Week 10 in the NFL told us a lot. It told us that the Patriots are still mortal, Byron Leftwich may be a pretty good offensive coordinator for the Cardinals but the Chiefs are still better (obviously) and the Saints are utterly stacked. Oh, and Philip Rivers should be in any and all MVP conversations.
This week, the Saints saw their simulation odds to win the Super Bowl rise by five percent to put them at first in the NFL. The Patriots dropped to third behind the Saints and Rams, but the Chiefs are coming for them fast. A win Monday night against the high-powered Rams could put them over the top, and a win for the Rams could do the same.
While the Saints and Rams established their foothold in the NFC, the AFC saw some fun middle-of-the-pack shakeups. The Titans saw their stock rise a bit, while the Bengals fell after their blowout loss. According to simulations, it's a four-team race with the Chargers and Steelers making headway.
A quick note: These are listed in order of Super Bowl simulation percentages, per SportsLine.
Super Bowl LIII odds
|New Orleans Saints||11/4||20.98%||38.84%||95.1%||99%|
|Los Angeles Rams||11/4||17.47%||35.27%||98%||99%|
|New England Patriots||8/1||17.21%||31.26%||98%||99%|
|Kansas City Chiefs||9/2||16.58%||30.65%||81.3%||99%|
|Los Angeles Chargers||12/1||7.22%||14.26%||18.8%||98.5%|
|Green Bay Packers||25/1||0.71%||1.98%||12.9%||35.1%|
|New York Jets||2,000/1||0.01%||0.01%||0.1%||0.2%|
|San Francisco 49ers||10,000/1||0.01%||0.01%||0.1%||0.1%|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1,000/1||0.00%||0.04%||0.1%||1.1%|
|New York Giants||2,000/1||0%||0%||0.1%||0.1%|
There's a new favorite in town, with the Patriots falling to the Titans and the Rams and Chiefs struggling at times last week. The Saints have moved into the top spot, reaching nearly 21 percent in SportsLine's simulation after an utter rout of the Bengals. It's easy to see why. Coming off a win against the undefeated Rams, there was a lot of "trap game" talk for a cold-weather game in Cincinnati, but the Saints didn't fall into it, winning 51-14.
Drew Brees is absolutely carving up defenses, completing passes at a historic rate (surprise surprise). He passed Brett Favre for second all time in touchdown passes on Sunday, and Michael Thomas is among the most dominant receivers in the NFL.
The Saints looks outrageously difficult to beat right now, but they can be beat. The past two weeks, teams have fallen into holes against them, and it's snowballed. The Rams nearly came back, but the Bengals weren't equipped to do so. With that being said, you can't argue with an eight-game win streak, and the Saints are the hottest team in football.
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The other contenders
If it were up to the SportsLine models, we could probably play the conference championship games on Sunday. The Saints, Rams, Patriots and Chiefs look miles ahead of the competition, but in reality, it's closer than it seems. If the Chiefs slip up, they could end up losing the division to the Chargers, the Panthers still have a solid chance at the NFC South and the Steelers are looming in the AFC.
The Rams pulled out another close-game win against the Seahawks, while the Chiefs stumbled at times against the Cardinals. The Patriots, meanwhile, fell on their face against a motivated Titans team, and there's now some concern about Tom Brady's age, which means he'll throw for 500 yards this week. There are cracks in the armor of all of the top teams, and as these races unfold, we'll see the haves and have nots.
Which teams should you back in Week 11 of the NFL season? And which Super Bowl contender gets a huge scare? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has outperformed 98 percent of experts tracked by NFLPickWatch.com the past two seasons.
Still in the mix
The Panthers, Steelers and Chargers are the most dangerous teams outside of the top four. The Chargers got off to a lackluster start against the Raiders, but Philip Rivers is continuing a career year at 36 years old. He should be getting MVP consideration alongside Patrick Mahomes and Brees, and Melvin Gordon is overshadowed by that other running back in Los Angeles. There's a lot to like in L.A., and it's not all Rams.
Even without Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers look like they're in great shape, and they're on one of the most impressive winning streaks in the NFL right now. The NFC South is far from out of the Panthers' reach. They still have two games against the leading Saints, and Cam Newton has still played at an outstanding level this year. 6-3 isn't a death knell by any means, but they'll need to take care of the Lions on Sunday if they want to keep pace in a competitive NFC.
The long shots
Outside of the top seven, there are plenty of teams fighting some very interesting division battles. For starters, the NFC North has a three-team race. The Bears have Khalil Mack back, and Chicago looked incredibly impressive in its win over the Lions. The Vikings are coming off a bye after winning four of five games. They play the Bears in a huge showdown on Sunday.
The AFC South is similarly interesting. The Titans are catching fire off a huge win against the Patriots, and the Texans are still just winning games. (They've now won six straight.) The Colts are also creeping their way into the AFC South race, with elite offensive-line play helping them along the way. There's a lot to like out of that unit, but the Texans need to stumble if the Titans or Colts are to catch up.
In the NFC East, the Cowboys raised their stock with a primetime win over the Eagles, but the Redskins are still the team to catch. There's been a lot of ugly football coming out of the East, but as we saw last year, all a team has to do is get hot at the right time. The Redskins will play the Texans Sunday, while the Eagles travel to New Orleans to play the Saints.
The Bengals took a big hit with Sunday's loss, and the Ravens are coming off a much-needed bye. Both teams looked like they would challenge for the AFC North early on, but it looks like it's the Steelers' division to lose once again. The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in the wake of their loss -- their second coordinator firing this year.
The Falcons took a massive blow with a loss to the Browns. With the Saints and Panthers playing as they are, the Falcons may only be able to hope for a wild card berth.