With only three games remaining in the NFL regular season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl are close on the horizon. Among the current top dogs in the league, here are our picks for the three AFC contenders most likely to make it to Super Bowl LIV.
3. New England Patriots
While it’s too early to say if Bill Belichick’s seemingly impenetrable dynasty is starting to crumble, that doesn’t mean the Pats’ back-to-back losses to Houston and Kansas City isn’t concerning for the reigning Super Bowl champions. For the first time in their last six meetings, the Texans finally triumphed over New England in a dominant performance that ended 28-22. In the following week against the Chiefs, Brady and company fell short again 23-16 – a loss that marked the end of the Patriots’ 21-game home win streak. These crushing blows left a two-game cushion for Baltimore, who now claims the top spot in the AFC. With that said, Belichick’s team is still 10-3 and in front of the AFC East. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Patriots over the past few seasons, never count them out.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs made a statement in Week 14 marching into Foxborough and coming away with a decisive victory. Their win translated to a playoff spot and an AFC West division title for the fourth straight year. While Patrick Malholmes and the rest of the offense might not be the electric catalyst to spur the Chiefs into the Super Bowl, their defense just might be. In their win against the Patriots, the defense held Brady to just 169 passing yards and only one score, partly by virtue of an interception and three sacks. Now, just one game behind the Pats in AFC standings, the Chiefs have a key opportunity ahead of them and three games to make it happen. It’ll start in Week 15 upon their return to Arrowhead to host the Broncos.
1. Baltimore Ravens
It’s beginning to look more and more like Baltimore – not just in the AFC, but in the entire NFL – is the team to beat. As one of only two teams remaining with an 11-2 record (the other being San Francisco) the Ravens have demonstrated week in and week out one of the most volatile run games and dynamic offenses in recent memory, leading the NFL in offensive points scored per game with an average of 30.6 points. As for Lamar Jackson, the MVP frontrunner is as athletic and dexterous as quarterbacks get. Between breaking ankles and spinning out of tackles, Jackson looks like Houdini on the field, and his stats show for it. In the Ravens’ Week 14 win against the Bills, Jackson made history when he hit 1,000 rushing yards – the most ever for a Ravens quarterback. With Michael Vick’s record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season (1,039) well within reach, Jackson will surely be breaking more records this season. Bottom line, Harbaugh’s team might not just be going to the Super Bowl, but may very well return to Baltimore with the franchise’s third Lombardi trophy.