Article Written by: Julian Beck
With the playoffs around the corner we are starting to see which team is heating up at the right time and finding out which teams will be receiving the top picks in the draft. There have been plenty of surprising teams, players, and there has also been fair shares of disappointments. These 10 teams have been consistent all year, and each will be fighting for a playoff spot or fighting to make the Super Bowl in some cases.
#10 Arizona Cardinals
Who would have thought the Cardinals would be this good in Bruce Arians first year? Looks like Arians is the real deal, taking two control of two teams in the past two years. He took the Colts to the playoffs last year when many people thought they were only gonna win a couple games. Now he has Arizona in the thick of a playoff race for the wild-card, and owns a top 10 defense. Losing Tyrann Mathieu will hurt but they will still be able to dominate with their front seven. Signing Rashard Mendenhall and Carson Palmer in the off-season have benefited the team. Palmer has been dominate in his past 4 games, throwing only 2 interceptions. Larry Fitzgerald is cashing in on all his targets, and Michael Floyd has emerged as a legitimate wide out. It will be interesting to see how this team holds up in must win games these last few weeks.
#9 Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly has shown that his fast tempo offense works in the NFL. Many football fans believed Michael Vick would shine in the system but he was a huge disappointment after being hurt most the year. Nick Foles has stepped in and became a star over night. His stats can back him up with that, 20 touchdowns to only 1 interception. LeSean McCoy has been having one amazing season, racking up over 1,300 yards rushing. While DeSean Jackson has had a great season as well, totaling 1,080 yards receiving with 8 TDs in a quiet way. Their good season has all been done with Jeremy Maclin out for the season also. Philly is heating up at the right time, if they can maintain the momentum the Eagles will be able to cause some problems in the playoffs.
#8 Cincinnati Bengals
Cincy is always a scrappy team. Usually relying on their defense to give them good field position and taking advantage of turnovers. They have had many injuries on the defensive side of the ball, but have still been able to maintain their hard hitting and creating turnovers. Vontez Burficit is leading the NFL in tackles, and many GMs are kicking themselves for not drafting him. Drafting Gio Bernard has been a huge factor to their good season. He and Green-Ellis are in a time share but both shine when they are called upon. Both have rushed for over 600 yards, but Gio has been shining when receiving the ball out the backfield. Andy Dalton is having a consistent year, 25 touchdowns but to 16 interceptions. He relies on the play action a lot. When the running game is going upfield then the Red Riffle and AJ Green shine in return. Green is a top 3 receiver in the league and his stats back him up on that, 78 receptions 1,175 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. When the running game is solid, the Bengals can go past the first round this year.
#7 Carolina Panthers
So the NFL found out that when you get a lead on the Panthers it is difficult for them come back with their offense. Their defense is probably the best in the league, and was the main reason they were able to win 9 in a row. The front seven of the Panthers have eaten running backs alive and their secondary create turnovers, allowing the offense to take advantage of the field position. Cam Newton is having a solid year, 20 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, making big throws when needed and not relying on his legs. When down in the red zone is when Cam is dangerous and can score at will. The Panthers offense used to be known for their running game but Jonathan Stewart is always injured, DeAnglo Williams looks old, and Tolbert has no time to shine when they use him as the fullback most the time. Their receivers are average, Steve Smith isn’t as explosive but is still Newton’s favorite target. Panther fans should thank the Carolina defense for their 9-4 record.
#6 New England Patriots
Patriots don’t have Gronk for most the year, Welker left to catch passes from Peyton, Ridley has butterfingers, Vereen was lost after week 1 and Amendola is as fragile as a potato chip, but yet Tom Brady still finds a way to win. If the Pats didn’t have all these worries through out the season they could have 2 more wins. Brady is the heart and soul of this team, no matter who he has catching passes he will make them good and find a way to win. He and his rookies struggled mightily in the beginning of the season but with the more games they got under their belt the more comfortable they all got. If Ridley didn’t fumble every other game this offense could have taken off. Last year they led the league in rushing attempts, which opened up the passing game. This year was the total opposite. Bill couldn’t trust any running back because Vereen was out most the season. Losing Gronk right before the playoffs will hold this team back from advancing in the playoffs. Looks like they will be drafting a tight end in this years draft to help with Gronk and his injuries.
