Usually in the NFL we know who the elite teams are, but sometimes we have a hard time defining exactly what that means. Do elite teams have shutdown defenses, high-octane offense and great kickers on special teams? Well, as we’ve seen this year, there’s no one qualification.
The Denver Broncos, for example, are the hottest team in football. Peyton Manning is putting up touchdowns in historic fashion, and the team’s offense is nearly unstoppable. On defense, the Broncos aren’t exactly shutting opponents down, but they’re doing more than enough to get the job done.
The New Orleans Saints, in a similar way, are hanging huge scores on opponents while keeping the opposing team’s offense on the run.
Other teams function differently at the elite level. The Patriots, for instance, are riding on Tom Brady’s arm. Their offense isn’t particularly diverse, and their defense isn’t actually a great unit, but Tom Brady is keeping them ahead of much of the league.
The Seahawks and Chiefs are both winning with great defense and efficient offensive production. Kansas City in particular is winning on both sides of the ball, and that level of play is netting a number of very convincing wins for the Chiefs.
At the end of the day, there’s no one characteristic that can nailed down as something exhibited by all elite teams. All of them play great offense, but while some just hang huge totals on their opponents, others are masters of efficiency.
There really is no formula for judging what an elite team is and what is not. It’s one of those things that we know when we see it.