Soaring past their opponents: Cardinals and Ravens separate themselves throughout six games


(Courtesy of Associated Press Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray celebrates a touchdown that he scored against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of the game on Sunday, September 19.

     Believe it or not, the NFL is just about a third of the way through the season. There have been highs, lows, surprises, and disappointments. 

     Many think that the NFC is loaded, and the AFC is a confusing mess. Although the season is still young, there is an idea of where certain teams belong.

     Here are three categories of teams based on the first six games.

     Group 1: Super Bowl Contenders

     Not just anybody belongs in this tier. These are the teams that have separated themselves so far throughout this season and could be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when it is all said and done.

     Arizona Cardinals (6-0): The biggest surprise of the season does not seem to be slowing down. They ran laps around the Browns, crushing them with a final score of 37-14. They also dominated their NFC West, rival the Los Angeles Rams, and proved that defense could carry the offense when it’s not clicking against the 49ers.                                                             

     Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-1): Although they haven’t looked like the defending Super Bowl champs at times, they are here for one reason, which is that they have Tom Brady. After getting his revenge in Foxborough (the New England Patriots stadium), he proved he can win ugly games, and that’s what the good teams do.

     Baltimore Ravens (5-1): The biggest knock on the Ravens going into week 6 was they were too reliant on Lamar Jackson to win games. They soon proved those who believed that statement wrong. They absolutely pummeled the Chargers at home field, beating them with an end score of 34-6. They held Justin Herbert to a season-low of 195 passing yards, and the Chargers couldn’t get anything going offensively. Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP level, and his defense is finally giving him some help.

     Group 2: Teams that still have to prove it

     These are the teams that could be Super Bowl Contenders but aren’t quite there yet, due to injuries or if they haven’t played many good teams yet.

     Green Bay Packers (5-1): Green Bay knocked off the Chicago Bears on the road 24-14 to take control of the NFC North, as their quarterback Aaron Rodgers screamed to the fans, “I still own you,” after running for the game-sealing touchdown. With their best cornerback, best linebacker, and two best O-linemen out, the Packers will take a 5-1 record any way they can. They are one more quality win and a few healthy players away from being a Super Bowl contender.

     Los Angeles Rams (5-1): Matthew Stafford had been struggling the past two games throwing one interception in each before this, but had a field day in week 6, running all over the banged-up New York Giants and throwing for four touchdowns and over 200 yards. However, he has thrown an interception in the past three games and will need to clean that up before next week.

     Dallas Cowboys (5-1): As much as many hate to say it, the Cowboys are back. Trevon Diggs is a flat-out cheat code, and their offense is nearly unstoppable with the three-headed monster of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, and Ceedee Lamb. Like the Packers, they are one more quality win away from being contenders.

     Buffalo Bills (4-2): The Bills looked like the best team in the NFL, until Monday Night. After beating the Chiefs on the road a few weeks ago, this team looked unstoppable. However, their defense went from forcing 4 turnovers against the Chiefs to allowing 34 points to the Tennessee Titans, which is why they now have to prove they are contenders again.

     Group 3: Disappointments

     These are the teams that had high expectations going into the season but have been let-downs so far.

     Seattle Seahawks (2-4): The Seahawks are in arguably the toughest division in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they should be under 0.500. They should have easily beat the Minnesota Vikings and blew a 14 point fourth-quarter lead to the Tennessee Titans at home. Russel Wilson’s injury is tough, and many are not trusting Geno Smith to win games any time soon. If Smith can’t play every game like he did those two drives on his Thursday Night Football debut, this could be it for Seattle.

     Kansas City Chiefs (3-3): The Chiefs went from being the Super Bowl favorite to last in their division. Their defense can’t get off the field to save their life, and Patrick Mahomes has just looked off so far. They have to figure things out on defense and address their turnover situation if they want to have a chance at playing football in late January

     Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3): One year of Ben Rothlisberger, otherwise known as Big Ben, is the difference between 6-0 and 3-3 to start the season. Last year, many were talking about the Steelers being in the Super Bowl. This year, we’re talking about Big Ben’s replacement. Although he did have a few good throws when placed against the Seattle Seahawks, the offense is sad to watch at times.

     If I had to predict the Super Bowl right now, going into week 7, I would have to go with the Baltimore Ravens coming out of the AFC. Not many teams in that conference look consistent enough besides the Buffalo Bills, and I don’t see anyone beating this team right now. 

     For the NFC, I’m going to go with the Arizona Cardinals. I believe in this team and think these first six games are not a fluke, and they are legit competitors. 

     I am really looking forward to week seven, as I think we are getting to the time where the good and the bad teams will separate themselves.