The elite class in the NFL after the halfway mark consists of the Chiefs, Rams, Patriots and Saints.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if they’re the final four teams standing during conference championship week.
The best of the best have played one another this season, and the games haven’t disappointed. The Saints survived a late rally by the Rams last week, and the Patriots outscored the Chiefs in a shootout in Week 6.
The Rams and Chiefs meet Nov. 19 on “Monday Night Football” in a showdown in Mexico City.
But these teams aren’t perfect. They have glaring weaknesses, ones that could haunt them in January.
Here’s a look at what might hinder their Super Bowl hopes:
The Chiefs’ defense hasn’t been as bad as many predicted, but it could be a problem in the postseason if they have to face Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger.
Kansas City has given up the most yards (3,847) in the league and is ranked last in passing yards allowed (2,724), an average of 302.7.
The Chiefs are allowing 25.1 points per game. That’s not an issue because their offense is scoring a league-high 36.3 points per game.
With teams falling behind, the Chiefs have had more opportunities to rush quarterbacks. The defense has recorded 26 sacks, the fifth most in the league.
The bend-but-don’t-break approach is working, but it might not in January.
The Rams gave up a lot to add Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib in the offseason. But the cornerback position might be the weak link on a loaded Rams roster.
Talib hasn’t played since Week 3 because of an ankle injury. That has put a lot of pressure on Peters, who has been burned often in the past few weeks.
Peters is coming off a dismal performance against the Saints last week, giving up a 72-yard touchdown to Michael Thomas that put the game away. Saints coach Sean Payton said after the game he made it a point to attack Peters, and the comments didn’t sit well with Peters.
Maybe Peters does better if the Rams and Saints meet again in the playoffs. He hasn’t been the same since injuring his calf in Week 3. He hasn’t missed a game but probably was rushed back.
If Talib and Peters get healthy in the next two months, the Rams will be a tough out.
It comes down to health for the Patriots. They need tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Sony Michel to be at 100 percent.
Both players are questionable to play against the Titans on Sunday. Gronkowski has battled multiple injuries and hasn’t been his dominant self this season.
Brady has gotten by with passing the ball to Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson, but that won’t cut it against the explosive offenses of the Chiefs and Steelers.
The Patriots need Julian Edelman to return to game shape and Josh Gordon to master the playbook to contend for another Super Bowl title.
There’s a reason the Saints signed Dez Bryant this past week. It might not look like it, but the team is short-handed at wide receiver.
But Bryant tore his Achilles tendon two days after joining the team and is out for the season.
The Saints have gotten by with Thomas crushing cornerbacks, but what happens if he has a bad outing in the playoffs? They have the crafty Alvin Kamara to help out of the backfield, and Mark Ingram can carry the running duties.
But it’s never a good idea to be thin on the depth chart. Injuries happen often, and the Saints would be smart to add another wide receiver.