Ben Kuchipudi ’25
- Philadelphia Eagles
This is an easy one, as the Eagles by far look like the best team in the NFC. Jalen Hurts is playing on an MVP level, and the defense is as good as advertised, getting even better with the addition of three time Pro-Bowler Robert Quinn. The rest of their schedule is less than intimidating, so Philly should cruise to the number one seed.
- San Francisco 49ers
This 49ers team is too good to not win the division, even with a 4-4 record as of now. With the addition of Christian McCaffrey, the Niners could have the most explosive offense in the league, and they already have a top five defense, but quarterback is what’s holding them back right now. However, Jimmy Garoppolo has shown that he can win in the playoffs and he could very well do it again.
- Minnesota Vikings
If I’m being completely honest, I am not totally sold on the Vikings, but they have the best record out of the other division leaders, so I’ll put them here for now. The offense is potent with the three headed monster of Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen, but the defense could be what holds them back. Nevertheless, this is the Vikings’ best team in years and Kirk Cousins has the talent to take them on a deep playoff run.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are here because the rest of the division is horrible, but I fully expect Tom Brady to get bounced in the first round. The team is not the same as previous years as Brady looks like he doesn’t care about football anymore. Their wins have been ugly and their losses have been uglier, and that won’t fly in the postseason.
- Dallas Cowboys
This is actually the team I expect to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Cowboys have been the second best team in the division with arguably the best defense in the league. The pass rush has been elite, and Micah Parsons isn’t just playing on a Defensive Player of the Year level, but an MVP level. Like most other teams, the Cowboys will go as far as their quarterback takes them, and Dak Prescott hasn’t proven himself in the playoffs, but I think this is the year they get over the hump.
- New York Giants
Brian Daboll has somehow coached this team to a 6-2 record, and I am all for it. The Giants deserve this success and it looks like they’re on their way to their first postseason since 2016. The team looked shaky against Seattle, but as long as Daniel Jones plays safe football, Big Blue should be more than alright.
- Seattle Seahawks
Like the Giants, the Seahawks have shocked the world this season. Many thought they would be a bottom five team without Russell Wilson, but the resurgence of Geno Smith has them sitting at 5-3 halfway through the season. The rookie class has also been amazing this year, led by corner Tariq Woolen and running back Kenneth Walker. I would have loved to see Pete Carroll get fired this year, but a playoff appearance is cool too.
- Buffalo Bills
This was a toss up between the Bills and Chiefs, but I can’t go against the Super Bowl favorites. The Bills are the best team in the league and the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC will go through Orchard Park, which is terrifying for the rest of the conference.
- Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs look like they haven’t missed Tyreek Hill at all, as they are still an elite offense that can beat any team in the league. The AFC is owned by the Chiefs and Bills, and it will likely be these two teams squaring off in Buffalo to go to the Super Bowl.
- Tennessee Titans
The Titans have played very good football after their 0-2 start. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been horrible, Derrick Henry is back to his old self again, and the defense has been suffocating over their four game win streak. This isn’t the same team as last year, but the Titans are shocking people this year, myself included.
- Cincinnati Bengals
After an 0-2 start, the Bengals have shaken off their rust and are now 4-3. Joe Burrow has 13 touchdowns to one pick since his Week One fiasco, and all three of his receivers have been playing at a high level. Unfortunately, Ja’Marr Chase will be out for at least four weeks, but Tee Higgins is more than capable of taking his role in his absence. The Bengals are looking like their old selves and that’s scary for the AFC.
- Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins arguably have the most explosive offense in the NFL, with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both in the top five in receiving yards. If they were in either the AFC South or North I would likely have them receiving home field advantage in the first round, but they aren’t. They are still one of the scarier teams to face in the league and they’ll give fits to whoever they play in the first round.
- New York Jets
My New York Jets have been a pleasant surprise this year, as they are looking for their first playoff appearance since 2010, but a Week 8 loss to the Patriots brings up major questions about their offense. Can they stay afloat without rookie sensation Breece Hall? Can Zach Wilson do enough to get them to the playoffs? Wilson was horrible that game, and the team’s success depends on how he plays, but I have confidence that he will turn it around, hopefully.
- Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens should be 7-0 right now, but they blew double digit leads to the Dolphins, Bills, and Giants. Lamar Jackson has games where he looks like the MVP and games where he looks like he doesn’t deserve that massive contract he desires. The defense (the secondary in particular) is Swiss cheese and they have been the reason they lost games. It should get better with the addition of Roquan Smith, and as long as they don’t tick off Lamar Jackson, they should be fine.
Image courtesy of Bay News 9
Good job Ben!