Super Bowl 50 is less than two months away. As teams separate themselves to earn playoff spots, some are also separating themselves as title contenders. For every week leading up to the Big Game, I’ll rank the top teams in line for a Super Bowl berth.
1. Carolina Panthers (13-0, Clinched Playoffs)- The 38-0 beatdown of Atlanta solidified the Panthers as the best team in the NFL. They hold home field advantage and have a strong chance to win out.
2. Arizona Cardinals (11-2, Clinched Playoffs)- If Arizona played the Panthers in the NFC Championship in January, the Cards could be the favorite to win the game. Arizona has several wins over contenders under their belt.
3. New England Patriots (11-2)- The Patriots are injured, but a poor performance from Denver and the injury to Andy Dalton puts New England far above the pack.
4. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)- Russell Wilson is on a roll and the Seahawks followed up a 38-7 rout of Minnesota with a 35-6 romp over the Ravens. The injury to rookie Thomas Rawls will hurt, even more than the loss of Jimmy Graham.
5. Denver Broncos (10-3)- The Broncos couldn’t put points on the scoreboard in the second half as they were upset by the Raiders, but a defense that held Oakland to 200 fewer yards makes this team a real contender.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)- Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense is gelling at the right time. This is the team to watch in the AFC.
7. Green Bay Packers (9-4)- Green Bay is taking baby steps back to powerhouse status. The effort to reignite the rushing game worked against Dallas and will be needed for a playoff run.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (10-3)- The Bengals are putting together a monster season, but an injury to quarterback Andy Dalton caused the season to take a turn for the worst. A.J. McCarron will fill in for Dalton and has a chance to prove himself as the leader of a playoff contender.