Sorting out NFL contenders and pretenders: Playoff picture entering Week 7 includes legit teams and frauds

We are one-third of the way through the 2023 NFL season. Can you believe it? Through six weeks, we’ve seen surprises, disappointments, upsets and dominant performances. It’s still relatively early, but who do you believe has the wherewithal to go all the way? And which teams will fade as the year goes on?

Below, we will sort out the contenders and pretenders in the NFL through six weeks among teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, complete with Pete Prisco’s Week 7 Power Rankings as a guide. Let’s start with the best teams in the league. 


Kansas City Chiefs (5-1, 1st in AFC West)

Prisco’s Week 7 power ranking: 1

The reigning Super Bowl champions are obviously contenders. Now, Patrick Mahomes has not had the best start to the season, but the defense has been pretty impressive. Go back to last Thursday night and look at how Steve Spagnuolo shut down the Denver Broncos’ passing attack. No, the Broncos aren’t an offensive juggernaut, but K.C.’s cornerbacks dominated.

The Chiefs should be buyers at the trade deadline in my opinion, as that passing attack is Travis Kelce vs. the world, but Kansas City is a legitimate contender. 

San Francisco 49ers (5-1, 1st in NFC West)

Prisco’s Week 7 power ranking: 4

San Francisco finally dropped its first regular-season game since Oct. 23 last year. It was about time that happened, but who knew that loss would come to P.J. Walker? Maybe that’s not fair, since it was the Cleveland Browns defense that really stood out. 

Brock Purdy came back to earth a bit with just 125 passing yards. Maybe he’s not Tom Brady, but he may be the best quarterback San Francisco has had in quite some time. Purdy has plenty of weapons to utilize such as Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, and the backing of a top three defense. Week 6 showed they aren’t unbeatable, but the 49ers are contenders. 


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