The teams storming through the opening rounds of the NFL

The NFL season 2022 is now several weeks in. That means it is still early days, but enough games have been played for some patterns to start to emerge.

In other words, we can see some glimmers of which teams are likely to compete in the play-offs this year and which will see their seasons end with the New Year. There are teams that pundits already have pegged as near-certainties for the post-season, based on their early season form and results.

So which teams are the ones that are setting the league on fire right now?

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are riding pretty high in the AFC East and a glance at the NFL lines will tell you that they are also the current bookies’ hot favorites for the Super Bowl. It is certainly difficult to envisage a situation where they don’t qualify for the play-offs, but their performances have not been entirely without flaws this season.

Josh Allen has been a star performer at quarterback, but he hasn’t had enough offensive support from the running backs so far. Allen is already being named as a potential MVP based on his showing up to now, but the Bills’ need James Cook and their other running backs to rush more, because an injury to Allen at the moment could really blunt their offense.

Philadelphia Eagles

Lots of pundits were speculating about whether the Eagles could return to championship contention after a mixed few seasons since they overcame the ‘Lombardi curse’ in 2017. Most agreed that for that to happen, quarterback Jalen Hurts had to deliver consistently in the way that Carson Wentz had before him.

Well so far the Eagles are soaring this season, sitting top of the NFC Conference and the NFC East division, and the only undefeated team left in the league. Hurts has been one of their standout players, with a particular improvement in his passing play compared with previous seasons, which is taking him closer to being an all-round performer at quarterback.

One slight worry is the offensive injuries they are picking up, including Jason Kelce at center and tackle Jordan Mailata. They don’t look like season-enders just now, but with potent offense central to the Eagles’ success so far, they need to keep these players fit.

Kansas City Chiefs

So far in 2022, it could be said to have been a decent start for the Chiefs and they are sitting on top of the AFC West, but a potential barrier to success could be their red zone defensive play. On average, the Chiefs have been conceding touchdowns from 80% of opposition forays into the red zone.

That is the poorest record in the league and proved costly in the defeats to the Indianapolis Colts and the Bills in their most recent game. Despite strong play from linebackers Willie Gay and Nick Bolton, they need overall defensive improvement if their start to the season is going to be sustained.

They are third favorites with bookies right now, but a questionable bet for the Super Bowl at the moment.

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings have made a genuinely storming start to the 2022 season, but not many pundits are expecting that to last. So why is there so much skepticism?

Well for one thing, that record has depended on a lot of late-in-the-game rallies. The last three matches have seen the Vikings battle to turn the game around in the fourth quarter, and many doubt whether that is something they can continue to do.

One of the main reasons that they have succeeded against the odds so far is the exceptional play of quarterback Kirk Cousins. That culminated in a record-breaking 17 completions during the 29-22 win over the Chicago Bears in early October.

LA Rams

The Rams are hovering around the mid-point in the bookmakers’ rankings, but they have made an efficient start in the NFC West. Their record so far is solid, but with the team above them – the San Francisco 49ers – facing an injury crisis, they could be a good bet for at least a post-season placing.

Running back Darrell Henderson Jr is having a good season so far (and covering for the poor form of Cam Akers) while veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford is still a key Rams player after a decade and a half in the NFL.

The problem for the Rams is in offense. Their defeats have tellingly come versus serious Super Bowl contenders the Cowboys, the 49ers and the Bills and have included 19 sacks.

They must get a lot better offensively if they are to maintain their form.

These are the sides that have impressed in the early NFL stages but there is a long way still to go.

Huynh Nguyen

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