtesy of NFl (screenshot)

As the regular season comes to end, many are looking at the top contenders for this year’s playoffs.

Ryan W. and Ryan A.

After a controversial start to COVID-19-affected season, many fans are now beginning to wonder which teams have a shot at the playoffs. The season is already three-fourths over with the Pittsburgh Steelers leading the American Football Conference and the New Orleans Saints holding the #1 seed for the National Football Conference. However, contenders for each division may change as the regular season comes to a dramatic close.  

If the season were to end today, the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts would represent the AFC. In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orlean Saints, New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Arizona Cardinals would represent their conference. Teams on the playoff bubble include the Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. Not football fans know that everything could change if a team got hot.

Washington Post National Football League writer John Clayton shared his thoughts on the current state of the season with his Top Five Teams list which includes the Chiefs, Ravens, Seahawks, Steelers, and Packers. 

“They have stood out from the rest,” said Clayton.

NFL sports writer, Pete Prisco, has his own favorite picks. “The Steelers come off their bye with a big division game against the Raiders. The best is yet to come from this team,” said Prisco.

With COVID-19 in the air, many players lacked the time to traditionally train and this season has reflected it. There have been multiple severe injuries to key players, and the quality of play has suffered. Positive COVID-19 tests in many organizations have also derailed teams from having a more successful season.

Yahoo sports writer Eric Edholm said, “What we’ve seen through the course of this season is a sharp increase in soft-tissue injuries — and specific ones, such as ruptured Achilles tendons, appear to be registering at fairly alarming rates. There appears to be a direct correlation between the lack of a typical offseason program and the increased soft-tissue injury rate.”

The Dallas Cowboys are one example, as they lost their star quarterback Dak Prescott to a gruesome injury several weeks ago. He is expected to recover in the postseason and hopes to make a full recovery, but has left Dallas’ quarterback situation in disarray.

Other teams like the 49ers are full of injuries at many spots and have limited the number of players on their roster. While teams like the Ravens, once a preseason favorite, now have had so many COVID positive tests in their organization, causing many to wonder if they’ll even qualify for the postseason. 

The teams that are playing significantly better this season are those that have done their best to avoid outbreaks and injuries. The New Orleans Saints are an exception as their all-pro quarterback Drew Brees suffered a collapsed lung and several broken ribs. Despite the setback, the Saints have continued to play well. If Brees returns before the end of the season, the Saints may very well earn the title of NFC champion. 

In the AFC, two big favorites are the Steelers and the Chiefs, but as Tyler Dunn of Sportsnaut recently wrote, “The Chiefs are that rich kid with all the toys.” Dunn is clearly referring to the Defending Champion Chiefs adding former all-pro running back Le’veon Bell a few weeks ago as well as drafting explosive running back Edwards-Helaire in the draft to complement their already potent passing game headed by superstar QB Patrick Mahomes.

With a few weeks remaining this season, many teams still have a shot at making the playoffs. Maybe Tom Brady will win his 7th Super Bowl Ring, or Patrick Mahomes can win his second ring. 

“Each team’s identity is starting to come into focus” said NFL sports writer Cynthia Frelund 

Regardless of what happens, this will definitely be a season to remember.