The AFC playoff picture is absolute chaos right now. Which contender is actually the favorite to reach the Super Bowl?
The end of October usually means that there are some established superpowers in the NFL. While the NFC has lived up to its end of the bargain by producing some absolute juggernauts, the AFC has devolved into a muddled mess with a bunch of above-average teams failing to separate themselves from the pack.
How do you separate the wheat from the chaff among the conference’s top seven contenders? Let’s make an educated guess on power ranking the AFC’s Super Bowl contenders.
AFC Contender Power Rankings
1. Tennessee Titans
The Titans hung on in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts today to secure a season sweep of their closest competition in the AFC South. Wins over Buffalo and Kansas City are legitimate and Derrick Henry is an unstoppable force in the running game, making Tennessee a tough out in the postseason.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are on bye in Week 8 after a concerning loss to the Cincinnati Bengals but their defense is still a legitimate force. Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP level this season but will need to prove he can make the big throws in the postseason to push Baltimore to the Super Bowl.
3. Buffalo Bills
It wasn’t pretty for the Bills in Week 8 but Josh Allen and company got the job done with a 26-11 win over the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo’s win in Kansas City has been their signature performance and more consistent efforts could push them to the top of the heap in the coming weeks.
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert is playing incredible football for Los Angeles this season but their win over Kansas City was a sign that they have staying power. The Chargers are coming off a disastrous loss in Baltimore, however, that makes you question whether they belong in the upper reaches of the AFC just yet.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Having the best player on the planet is a great start but Patrick Mahomes’ sudden turnover problems combined with a very leaky defense have pushed the Chiefs out of automatic favorite status. Kansas City has also lost to the four teams above them on this list, meaning they have work to do to showcase they can compete for their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
6. Las Vegas Raiders
The AFC West-leading Raiders are on bye this week after a strong 5-2 start that includes a comeback win over Baltimore in Week 1 that is a bullet point on their resume. Las Vegas’ other four wins haven’t come against elite competition, however, which means they have to show that they can beat more top-notch teams to feel confident about the Raiders’ chances of postseason success.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals entered the day as the AFC’s top seed and then found a way to lose on the road to the New York Jets, allowing backup quarterback Mike White to shred their defense for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. A win over the Ravens in Baltimore showed that Cincinnati is a contender but a performance like the one they put up in MetLife Stadium today shows that the Bengals still have a long way to go to compete with the elite teams in the AFC.