As we near the end of Week 12 in the NFL season, we are seeing some unexpected results compared to last year. Some teams have remained strong contenders, while some…not so much. Let’s look at some of the more interesting results:
Kansas City Chiefs (7-4):
Despite a disappointing loss to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl last year, the Chiefs had the No. 1 offense in the entire league. Returning many members from that offense, coupled with a defense that has improved greatly throughout the season, the Chiefs are looking like a sure contender for the Super Bowl again.
The Chiefs are currently on a 4-game win streak after a 19-9 win over the Cowboys last week.
Buffalo Bills (7-4):
The Bills lost in the AFC Championship last year, despite a great regular season record of 13-3. This year, they do not seem much improved, with a worse record than their long-hated division rivals, the Patriots, after a devastating defeat to the Colts last week. However, the Bills are still strong contenders for the Super Bowl, as evidenced by a strong 31-6 victory against the Saints this week. Next week, they will have a long awaited matchup against the Patriots, and the winner will take the division lead.
New England Patriots (8-4):
The Patriots had a rough season last year after their longtime star quarterback, Tom Brady, left for the Buccaneers. With a final record of 7-9, they did not even make it to the playoffs. However, with the addition of rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, the Patriots are beginning to look like their old selves, as they once again are a strong contender in the AFC this year. Not only are they ahead of their rivals, the Bills, but the Patriots have also had strong performances in their recent games. Still, their chances of going to the Super Bowl look very doubtful, at least during Jones’ rookie season. No rookie quarterback has ever won the Super Bowl in NFL history. Most do not even make it to the Super Bowl, having a low win rate during the playoffs. Even though Jones has had an extraordinary performance so far, it is still too early to tell if he will be able to break the mold. We won’t know until the playoffs.
The Patriots are now on a 6-game win streak, after a big 36-13 win over the Titans this past Sunday and blanking the Atlanta Falcons 25-0 last week.
Baltimore Ravens (8-3):
Last year, even though the Ravens had a great record of 11-5, they still lost to the Bills in the Divisional playoffs. This year, they have maintained their status as a contender for the Super Bowl, leading the AFC conference in terms of win/loss record. Their status was further cemented last Sunday, in their game against the Browns, where the Ravens’s defense was able to come in clutch despite having injured players.
The Ravens are now on a 2-game win streak.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3):
The Buccaneers are the defending Super Bowl Champions after defeating the Chiefs. This year, they are maintaining their strong performance, with a dominant 30-10 win over the Giants last week and a close 38-31 win over the Colts this past Sunday.
The Buccaneers are on a 2-game win streak right now.
Arizona Cardinals: (9-2):
Last year was a disappointing season for the Cardinals, who were unable to make it into the playoffs with a record of 8-8. This year, they have the best record in the league, with their only losses coming against the Packers and the Panthers. The loss against the Packers was especially disappointing, as it ended a 7-game win streak for the team. To make matters worse, the Cardinals had a devastating 10-34 loss against the Panthers only 2 weeks after their first loss. Still, despite the upsets, the Cardinals remain a very strong contender for the Super Bowl this year, with hopes to go further than last year. Their top quarterback, Kyler Murray, will also be returning from injury after a whole month of sitting out, which will definitely be comforting for both the team and fans alike.
The Cardinals are coming off a 23-13 win against the Seahawks last week.
Green Bay Packers (9-3):
A strong contender from last year, the Packers had an impressive record of 13-3. They went all the way to the NFC Championship before falling to the Buccaneers in a close 26-31 loss. This year, the Packers are once again looking strong, with a great record and a clean 36-28 win against the Rams this past Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams (7-4):
Last year, the Rams had a good record of 10-6, managing to reach the Divisional round before losing to the Packers. This year, they seem to have slightly improved in that aspect, with a decent record so far. However, the Rams have now ended November without a single win. Not only did they lose three games in a row, their loss against the Packers last Sunday showed that they have not improved by much since last year. Even though their quarterback, Stafford, is still performing strong, their losses throw their viability as contenders for the Super Bowl into doubt. We will have to wait until the playoffs to see if the Rams can pull through.
With over half of the season played, the NFL is fast approaching the playoffs. Even though the main contenders for the Super Bowl have similar stats to last year, a few changes have also occurred. Will the dark horse of the league, the Patriots, manage to win in Jones’ rookie season, or will the Super Bowl once again be within the clutches of either the Buccaneers or the Chiefs? We will have to see as we get ever closer to the big game.