The 2017-2018 NFL season is in full swing, and almost every team has a clean slate to try to earn a spot in the postseason. Fans, prepare yourselves for the most action-packed NFL season in the history of the league. 31 teams (Sorry, Jets.) are all vying for a chance to raise the Lombardi Trophy. Sit back, relax, and look out for these teams to still be around come playoffs.
New England Patriots:
Despite starting the season on a negative note, the New England Patriots are still heavy favorites to win the Superbowl. Losing Julian Edelman in a preseason injury will impact the Pats receiving core, but with the addition of speedy Brandin Cooks from New Orleans and a healthy Rob Gronkowski, their offense is still as unstoppable as ever. What could hurt the Patriots, especially late in the season, is the injury bug moving its way through the team. In their first game, multiple players on the Pats defense went down with injuries that left them on the sideline, while the Kansas City Chiefs stole a win in Foxborough.
With Cowboy’s running back Ezekiel Elliott playing the entire season, there are few teams that will be able to stop the Dallas Cowboys. Now a year older with playoff experience, both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are about to take over the NFL. Combined with wide receiver Dez Bryant and arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, the Cowboys are a tough team to beat.
Green Bay Packers:
The Green Bay Packers have started to become synonymous with the NFL Playoffs. Aaron Rodgers has been leading teams to the postseason with ease and has not shown any signs of slowing down. Although the Packer’s defense has been questioned going into the 2017-2018 season with veteran linebacker Clay Matthews on the back nine of his career, the Packers are another team that will be favored in all their games.
Coming off an MVP-level season, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is ready to torture opposing secondaries. Along with a strong receiving core consisting of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, the Raiders added veteran running back Marshawn Lynch to create a very dynamic offense. Lynch has aged but can provide valuable third-down carries and be a steady, blue-collar back for the Raiders. Not to mention, on the defensive side of the ball, Kahlil Mack is one of the most unstoppable forces in the NFL. Combined with a strong aerial threat and a good pass rush, the Raiders will need to stay healthy and not lose focus if they have any hopes of making it to the playoffs and beyond.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Another team expected to make a run at the Superbowl is the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have been very consistent over the past couple of seasons under Head Coach Andy Reid. With one of the stingiest defenses in the entire league, pass rushers Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Dontari Poe will need to continue their success. Offensively, question marks surround veteran quarterback Alex Smith, but he has been proving people wrong by playing strong, consistent football for the Chiefs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
One team not on everyone’s radar is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As of late, Tampa has been making great strides toward returning to the postseason, led by young quarterback Jameis Winston and offseason acquisition DeSean Jackson. The Bucs also have a mean defense with a strong pass rush lead by Captain Gerald McCoy. Look out of the Bucs to turn some heads in a competitive NFC South division.