Has the AFC ever been this wide open before? On the other hand, the NFC has about five teams with two losses or less through the season’s first nine weeks. The AFC only has two clubs that have lost two games while everyone else in the conference has underachieved at some point in the season.
Could Week 9 be a forecast of things to come in the league, or was it just an off day for some of the league’s best teams? In Week 9, a total of six teams loss to opponents that had a 500 or lower winning percentage on the season.
At one point, the Cincinnati Bengals looked like they were on the verge of becoming the class of the AFC until they lost two consecutive games in a row. Preseason favorite, the Kansas City Chiefs are not playing like the team that was expected to get back to the Super Bowl in 2021. Right now, the conference is very winnable for a team that can qualify for the postseason and goes on a deep run to the big game in February. Let’s take a look at three teams that can represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI.
Baltimore Ravens: 6-2
For the first time in its existence, the Baltimore Ravens defense is not the team’s focal point right now. It has now transitioned to the offensive side of the football led by Lamar Jackson. They do not have a conventional attack on offense, but they still manage to get the job done. Baltimore’s next four games are against the Dolphins, Bears, Browns, and Steelers.
If they can sweep the season series with Cleveland and take down both Chicago and Pittsburgh, they’ll have the inside track on becoming the number seed. Even if they do not manage to overtake Tennessee for the top seed in the conference, their offense is potent enough to win in challenging environments.
Tennessee Titans: 7-2
The players for the Tennessee Titans got tired of hearing the narrative of them needing the presence of Derrick Henry to be successful, so they went and made a statement. Tennessee dominated a Los Angeles Rams team that is expected by many to be the best in the league right now. Their defense was able to force QB Matthew Stafford to make questionable throws throughout the entire game. The defense played so well that it allowed Ryan Tannehill to manage the game and not do anything unnecessary. A Super Bowl berth could be within reach if the Titans can keep this up until Henry gets back.
New England Patriots: 5-4
The New England Patriots’ three-game winning streak has allowed them to become the seventh seed in the AFC playoff picture. They are led by a young quarterback in Mack Jones, who has gotten better over the last few weeks of the season. Belichick’s Super Bowl teams have never been the flashiest but always seem to perform on the game’s biggest stage. It is starting to shape up that way for this year’s version of the Patriots.
New England has always seemed to have home-field advantage for the entire postseason; however, it is not relied upon to get back to the Super Bowl. The Patriots do not have a roster on the level of Tennessee or Baltimore, but a potential playoff matchup with either team could have upset potential.