This is roughly the time of the NFL season in which the haves begin to separate themselves from the have-nots. Sunday Night Football’s matchup this week features two 7-1 teams in the Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears. Both were popular preseason playoff picks and have relatively cruised to this point. As the NFC’s number two team and the AFC’s top team, will this be the only time we see these two teams play this season?
Baring catastrophic collapses and/or injuries, it appears the Texans and Bears are both headed for the playoffs. If you make the playoffs, you obviously have a shot at reaching the Super Bowl, regardless of seeding. As of now, it appears each could host at least one playoff game, and in the Texans’ case, perhaps two. There’s no question the Texans and Bears are currently among the league’s top five teams, but remaining near the top is going to get tougher as opposing teams are going to give their best games in hopes of knocking off either team.
If you asked me today to rearrange my preseason predictions, I would absolutely pick the Texans and Bears to represent their respective conferences in the big game. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons are 8-0, but on nothing more than a simple eye test, the Bears are a better, more complete team right now. To me, the question of whether Sunday night’s game is a Super Bowl preview has more to do with the Bears’ ability to reach the big dance than the Texans. That’s not to say I’m definitively saying the Texans are a better team (we’ll find out soon), it has more to do with competition and road to the Super Bowl. The NFC has proved it’s far superior to the AFC in terms of overall talent and depth of that talent. At 7-1, the Bears are only the conferences’ second best team and if they should lose to the Texans Sunday, there are three six-win teams that could jump them in the standings. If the Texans were to lose, they would fall into a tie with the Baltimore Ravens and remain at least a game up on everybody else.
The Bears also face the brutal NFC tournament, which in recent history shows that #1 seeds are as likely to make the Super Bowl as #6 seeds. Through the first half of the season, it appears that even a #6 seed in the NFC could be a top 2-3 team in the AFC. The AFC simply isn’t as strong, thus the Texans have an easier road.
As of right now, these are two of the top 5 teams and in my opinion, they are the two best teams in the NFL. Will it last the remainder of the season? I think so, but it’s difficult to know for sure. Can they both run through their conference playoff brackets? Yes, they can. Come February, will they both meet in the Super Bowl? The odds are stacked against it, but not off the table.
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