Pretender or Contender NFL Edition

As the NFL playoffs draw near, Kellen Ruch explores who is a playoff contender and who is just a pretender.


photo courtesy of: Sports Illustrated.

Graphic of star NFL players photo courtesy of: Sports Illustrated.

Kellen Ruch, Reporter


Ravens- The Ravens are contenders. They have had some tone-setting victories against the Chiefs and the Chargers. I’m sure many readers will agree that even though the Dolphins humiliated the Ravens, they have a good chance at making the Superbowl. The Dolphins ran heavy pressure sets, as around 60% of their snaps came from a pre-snap over zero look. This embarrassed the Ravens, until the end of the game. As long as Lamar leads the offense and the defense stays strong, they will be a tough team to beat. 

Bills- I believe that the Bills are still contenders. Even though they are behind Mac Jones’ Patriots, they are still an amazing team. Josh Allen continues to get better and become a dangerous threat, and he has already beat the Cheifs, the team who defeated them in the 2021 AFC championship.

Bengals- Ok these guys are officially the biggest pretenders in the AFC. After beating the Ravens, the Bengals thought they could have an easy week against the Jets. However, Mike White & Co. stunned them with a three point victory. To top it off a devastating 41-16 loss against the Browns shows they are not ready for prime time. 

Dolphins- Despite their 3 game winning streak these guys are still pretenders. For one reason they’re always the team that is believed to be a potential playoff team but never seem to get there. To pile on, they gave the Jaguars their very first win in 23 games! Finally, they got obliterated by the Bills and Bucs. This team always underperforms.



Rams- Even after 2 terrible losses I still believe the Rams are super bowl contenders. Their defense is star-studded with Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Jalen Ramsey as their key players. To top it off Stafford escaped the prison of Detroit and has elevated this Rams offense to new heights. This offense has been as dominant since the greatest show on turf (2001). I guess no more Thanksgiving games for this man.

Cowboys- Can you believe a contender from the NFC East? The Cowboys already have more wins than they did last year. Dak Prescott has improved ever since the Hard Knocks for the Cowboys was released. Even though the Cowboys have only won against one division leader. The Patriots, they have kept up with playoff teams in almost every game against them.

Seahawks- These guys are 100% pretenders. Every year people believe that Russel Wilson will win MVP, but he never seems to deliver on his promise. Russel Wilson and the Seahawks fail to deliver once again.

Panthers- I used to think the Panthers had a shot at the playoffs, but now I believe they are pretenders. Readers might recall the Panthers beating the Cardinals and going on a 3 game winning streak at the beginning of the season, but they lost 4 games in a row, including games against the Giants and Eagles (2 bad teams). I believe Cam Newton’s return is a positive impact, but will it be enough to get them into the playoffs? In my opinion, they don’t have a shot.

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