#5 Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid has taken a 2 win team to Super Bowl contenders. Their defense was recking havoc to start the season but has came back down to earth. Tomba Hali and Justin Houston are having career years, while the rest of the D are forcing turnovers. Alex Smith has been Mr.Check Down all year, but it works for him and his speedy receivers. Bowe was struggling in the beginning of the season but is starting to turn it around now. Jamal Charles has been playing MVP type football all year. Going over 100 total yards in 11 of his 13 games. Charles is doing it all, rushing for over 1,110 yards with 10 TDs and receiving for 500 yards with 3 TDs. Jamal is the complete package, and Reid will rely on him for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
#4 San Francisco 49er’s
Thanks to Michael Crabtree, Kappernick is starting to reach his stride for this season. Crab and Kapp are trying to continue from their chemistry last year and carry it into the playoffs. Before Crabtree’s return Colin was struggling, throwing all his 16 touchdowns to Boldin and Davis. Frank Gore has been relied upon all season and has been doing a good job at it. Rushing for nearly 1,00 yards, 931 to be exact, and 8 TDs. Gore has worked hard for all those yards since the read option wasn’t working this year, but those rushing yards allowed Kapp to connect with Boldin and Davis on a consistent basis. But the 9er’s defense has been disrupting teams all season long. Not allowing anyone to rush on them, hitting players hard, and causing turnovers like they always do. Eric Reid has been ball hawking all season long and causing fumbles like he wants to hurt someone. Thanks to Reid and his Defensive Rookie of the Year nominee, and the offense clicking at the right time, San Fran will be a legit contender for the Super Bowl.
#3 New Orleans Saints
With Sean Payton back the helm the Saints offense is simply destroying defenses. Brees is lighting it up, Jimmy Graham is a monster, and Colston has been Mr. Consistent. Their defense isn’t historically bad like last year. All the Saints needed was Payton back calling the shots and a defensive coordinator that can help get to the opposing quarterback. If Nola had a decent running attack then this team may be unstoppable with Brees under center. Sproles has been very inconsistent all season, Ingram has been a bust since his Heisman campaign. Pierre Thomas has been the best back in this offense, playing Sproles role better then Darren. When Brees is rolling, so is the team. Look for them to make a deep run in the playoffs.
#2 Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning is going to win his 5th MVP with his dominate offense. Manning is on pace to beat Tom Brady’s 50 TD in a season record. He is only 5 behind it with 3 more games to play. Signing Wes Welker in the off-season has paid off in many ways. Allowing Thomas and Decker to receive more one-on-one match-ups and allowing Julius Thomas to find open field. Demarius Thomas and Erik Decker are both over 1,000 yards receiving on the season. D. Thomas, Welker, and Julius each have 10 or more receiving touchdowns, 11,10,11. Moreno has been a work horse for this offense all season. When they need tough rushing yards he is the man to get it done. Moreno has rushed for 920 yards and has scored 10 times. Their defense missed Von Miller in the beginning of the season, allowing over 100 yards rushing during his 4 game suspension. Champ Bailey has been benched at some point in every game all season, getting beat a lot and not playing as physical. But other then those flaws their defense has been very consistent and causing turnovers when needed. With Peyton calling the shots this team has a great chance to make it to the Super Bowl.
#1 Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll has created the most complete team in the NFL. He has depth at every position, he is having fun with his job, and most importantly his team is having fun out there. Russell Wilson is playing MVP caliber quarterback, 23 TDs to 7 INTs, but yet still stays humble. Lynch has been beast mode all year and allowing the offense to run through him. Lynch has racked up 1.042 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns already and still has 3 games to add onto those numbers. Golden Tate is playing physical at the wide out position, while Doug Baldwin has been catching passes for big plays while Harvin has been injured. This defense of Seattle isn’t playing around this season. They made huge contributions in the off-season adding Avril, and Michael Bennett. Both players are getting to the QB and are eating up running backs. Richard Sherman is shutting wide outs down, and doing it with physical play and not with his mouth as much. While Earl Thomas is playing Defensive MVP type football. Causing turnovers, racking up tackles, and make huge play after huge play. If the team stays as consistent as it has all year then the Seabirds will be the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
What do you think about my rankings? How would you rank the top 10? Leave your replies in the comment section.