The midway point of the NFL season is here. Fans now have an idea of the teams to watch out for heading into the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. Here is an updated list of the top five Super Bowl contending teams from preseason to now:
5. Baltimore Ravens
Previously Ranked: 2nd
The Ravens have had a decent start to the first half of the NFL season. Beside the struggles with the passing game, the Ravens have been able to win games and still be one of the top teams in the NFL. What has been successful for the Ravens is the rushing game. Just like last season, the Ravens lead the NFL in rushing yards with 1,251.
Lamar Jackson has begun to run more, as he leads the team with 411 rushing yards. One of the most impressive players on the Ravens’ offense is running back Gus Edwards. Edwards has been a key player in the Ravens running game with 305 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. As for the passing game, tight end Mark Andrews leads the team with five touchdown catches and wide receiver Marquise Brown leads the team in yards gained with 379.
The Ravens’ defense has been solid this season. They have only allowed 18.9 points per game, second on the league and 322.9 yards per game, seventh in the league. The Ravens will end up making the playoffs as a Wild Card team, as the Steelers continue to dominate the division. Though losing to the Steelers in Week 7, the Ravens have time to improve their passing game, especially with the return of wide receiver Dez Bryant. If the Ravens can improve their passing game, they have a shot of making it to the Super Bowl this season
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Previously Ranked: 4th
Tom Brady has proven that he can make any team with star players a very good team. The Bucs are atop the AFC South, as the Saints have won one fewer game than the Bucs. Brady does not look like his age is getting to him, as he so far this season has 204 completions, 2,189 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes. Brady can thank star wide receiver Mike Evans, who has had a fantastic season so far, with 30 receptions, 373 yards gained and seven touchdown catches.
The rushing game has also been great for the Bucs. The running back duo of Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette have been the key to the running game for the Bucs, with both combined having seven touchdowns. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has finally been performing better in the last few games, bringing his season numbers to 26 receptions, 321 yards gained and three touchdown catches. Overall, the Bucs have one of the best offenses in the league, averaging 30.9 points per game, which ranks fourth in the league. The Buccaneers also have a solid defense that has helped the offense give them wins. However, the Bucs struggled against the Giants in Monday Night Football, trailing 14-6 at the half.
Though Brady has been dominating all season, there have been instances where he has lost his cool on the sidelines. Brady was seen yelling at his teammates and throwing tablets around during the loss against the Bears. He was also seen banging his helmet in anger during the game against the Giants. The Bucs guards need to do a better in protecting Brady, as he as already been sacked 10 times this season. If the Bucs can end the season on top of the AFC South, they can make a solid push to the Super Bowl as Brady looks for his seventh Super Bowl ring.
3. Seattle Seahawks
Previously Ranked: 5th
The Seattle Seahawks have emerged to be one of the best teams in the league and a top three contender for the Super Bowl. The Seahawks’ only loss this season came against the NFC West rivals Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks have three MVP contenders in their offense; Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Locket.
Wilson, who has never been voted NFL MVP, is off to one of the best starts to his career. Wilson leads the league in touchdown passes with 26, is sixth in passing yards with 2,151 and is third in completion percentage in 71.5 percent. Most of Wilson’s success this season is thanks to Metcalf and Locket. Both receivers have seven touchdowns each, with Metcalf totaling 680 yards gained and 36 receptions, while Lockett is totaling 575 yards gained and 49 receptions. The Seahawks have the best scoring offense in the league, averaging 34.3 points per game and average 414.4 yards per game, which ranks third in the league.
The defense, however, is not as strong as the offense. They are last in the league in yards allowed per game with 460.9 and 24th in the league in points given up per game with 28.4. The Seahawks hopes that the return of Pro-Bowler Jamal Adams can help improve the struggling defense. They also just acquired defensive end Carlos Dunlap from the Bengals in hopes that he can improve their defense. Linebacker Bobby Wagner has had a great season, leading the team with 74 tackles. Even if the defense for the Seahawks continue to struggle, Wilson and his offensive line can always save them from defeat, if they can stay healthy throughout the season and into the playoffs.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Previously Ranked: 1st
The Chiefs have picked up where they left off last season. They have been one of the best teams in the NFL for almost a year now and they look stronger than ever. Patrick Mahomes has proven to the NFL why he was given a 10-year, $500-million deal with his success and his leadership on the Chiefs this season.
So far Mahomes has 190 completions, 2,315 passing yards and 21 touchdown passes. The offense has been very strong for the Chiefs this season, averaging 34.3 points per game, ranking second in the league, and has totaled 3,284 total yards so far, which is the most in the league. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are Mahomes’ top two targets who have not disappointed this season. Together alone they have 13 touchdown catches, 83 receptions and 1,147 yards gained. The defense for the Chiefs has also been equally great for them this season, and it all begins with linebacker Damien Wilson and safety Daniel Sorensen.
The only defeat for the Chiefs this season came against the Oakland Raiders. Each game it seems like the Chiefs dominate in both the offense and defense. There is no doubt that the Chiefs will make one of the top seeds for the playoffs and look to become the first team to win back to back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Not Previously Ranked
The Steelers have been the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. They were only ranked as high as 13th in the preseason power rankings. Now, they sit atop number one in the power rankings and have remained undefeated after seven games. The biggest story for the Steelers is the rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool.
Claypool has outperformed JuJu Smith-Schuster this season with 23 receptions, 375 yards gained, five touchdown catches and two rushing touchdowns. He is arguably the top pick for NFL Rookie of the Year for this season. Smith-Schuster, though not being Roethlisberger’s number one receiver anymore, has been a great sport about it and loves to see his team win.
The secret to the Steelers’ success is their defense. Unlike the Chiefs, the Steelers do not dominate each game. Instead, they rely on their defense to make the stops for them to maintain and give them victories throughout the whole season. Linebacker Vince Williams has had a great season for the Steelers with 37 tackles. Cornerback Joe Haden and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick have also had great seasons in the defense with 30 tackles each.
The Steelers can make it through the playoffs as the number one seed and have home field advantage throughout the whole playoffs. Many NFL experts believe the Steelers can win the Super Bowl this season with its strong defense and veteran quarterback. If the Steelers win the Super Bowl, it will be Ben Roethlisberger’s third Super Bowl ring and head coach Mike Tomlin’s second Super Bowl victory as a head coach.