Just three weeks separate the NFL regular season from the playoffs. Teams are being eliminated from playoff contention every week, while others are slowly emerging as the best in the league. These are those Super Bowl contenders.

4. Oakland Raiders

One of the best stories in the NFL has been the Oakland Raiders. One of three teams threatening to leave their current city for greener pastures, they chose to stick in the Bay Area for at least a couple of more seasons. They are rewarding fans' loyalty with a season for the ages, where quarterback Derek Carr has become an MVP. The Raiders will be tasting the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Takeaways have assisted the emergence of the Chiefs this season. They are the best in the NFL in recording defensive turnovers and teams generally don't take the ball from them, at least not nearly at the same rate. Tight end Travis Kelce is on a historic tear, while wide receiver and kick returner Tyreek Hill has recorded touchdowns in ways that nobody since Gale Sayers has.

2. Dallas Cowboys

Nobody could've predicted the Cowboys would be one of the best teams in the NFL at the beginning of the year, especially after losing Tony Romo to yet another injury. Instead, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot have thrived behind one of the game's most elite offensive lines.

Nobody in the NFC is within two games of the Cowboys in the standings, so they'll probably have home field advantage in the playoffs.

1. New England Patriots

Every year, NFL fans are forced to reconcile the fact that the Patriots are always one of the best teams in the league. They didn't have Tom Brady for the first four games of the year, yet still went 3-1 in his absence and have only lost once in his return, which has generated MVP buzz.

They no longer have star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is out for the year with a back injury, but they just signed wide receiver Michael Floyd, who has strong potential but was just dropped by the Arizona Cardinals because of an ugly DUI.

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