The playoffs are just around the corner. A lot of teams looking like the top NFL contenders but who is the best team in the NFL right now?
You could make a case for several teams.
The Eagles may be the most glaring. Aside from their loss last week at Seattle, they’ve looked like the best team in football for most of the year. Carson Wentz has emerged as a legitimate top-tier quarterback and their receiving corps have all stepped up their game as well. However, when it comes to the NFL playoffs, any team that wants to win it all must be able to go to a hostile environment on the road and win a game. They just failed that test last week in Seattle. We’ll see if they can rebound.
The Patriots are for sure everyone’s favorite in the AFC. Seemingly ageless Tom Brady is performing at an MVP level, as usual, and his weapons have been outstanding in both Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks. Aside from Gronk’s recent mental lapse, he has been the best tight end in the league when healthy. This has resulted in New England having the league’s best passing attack and it’s not really that close. Combine all of that with Bill Belichick’s genius coaching schemes and they’re fairly scary.
New Orleans has rebounded nicely from a disastrous start and is now looking like a contender rather than a pretender. The scariest part of the Saints offense is their running game. Yes, you read that correctly. Drew Brees is a clear first ballot Hall of Famer as he has been tossing the ball for 5,000 yards for what seems like 25 years now. Once they shipped disgruntled Adrian Peterson to Arizona, Mark Ingram has been the hallmark of consistency. Adding to the attack is rookie sensation Alvin Kamara. This kid is about as explosive as a player as I’ve ever seen, with the ability to get to pay-dirt any time he touches the ball. Couple that with a HOF quarterback, some solid receivers and the Saints have put together a nice little team.
Pittsburgh and Seattle are both in the same territory for me. Very solid teams with glaring weaknesses that have been exposed all season. No question that when these two squads are playing their best football, they are a force to be reckoned with. That said, there has not been the consistency there this year to warrant taking them too seriously as teams threatening to win the Super Bowl.
To me, the all-around scariest team in the NFL is the Minnesota Vikings. The purple have a ton of good things going for them right now. Not only are they the hottest team in football, riding an eight-game winning streak, but they’ve struck gold with a journeyman quarterback in Case Keenum who is seriously looking like an MVP candidate. They’ve also gone on the road and stolen victories, something that is key to going far in the playoffs.
Their defense is maybe the best since the famous Ravens of 2000. Their defensive line is the best in football, their linebackers are very good and their defensive backs are elite. Safety Harrison Smith is the best at his position in the NFL. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes has shows all season that he is capable of completely taking your best receiver off of the field. Last week in Atlanta, he totally shut down Julio Jones and stopped Matt Ryan’s streak of thirty straight games with a touchdown pass. That doesn’t just happen, you have got to be elite and very consistent to do that especially against Jones and Ryan where one tiny mistake can kill you. On top of all of this, they’re coached by Mike Zimmer who is by most accounts a defensive genius. Lastly, the Vikings’ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer has them rolling and is making opposing defenses guess all game long.
Any of the above mentioned teams could make a run in the playoffs. If I was a betting man, my money right now would have to be on the Minnesota Vikings. They’re just too well-rounded and too well-coached to put any other team ahead of them at the moment. It should be a fun rest of the season.