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Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders

As we enter Week 13 of the 2023 NFL season, we continue to piece together a picture of the final playoff standings, as well as the possible matchups that we’ll see in Super Bowl 58. Over the last few weeks, some teams have regressed, others have excelled, and a select few continue to consistently dominate to secure their position among the best in the league.

Here are four legitimate super bowl contenders, as well as four teams that have the same potential depending on how they finish their season:

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)

Coming off back-to-back comeback wins against Kansas City and Buffalo, the Philadelphia Eagles are seemingly incapable of losing to anyone but themselves. They have lethal offensive weapons such as A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, and D’Andre Swift, as well as an impenetrable offensive line led by Jason Kelce. Despite losing multiple defensive starters during the offseason, new additions like rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter ensure that the opposing offense always have something to worry about. According to CBS Sports, the Eagles began the season with the hardest strength of schedule in the league, but they continue to find a way to win as we head into Week 13, currently standing with a 10-1 record. Facing San Francisco this week, and Dallas the next, Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles aim to keep their streak of success alive and to remain one of the favorites to win it all.

San Francisco 49ers (8-3)

After losing three weeks in a row and dropping to a record of 5-3, many began to question whether the San Francisco 49ers could return to form and keep themselves in contention for Super Bowl 58. Fast forward three weeks later and the 49ers are on a three-game winning streak at 8-3. With a surplus of weapons on both sides of the ball, including the addition of defensive end Chase Young at the trade deadline, San Francisco has arguably the best overall team in the league. The only remaining worry with the team revolves around second-year quarterback Brock Purdy, who shocked the league with his performance last year, but is ultimately still trying to prove himself. The 49ers find themselves in a very similar position to where they stood at this time last year, looking to redeem themselves against Philadelphia this week, and to further solidify their chances at Super Bowl 58.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)

Following their victory over the Raiders on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs currently hold a record of 8-3. They used their latest game in Las Vegas to put an end to their three-game streak of getting shut out in the second half. Considering the production that we are used to seeing from Mahomes and the Chiefs, the fact that this streak even existed at all is cause for concern with the Kansas City offense. Patrick Mahomes gives his team a chance to win every week, however, as we saw in their game against Philadelphia, with Travis Kelce as his only reliable pass catcher, Mahomes’ best effort still might not be enough. That being said, Kansas City found themselves in a very similar situation last year, and we all know how that ended. As long as Mahomes and Kelce remain healthy, the Kansas City Chiefs will continue to have a strong chance to play in the super bowl.

Baltimore Ravens (9-3)

Currently sitting atop the AFC at 9-3, it is safe to say that the Baltimore Ravens have exceeded expectations so far this season, with their eyes on the #1 seed in the AFC. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have put up impressive numbers against several notable teams so far this season, including a 38-6 victory over the Lions, and a 37-3 blowout against the Seahawks. However, in their Week 11 matchup against Cincinnati, Baltimore’s star tight end and Jackson’s primary target, Mark Andrews, was sidelined for the foreseeable future with an ankle injury. Moving the ball down the field without Andrews will prove to be a daunting challenge for the Ravens in the coming weeks, but they have hope that backup tight end Isaiah Likely is able to fill in as a serviceable substitute. Rising rookies like wide receiver Zay Flowers and running back Keaton Mitchell, will also step up in his absence, meaning Baltimore should still be considered a serious super bowl contender.

On the Verge of Super Bowl Potential

Miami Dolphins (8-3)

Thanks to offensive super stars like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, as well as promising rookie Devon Achane, the Miami Dolphins are known as the fastest team in the league, with a record of 8-3. Their electric offense coupled with a solid defense has allowed them to continually demolish lesser opponents in explosive fashion. However, the main concern surrounding Miami this season stems from the fact that they have only performed against lesser opponents. Their three losses so far this season were courtesy of the Eagles, Chiefs, and Bills, all teams that they need to be able to beat to have a real shot at going deep into the postseason. If the Miami Dolphins can perform well against better competition before the playoffs arrive, they will have a strong chance at making the super bowl.

Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

The Dallas Cowboys are yet another team that find themselves in a familiar position this season, as they trail in the NFC East closely behind Philadelphia with a record of 8-3. The only real difference between this season and their last has been the elevated play of quarterback Dak Prescott, who has managed to keep his turnovers in check up to this point, with only six so far this season. Prescott’s improved performance this year could be the element that Dallas has desperately needed to make it further into the postseason, and possibly even the super bowl. That being said, the Cowboys are in the same boat as Miami so far this season, as they are still yet to win against any real competition. The 4-7 Los Angeles Chargers are the best team that they have beaten, and they only won by three. If Prescott and the Cowboys can start performing against better teams and continue to limit their offensive turnovers, 2023 could actually be their year.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3)

Since quarterback Trevor Lawrence was drafted first overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars have gradually improved each season. Currently 8-3, Lawrence and the Jaguars have a legitimate chance at securing the #1 seed in the AFC, which puts them in a competitive position that they are not accustomed to. The only thing that stands in the way of Jacksonville being a legitimate super bowl contender is the inconsistency in their offense. In some games they’ve looked dangerous, but these games are usually followed by a lackluster performance the next week. Their Week 10 loss to San Francisco with a final score of 3-34 was especially concerning, but they’ve since followed it up with back-to-back victories in which the offense showed great potential. If Lawrence and the Jaguars can figure out a way to consistently produce on offense, they’ll have a solid chance to make Super Bowl 58.

Detroit Lions (8-3)

Just like Jacksonville, the Detroit Lions are currently in unfamiliar territory at 8-3 with hopes of making the super bowl. Lions fans had high expectations coming into this season, and they haven’t been disappointed so far. Rookies like Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam Laporta, Jack Campbell, and Brian Branch have put up impressive numbers throughout the season and offer a glimpse of a promising future for Detroit. With the help of head coach Dan Campbell, the Lions have improved drastically in a short amount of time, but they still have plenty of work to do if they want to play in the super bowl. Their performance in their last two games has been substandard compared to the rest of this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. If quarterback Jared Goff and the Lions can find a solution for their recent offensive struggles, Detroit might just be able to play in their first super bowl. 

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