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Ranking Super Bowl 56 contenders: Cowboys better NFC bet than Cardinals; Bills or Ravens in AFC?

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Six NFL teams have records of 5-1 or better coming out of Week 6, with that group likely to expand to seven going into Week 7 after Monday night. With a third of the 2021 regular season finished, who in that group are the best bets to get to Super Bowl 56?

The NFC is top-heavy as expected. The reigning Super Bowl 55 champion Buccaneers (5-1) are looking good in the mix, but they have plenty of strong competition for the conference crown. The Cardinals (6-0) and Rams (5-1) have both been better overall early, while the Packers (5-1) and Cowboys (5-1) are both riding five-game winning streaks.

In the AFC, two teams have stood out from the rest, the Ravens (5-1) and the Bills (4-1). With the Chiefs (3-3) stuck in last place in the AFC West, the No. 1 seed is on track to change hands and create new conference favorites.

Related to all that, let’s take stock in the NFL’s top contenders through six games compared to their updated odds to win the Super Bowl on DraftKings Sportsbook:

NFL POWER RANKINGS:
Raiders, Steelers rise again; Browns, Bears, Seahawks slide for Week 7

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1. Buffalo Bills (+450)

The Bills have played like the most complete team in the NFL. They have added a respectable traditional running game to an even more dangerous downfield passing game with Josh Allen that’s using more weapons. Their defense has been dominant against the run and has few weaknesses in pass coverage behind a a deeper inside-outside pass rush.

Everything about them profiles as Super Bowl winners. They are worthy of the highly favorable odds vs. the field. After a Week 7 bye, they should cruise to a monster finishing record given their easy schedule. There’s only one more game they could have any business losing, and that’s at the NFC’s Buccaneers in Week 14.

MORE: How Bills got better than Chiefs, from Josh Allen to a deeper defense

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600)

The Buccaneers tripped up against the Rams. They have seemed more vulnerable overall given all their pass defense injuries. But they also have Tom Brady delivering arguably the best quarterback play of his career and have learned to play more complementary offense with Leonard Fournette starting to dominate in the running game.

Just like last year’s team, they are working to fight through some early challenges, only with a much better record and a surefire path to winning the NFC South. Like the Bills, they have a cakewalk beyond running away with the division, until they host the Bills in Week 14 in what feels like a Super Bowl preview — much like the Week 12 home game vs. the Chiefs was in 2020.

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3. Dallas Cowboys (+1400)

The Cowboys’ only loss was to the Buccaneers on a last-second field goal in Week 1. They have won and covered in every game since, rolling through the Chargers, Eagles, Panthers, Giants and Patriots with superior offense led again by Dak Prescott and a closing defense led by Trevon Diggs. This Mike McCarthy-Kellen Moore-Dan Quinn version is a stark contrast to the best teams under Jason Garrett. The aggressive attack mode is more in line with ruthless champions. They have proved they can beat anyone in any way, even with the ability to overcome their own big mistakes.

After their Week 7 bye, the Cowboys will be solid favorites in every game, save for the Chiefs’ road trip in Week 11. It will likely come down to them and the Buccaneers for the No. 1 seed, with Week 1 looming as the tiebreaker. The Cowboys get the edge over Cardinals because they host them in Week 17 and have been a smashing home team in Dallas.

MORE: How Cowboys, Dak Prescott came from behind twice to beat Patriots

4. Arizona Cardinals (+1100)

The Cardinals have a perfect record but they have their share of flaws, led by run defense. Their offense also can go from super explosive to mysteriously limited. Kyler Murray is playing at an MVP level to match Allen, Brady and Prescott. J.J. Watt has sparked the defense to play up to its playmaking potential. 

Despite their start, their NFC West lead is the slimmest, tied to beating the Rams in Los Angeles in Week 4. The Cardinals host the Packers in Week 8, They might get the Seahawks in Seattle with Russell Wilson back in Week 11, with the rematch set for Week 18. They play the Rams again at home in Week 14 before that Dallas trip in Week 17.

The Cardinals are in unfamiliar hunted position as a young team, so it will be interesting to see how they respond after fading from wild-card contention late last season.

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5. Green Bay Packers (+1200)

The Packers are looking good to run away with the NFC North again but they have a brutal schedule ahead. It starts with trips to Arizona and Kansas City back-to-back in Weeks 8 and 9. Then they might see the Seahawks with Wilson at home in Week 10. They also host the Rams in Week 12 and have the Ravens and Browns back-to-back in Weeks 15 and 16.

That said, their offense is playing very well with Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones in perfect harmony and the defense is overachieving to make clutch plays despite injuries. They are bound to regress from 13-3, but they might be more dangerous as even 11-6 division winners. A motivated and semi-possessed Rodgers is a scary thought to the field when it comes to possibly outplaying Brady, Prescott and Murray in the playoffs.

MORE: Packers’ Aaron Rodgers explains instant-classic ‘I own you’ TD celebration

6. Los Angeles Rams (+800)

Why are the Rams so low? Yes, they are living up to the hype for Sean McVay’s offense with Matthew Stafford. Yes, their defense still has a plenty of impact players around Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.

But it’s hard to trust them to make the run back to Los Angeles for Super Bowl 56 with a stacked NFC field. Stafford should be the least trusted of all the playoff-bound NFC quarterbacks. There already was some of that big-game disappointment against the Cardinals. The return on this investment with such favorable odds isn’t great, either, as the Rams might need to do this as a top wild card on the road again.

The closing schedule after a Week 12 bye is tough, with trips to Green Bay, Arizona, Minnesota and Baltimore. Don’t sleep on either Seattle or San Francisco from biting them once, either.

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7. Kansas City Chiefs (+700)

The Chiefs are still behind the Chargers (4-2) in the division. Everyone expects them to finish ahead of AFC’s Los Angeles in the standings in the end, but it’s not a given. Playing at the Titans is tricky again in Week 7, and the Packers, Cowboys, Chargers and Bengals all still loom on the schedule.

The biggest problem is having lost to the Ravens and Bills already. That means the Chiefs, on top of taking care of their own business, need a lot of help to break their way given the multiple-game and head-to-head tiebreaker deficits. As high as a No. 2 seed or as low as a top wild card at No. 5, a path away from Arrowhead Stadium doesn’t inspire confidence (for now) for a third consecutive Super Bowl trip.

MORE: What is wrong with the Chiefs’ defense?

8. Baltimore Ravens (+1000)

The Ravens, since losing to the Raiders in overtime in Week 1 in a game they probably should have won, have done whatever needed to win with Lamar Jackson offensively to win games while their defense has been a roller-coaster. Their resume isn’t bad, with strong home wins over the Chiefs and Chargers.

That said, they have yet to play any of their division games in a tough AFC North, which will make up more than half of their remaining schedule with two each vs. the Bengals, Browns and Steelers starting in Week 7. They also need to host the Packers and Rams outside of the conference at home in Weeks 15 and 17.

Baltimore is looking like the best best to win the North, but the Bengals are only a game behind and the Steelers and Browns have potential to surge up from .500. The Ravens have more pitfalls that can keep them from staying right on the level of the Bills.



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