Which Teams are Heating Up at the Best Time?
The teams that win the Super Bowl aren't always the most talented, but the teams with the best chemistry and most momentum. The Colts have both chemistry and momentum. The Colts' best players are all selfless leaders who want to see their teammates succeed. Jonathan Taylor has been the best player for the Colts' offense this season. After every win, he makes sure to give credit to his offensive line and the receivers for blocking on the edge. Darius Leonard, Deforest Buckner, and Kenny Moore are the three best players on the Colts' defense. Those three players are notoriously humble and bring out the best in their teammates. Look at Xavier Rhodes as an example; he was struggling heavily in his final years in Minnesota; now he is back having a pro bowl caliber season. There is a positive atmosphere in the Colts' locker room and they had a late bye week. That means all of the players' bodies are well-rested and their minds will be focused on ball. Coming off of a close loss to the Buccaneers, the Colts have proven that they can hang with any team in the NFL. While the Patriots game will be tough, it is a home game and the Colts have had 13 days to prepare for. The Cardinals game will also be close, but if this team can rally together, they can pull off the upset. The Colts have back-to-back major games, but if they can put together a few playoff-caliber wins, they will be a team to fear entering the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers
There is no team in the NFL that is not afraid of the 49ers right now. This team is very untraditional; they can generate pressure with just four-man rushes, run the ball forty times in a game, and get their best players the ball in very different ways. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch deserve a lot of credit; they have built this team in a way that creates mismatches at every level. Offensively, Trent Williams and George Kittle open up a unique run attack for Kyle Shanahan. Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel can penetrate defenses by utilizing cutback lanes and the outside zone. In the passing game, defenses shift their coverage to stop Kittle. That opens up opportunities for Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Jauan Jennings. Shanahan has a very unique, but intentional play-calling style that allows the 49ers to play their game while forcing defenses to change their approach. Defensively, it seems like the 49ers show light-boxes, but their linebackers are able to fill holes very fast. Despite having the highest double-team rate in the NFL, Nick Bosa is still third in the league with 14 sacks. Fred Warner and Azeez Al-Shaiir are one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL, and Demeco Ryans has grown a lot in his first year as a defensive coordinator. There aren't many teams that match up well against the 49ers, especially with Jimmy Garoppolo tossing the rock as efficiently as he has been. The 49ers are a sleeper team to watch in the NFC.
New England Patriots
In any industry, especially the sports industry, it is important to self-scout. Coming out of the draft this year, I was not very high on Mac Jones. After watching Justin Hebert and Josh Allen tear up the NFL in 2020, I thought that the importance for a quarterback who can make any throw possible and make plays with his legs was greater than ever. After watching Jones make his case for offensive rookie of the year, I can safely say that intelligence trumps all of that. It is hard to gain a proper grasp over quarterbacks as someone not in the NFL because it is impossible to understand where they are at mentally. Jones has been able to tear up defenses, even if that means just throwing the ball three times in a game. Outside of Jones, this team is filled with experienced veterans that understand the intensity of playoff games. You could make the case that Jones has a good understanding as well because he has played on the biggest stage in college football. Matthew Judon and JC Jackson are both having all-pro caliber seasons, while Bill Belichick has been in his bag as a coach. No team wants to face the Patriots right now.