Road to Super Bowl 50: Week 17

With the playoffs nearing, Super Bowl 50 is less than two months away. As teams pull away with playoff spots, some of those 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 win.

  1. Arizona Cardinals (13-2, clinched division, bye)- With a blowout victory over the Packers as the most recent win over a top team, the Cardinals are the powerhouse of the NFL. Even with injuries to Tyrann Mathieu and other contributors, Arizona is red-hot.
  2. Carolina Panthers (14-1, clinched division, bye)- Cam Newton and the Panthers fell to the Falcons Sunday, giving them their first loss this season. The Panthers have put themselves in position to lose in previous games against the Giants and Saints, so pulling themselves back together is key.
  3. New England Patriots (12-3, clinched division, bye)- The AFC looks worse every week, and even with a tough loss to the Jets, the Patriots are the class of the conference. Injuries have taken them off course, but as long as the contributors come back, the Pats are in position for a playoff run.
  4. Seattle Seahawks (9-6)- The Hawks won’t go into the playoffs with an impressive record, but Seattle is a tested team that nobody wants to face.
  5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-5, clinched playoff spot)- With Denver and Cincinnati facing difficult quarterback situations and Pittsburgh’s defense in question, the Chiefs are now the main challengers to the Patriots. Kansas City has won its last nine games and has the pieces to win a game or two (or three) in the playoffs.
  6. Denver Broncos (11-4)- A comeback victory over Cincinnati should turn heads, especially with the strong performance of quarterback Brock Osweiler. With Peyton Manning likely on the sideline for the remainder of the season, this is Osweiler’s team.
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4, clinched division)- The Bengals had a great chance to earn a bye but blew a 14-3 halftime lead to lose in overtime against Denver. With Andy Dalton probably out for Wild Card Weekend, the bye is needed.
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6)- A puzzling loss to Baltimore continues an up-and-down season for the Steel City. The Jets now control their own destiny and the Steelers need a win over Cleveland and New York loss to Buffalo to grab the sixth spot.
  9. New York Jets (10-5)- The win over the Patriots was impressive, but now it is on to Buffalo for the chance to go to the playoffs. If the Jets do make the playoffs, they won’t make a big dent on the title race.
  10. Minnesota Vikings (9-5)- The Vikings are a strong football team, but they aren’t built to pull off a big upset. Wait until next year and they’ll be Super Bowl contenders.

In the Picture: Washington Redskins (8-7, clinched division), Houston Texans (8-7), Green Bay Packers (10-4, clinched playoff spot)

Technically Alive: Indianapolis Colts (7-8), Atlanta Falcons (8-7)
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