Senior Staff Writer
We are officially in the heart of the NFL season, and the actual Super Bowl contenders are starting to stand out. We are still in the first half of the season, but six teams have already put themselves in the Super Bowl conversation.
The Arizona Cardinals were the last undefeated team left in the league until Thursday and have proven to be a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs. In their trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cardinals received tight end Zach Ertz, and the veteran did not disappoint in his first game wearing Red. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray connected with Ertz for a career-long 47-yard touchdown in the third quarter of their matchup against the Houston Texans. The number one team in the league is stacked on both sides of the ball, but fell for the first time in a 24-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers following a mental lapse from AJ Green on second-and-goal with 15 seconds left on the clock.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have carried the momentum over from last season’s Super Bowl win. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are cruising through the competition as they sit at 6-1 going into week eight. Brady reached an unprecedented milestone, throwing his 600th touchdown in Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears. This Sunday, the Buccaneers are looking to continue their good play against the 4-2 New Orleans Saints.
The Buffalo Bills currently sit as number three in the NFL power rankings and have found momentum after starting the season 0-1 against the Steelers. Josh Allen and the Bills have found success on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, scoring 33.8 while only allowing 16.3 points per game. However, the Bills currently sit as the 26th team in the league in red zone TD conversion. If Sean Mcdermott solves the Bills’ red-zone struggles, they will create separation from the rest of the league. The Bills have time to put the pieces together as they have a light schedule for the next three weeks.
One team, surprising many, is the Dallas Cowboys, as they are 5-1 for the first time since the 2016 season. However, the Cowboy’s season lies in the hands of their star QB Dak Prescott. Prescott suffered a Calf injury on the final play of their week six win over the New England Patriots. The backup for Dallas is Cooper Rush, an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan University. Although the Cowboys are number four in the NFL power rankings, their season depends on the health of their stars.
Another team back in the Super Bowl discussion is the Los Angeles Rams. Over the offseason, the Rams made one of the most notable moves of the off-season with the addition of Mathew Stafford. Stafford has rejuvenated Ram’s offense and led them to a 6-1 start. The Rams escaped past the Detroit Lions in a 28-19 victory despite the Lions’ successful two fake punts and an onside kick. Despite how competitive the NFC is, as long as the Rams squad stays healthy, they will stay in the Super Bowl conversation.
One of the most intriguing question marks of the NFL is the Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay organization was on the hot seat for the entire offseason due to the dissatisfaction of their QB and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. Most teams would sacrifice a lot to claim an MVP caliber player, but Rodgers seemed to be towards the bottom of Green Bay’s priority list, leaving many questioning the front office. The Packers were humiliated in their week one loss against the New Orleans Saints following the preseason controversies. Since then, the Packers have gone undefeated, jolting them back into the playoff picture. The only concern has been the Packers’ schedule; only one of their six wins had been against a team over the .500 mark. However, the Packers proved their mettle on Thursday with a big 24-21 win over the aforementioned Arizona Cardinals while missing several elite players due to injury.
They are still eleven weeks left in the regular season, but as long as these six teams stay healthy, they will be in the conversation until the end.