With the 2020 NFL season reaching its halfway point, playoff positions are still very much undecided.
Pittsburgh Steelers are leading the way in the AFC with a record of seven wins and zero losses. Currently four teams are vying for the elusive seventh spot in the conference: the final playoff spot. Those teams include the Cleveland Browns, the Las Vegas Raiders, the Miami Dolphins and the Denver Broncos, all clinging to the possibility of sealing a trip to the postseason.
Although the Pittsburgh Steelers sit alone atop the AFC standings, there has been much debate regarding who really is the best team and who has the best chance of reaching the Super Bowl.
Dalton Dubois, ’22, describes himself as a huge fan of the NFL.
“I would have to say the Chiefs are the best team at the moment,” Dubois said. “Their defense isn’t the best but they clearly have the most dynamic offense in the AFC and adding Le’Veon Bell only strengthens their attack.”
Bell, who is a former two-time All-Pro running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, recently joined the Kansas City Chiefs following his release from the New York Jets.
“Patrick Mahomes has so many weapons like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman that just pose threats based off of pure speed,” Dubois said. “A solid offensive line and a mobile quarterback that has been gunslinging since his college days is dangerous to have in the NFL’s current environment, given that it is incredibly pass and matchup heavy.”
Whether the Kansas City Chiefs will catch the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top spot in the AFC by the end of the season remains to be seen, but there are certainly many other teams that will challenge the best in the league as the season progresses. Dubois acknowledged the influx of young starting quarterbacks around the league and the unpredictability of the league being as high as ever.
“I would say that I knew Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals would be really good going in, but I honestly don’t think Burrow is getting enough credit right now,” Dubois said. “He has been getting crushed nearly every play and the Bengals are just overall a bad team, yet he still tries to compete and has been putting up pretty crazy numbers given the circumstances he was handed, being the No. 1 overall draft pick.”
Other rookie quarterbacks who have been handed starts this season include the fifth overall draft pick of the Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa, and former University of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Dinucci.
According to ESPN.com, the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints or Buffalo Bills could own the best record in the NFL by the end of the season. Although all of these teams maintain winning records at this moment in time, a number of teams have outperformed their preseason rankings.
NFL fan Nolan Thompson, ’22, has one team in mind that he believes has exceeded all of the expectations put on them before the season.
“For me the biggest surprise has definitely been the Pittsburgh Steelers, and to be 7-0 right now is way more than I would expect,” Thompson said. “I knew the defense would be one of the best in the league, but the Steelers offense right now is sneaky good and has so many solid, viable options to play with.”
Although the Steelers lost their running back in Le’Veon Bell back in 2018, and also their eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver in Antonio Brown last year, they have been able to replace these players with a number of younger players that Thompson believes can continue to make a big difference.
“If you don’t cover Chase Claypool, Juju Smith-Schuster can damage you slowly,” Thompson said. “Diontae Johnson and James Washington can do the same if Juju or Claypool draw attention. With drama out of the locker room and pure heart and soul on the field, the Steelers very well could go undefeated.”
In the eyes of a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Jake Levit, ’22, the Steelers are by and large the best team in the NFL at the moment, the team that the rest are chasing.
“The Steelers are the best team because they have repeatedly shown they can beat the teams that are said to be better than them,” Levit said. “They beat the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson, despite injuries that would usually slow down teams.”
As the NFL enters the second half of the 2020 season, these football fans will continue to follow and enjoy what Levit described as “an incredibly exciting finish” to the year.