The NFL season has passed the halfway point, meaning it is time to revisit the Super Bowl tier list.
Tier 6: Playoffs would be a shocker
Teams (10): Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals
This list will continue to grow as teams get closer and closer to being mathematically eliminated. While no team has been eliminated yet, none of these teams appear to have any capability of pulling themselves out of their current situation. Not all teams are created equal, but it would require a miracle for any of these teams to get into the playoff race. To make the playoffs, these teams would have to win the rest of their games.
Tier 5: Playoffs are unlikely, but it would not be a shocker
Teams (5): Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions
The Raiders are the best team of the group, sitting at 4-4 through eight games. They have a tough path to the playoffs with Kansas City and Buffalo holding down the AFC West and the first wild card spot respectively. Oakland is by no means bad, but they have a minimal chance of crashing the playoff party.
The other four teams lie below .500. While they are not dead yet, the Texans and Packers have begun to run away with their respective divisions, eliminating the most realistic outlet for the playoffs in the cases of the Titans, Jaguars, Bears, and Lions.
Tier 4: A deep playoff run is unlikely
Teams (5): Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers
Buffalo is the black sheep of the group as their schedule has gifted them the fifth-seed in the AFC. They are close to being a playoff lock.
All five of these squads sit behind an electric divisional competitor in the form of the Patriots, Ravens, Texans, Chiefs, and Saints. The hope of a division title is dwindling quickly, but the wild cards could save the day.
Two of the four AFC teams likely make the playoffs (as the two wild cards), but the Panthers appear to be on the outside looking in with the NFC ultra-competitive.
Tier 3: They could win a game or two in the playoffs, but the Super Bowl is a goal for another season
Teams (8): Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams
On any given week, anyone in this section can beat any team in the league. By the same token, they could also lose to any team in the league. The three AFC teams appear to be locked to make the playoffs with the Ravens and Chiefs running away with their respective divisions, and the Texans possessing a valuable win over the Chiefs.
Of the five NFC teams, it seems likely that three of the five will make the playoffs. The NFC East and NFC North are toss-ups right now, and the second-place finisher of the NFC North will be neck-and-neck with the Rams for the sixth-seed in the NFC.
Tier 2: They could make the Super Bowl
Teams (2): San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks
Calm down. I know the 49ers are undefeated. I know they are versatile, explosive, and lockdown. However, they have to travel to New Orleans for a de facto No. 1-seed play-in game. It works massively in favor of the Saints. I do not yet trust the 49ers to go into a hostile road environment and emerge victoriously.
Seattle has struggled with a couple of the NFL’s worst teams, but Russell Wilson still suits up for the Seahawks. As long as he is present, the Seahawks will compete for a Super Bowl.
Tier 1: Your Super Bowl champion will be one of these teams
Teams (2): New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints
These are the clear-cut two best teams in football. They each have one flaw, but they control so much of the game that teams cannot exploit their flaws. The Patriots have a subpar rush defense, but they are so dominant in pass defense that any lead that the Patriots create is virtually insurmountable.
For the Saints, they lack a big-play passing attack. To counteract that, the Saints have two of the most versatile middle-of-the-field options in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Defensively, the Saints are not perfect, but they have three layers of ballers. Patriots-Saints is coming to a television near you in February.