Let’s take a look at 5 teams that will make a strong push for a Super Bowl title in New Orleans this season.
With almost half of the NFL season still ahead, Super Bowl XLVII contenders have yet to officially emerge. Still, fans and media have had 12 weeks to assess each football team and gauge which ones have what it takes to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this year.
Upon examining each team’s midseason report card, here are five teams that fans can expect to be in the Super Bowl XLVII conversation.
1. Houston Texans
The old adage states that defense wins championships. However, an explosive offense certainly does not hurt a team’s chances, either. The Texans have both this year, and it has helped them bolt out to an 8-1 start. The offense, led by quarterback Matt Schaub and aided by running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson, has packed a major punch this season and has become one of the highest-scoring offenses in football. On the other side of the ball, the Houston Texans flex one of the strongest defenses in the league, led by a beast of a defensive end in J.J. Watt. No team is as complete and balanced as the Texans and it will take a strong effort to knock them off their path to the Super Bowl this year.
2. Denver Broncos
The results of the Peyton Manning experiment are in and they are very positive. Many fans did not know what to think when the aging former Indianapolis Colts quarterback came to Denver to take over under center. It took some time to adjust, but Manning is playing in vintage form and it has resulted in a 6-3 start for the Denver Broncos, who are left with a far easier second half of the schedule. Manning has established a rapport with targets like Demaryius Moore and Eric Decker, and the savvy and still-fit Willis McGahee fuels Denver’s ground game. The Broncos are an experienced bunch, but young enough to still have plenty of speed and athleticism in the tank.
1. Atlanta Falcons
It took nine games for the Falcons to finally lose, but the story is still mostly untold. Many critics have cited Atlanta’s soft early-season schedule and are still looking for the Falcons to make them believers. Still, quarterback Matt Ryan has proven he can fuel a potent aerial attack with most of his passes floating into the arms of Julio Jones or Roddy White. The Atlanta Falcons can put up points, which is half the battle. They will need to shake their postseason woes this year in order to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.
2. Chicago Bears
They have done it in bland fashion, but Chicago is the best team the NFC has to offer right now. This Jay Cutler led offense has improved, mainly with the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and the Bears defense has been making a huge impact so far this season. The Chicago Bears have their hands full by sharing the NFC North with the likes of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, but it appears that Chicago is finally clicking and could make some serious postseason noise.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Even after a strong season and playoff appearance last year, many fans are still left wondering how the 49ers do what they do. Quarterback Alex Smith is one of the least dynamic quarterbacks in the entire league, saved only by the fact that running back Frank Gore and the offensive line have generated the strongest running game in the league. While it might not be flashy, the San Francisco 49ers win consistently. At the end of the day, they get the job done and cannot be counted out of the Super Bowl race for that reason.