2023 Super Bowl contenders

2023 Super Bowl contenders
January 12
12:15 2023

Thank goodness there is no clear-cut best team in the NFL this season. This means there is some uncertainty as to who will win the Super Bowl this year. Although there is not a dominant team out there, there are a few teams that are clearly championship caliber.  

Normally I would try to figure out who I think will represent their respective conferences in the Super Bowl; however, I thought this season I would give my thoughts on the teams that I feel have a chance to win it all and why.

Buffalo Bills: I wanted to start with the team that I thought would win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season. Buffalo is good on both sides of the ball and has a difference-maker at the quarterback position in Josh Allen and one of the best receivers in the game in Stefon Diggs. Admittedly, their defense has not played up to their early season standard as of late because of injuries to key players, but I think they still have enough on the defensive side to win the chip. The league has decided to cancel the game against Cincinnati so I don’t know if that cancellation will help or hurt them.

The Bills play the New England Patriots in their season finale and with that Bengal game still up in the air, who knows if they will have anything to play for, which will dictate if the starters will play this Sunday. I think the Bills have learned their lessons from the last two playoff runs and this will be the year they put it all together. They have a game that travels well, with the fact they like to run the ball and they play hard-nosed defense. I just pray their psyche as a team has come together after that catastrophic injury to their teammate Damar Hamlin. I think they will dedicate themselves even more to try and win it all for Damar.

Kansas City Chiefs: It seems like the Chiefs have been the talk of the town for the past four or five years. In that span, they have only won one Super Bowl title, which my idol Michael Wilbon famously calls “a dynasty of one.”  In the offseason The Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill, who was their most dynamic weapon, but they still remained one of the most prolific offenses in the league this season.  

The Chiefs won the AFC West for the seventh consecutive year and are currently 13-3 on the season. Their record is a bit misleading as they have won some pretty close games all throughout this season. They could have easily lost some of those games, which would have made their season look much differently. Thankfully for the Chiefs and their fans, they have Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback, so he makes up for many of their deficiencies.

Mahomes is having yet another MVP caliber season at quarterback. If they secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC, it will be hard for anyone to beat them in that environment. My only worry about the Chiefs is their lack of a consistent running game. Andy Reid is a great head coach and a great play caller, but I wonder what will happen if the elements, such as heavy rain or high wind, force them to run the ball more. Can they do that, or will they stick to their bread and butter? Either way, Kansas City will be a tough out.

Philadelphia Eagles:  Prior to the injury to quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Eagles had only suffered one loss, which was to the Washington Commanders. They have now lost two in a row without Hurts and look to finish the regular season with a win against the New York Giants. They need that win to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have that coveted first round bye. They also need the win to claim the NFC East title as well. A lot is riding on the game against the Giants.

I think the Eagles need this game more than any other team in the conference. Hurts was a legit MVP candidate prior to hurting his shoulder and if he is healthy, I am not sure anyone in the NFC can beat them at home. DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown have a great connection with Hurts and their defense is one of the best in the league.  

Hurts has been a game changer this season. So far he has thrown for 3,472 yards and 22 touchdowns, while rushing for 747 yards and 13 additional touchdowns. His duel threat ability is what makes their offense so dynamic. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Hurts was “close” to playing last week, but his health was the number one priority, so they chose to sit him out. The Eagles have to decide whether playing Hurts is worth the risk of injury to secure the No. 1 seed or just let the chips fall where they may with backup Gardner Minshew. I bet the former.

San Francisco 49ers: I was very high on the 49ers after the acquisition of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has really paid dividends for them after the injuries they suffered at the running back position. Their defense is probably playing the best in the league, but I was afraid of them taking a step back when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season ending broken foot against the Miami Dolphins.

Fortunately for the 49ers, they had a capable backup in rookie Brock Purdy out of Iowa State. Purdy came in for relief of Garoppolo against Miami and threw for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. He led them to a 33-17 win that day and has gone on to win all four of his starts since then. 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff seem to have put together a great game plan for Purdy. Shanahan is already considered one of the best play callers in the game and if he can win a Super Bowl with what is essentially a third string quarterback, that would be an amazing feat.

With their wealth of playmakers at the skill positions and their strong defense, the 49ers have a great chance to get back to another Super Bowl. If Purdy continues playing on this level, the sky’s the limit for the 49ers. My only worry is that there is some tape on Purdy now and there are some very smart defensive coordinators around the league, so one may be able to find a weak link in his game. Not sure it will happen, but it could. Until then, the Niners will be a force in the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys: It pains me to even write this, but the Dallas Cowboys are a Super Bowl contender. They seem to be clicking on all cylinders on offense and their defense is good enough to compete against just about any team in the league. The Cowboys have finally figured out that leaning on their running game is a better option than letting Dak Prescott drop back 40 times a game. Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard are arguably the best running back duo in the league.

Prescott has really formed a great bond with CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz is one of the better tight ends in the league. I am not sold on Dallas due to their shortcomings in the playoffs recently and I feel that Prescott is a bit overrated. Nonetheless, on any given Sunday the Cowboys have enough pieces to beat any team in the NFC. The question that remains is, will they?

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals represented the AFC last season in the Super Bowl and were a few plays away from winning the whole thing. The Bengals got off to a slow start the first half of the season and many didn’t feel they would be able to bounce back the way they did. The injury to Ja’Marr Chase didn’t help any, either. Now that he is back, they are on a roll and have won seven consecutive games (not including the canceled game against the Bills).

Joe Burrow has playmakers at every skill position on the field and they have upgraded their offensive line this year also. That experience they gained during last season’s playoff run will bode well for them this year. I am not sure anyone wants to play them right about now, especially at home. I am not in love with their defense as they do not create a lot of turnovers, nor do they get to the quarterback as often as I’d like, but they are serviceable.  

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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