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Updated 2013 Super Bowl Odds, Pre-Training Camp Edition

Jon DoveContributor IOctober 21, 2016

Updated 2013 Super Bowl Odds, Pre-Training Camp Edition

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    I really hate the Super Bowl odds that are put out by betting agencies. This 25/1 or 3/1 nonsense makes little sense in my mind. I much prefer to see a breakdown of tiers with a good description of each grouping.

    So, my Super Bowl odds will look different than most. Below are the tiers that I developed to separate the teams.

    The slides are in tier order, and ranked lowest to highest inside each tier. The first slide will be the team least likely to win the Super Bowl.

    Tier 1: These are likely divisional winners and candidates for a first-round bye and No. 1 overall seed. Basically, these are the teams that have a great chance to make a run to the Super Bowl.

    Tier 2: Teams that have a great chance to make the playoffs, but it's a stretch that they earn a first-round bye. These teams have the talent needed to make a run.

    Tier 3: This is basically the New York Giants of last season: a team that barely makes the playoffs but is talented enough to make a run to the Super Bowl.

    Tier 4: The Atlanta Falcons of the past two seasons. Teams that have a great regular season and will make the playoffs. However, they lack that "it" factor to be a Super Bowl team.

    Tier 5: A .500 team that is among the group of teams that just miss the playoffs.

    Tier 6: A sub-.500 team that has no chance of making a playoff appearance.

    Tier 7: These teams are in the running to land the top overall pick in the 2013 draft

Minnesota Vikings

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 7 (see title slide for breakdown of each tier)

    The Minnesota Vikings continue to say that they're not in a full rebuilding mode, but they could've fooled me.

    Honestly, they would be better off moving some of their aging veterans and picking up more assets. A team with a young quarterback, limited weapons at wide receiver and an aging defensive line isn't primed to contend.

    Christian Ponder showed some promise last season, but he still needs time to develop. The lack of offensive weapons will hinder his progress and ensure the Vikings struggle to pick up victories. It also doesn't help that Adrian Peterson could miss a few games during the early part of the season.

    The defense still has Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, but outside of those two it's a group of unproven players.

    Playing in the NFC North also doesn't help Minnesota's chances of having a successful season. They have to play the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears a total of six times and will struggle to win any of those six contests.

Cleveland Browns

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 7

    The Cleveland Browns aren't as bad as this ranking suggests. They have talent on both sides of the ball but lack a true difference maker at the quarterback position.

    I'm not among the people that feel Brandon Weeden is an NFL-ready quarterback. He needs time to develop, which will hurt the Browns' chances of pulling off victories this season.

    During his time at Oklahoma State, Weeden ran a wide-open offensive attack that looks nothing like the Browns' West Coast offense. He rarely worked from under center, nor did he relay plays via the huddle. Weeden will spent a lot of time learning terminology and how to take snaps from under center. This will prevent him from working on other areas of his game.

    The defense is an up-and-coming group and could be among the NFL's best in a few seasons. They have talented youngsters like Joe Haden, Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor and D'Qwell Jackson. This group will help keep games close, but they aren't enough to overcome the lack of explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball.

    Having to face the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens twice each won't help matters. This is a football team that will be picking early in the 2013 draft.

Miami Dolphins

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 7

    The Miami Dolphins have more talent than the other teams in Tier 7, but they have question marks at some very important positions.

    It appears that Ryan Tannehill will open the season on the bench, leaving the starting job to either Matt Moore or David Garrard. Both are average quarterbacks who can help a team win a few games. However, the Dolphins don't have the playmakers at wide receiver needed for Moore or Garrard to really succeed.

    Actually, a lot of this team's success depends on Chad Ochocinco's ability to rebound from a terrible run with the New England Patriots. The Dolphins offense would be far more explosive if he could regain some of his playmaking ability. However, it's a stretch to expect him to really have that big of an improvement.

    I have concerns about the Dolphins' decision to change their defensive strategy. They're going to feature more four-man fronts, which doesn't seem to fit their roster makeup. The biggest concern surrounds Cameron Wake and the fact that he'll be asked to rush from a three-point stance more often.

    Miami might be more talented than a few teams ranked higher on this list, but their presence in the AFC East makes the road a little tougher.

St. Louis Rams

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 7

    The St. Louis Rams did a great job this offseason bringing in a lot of  young talent and adding future assets. However, their chances of making a playoff appearance this season are slim to none.

    This team still lacks an elite playmaker at wide receiver. St. Louis is putting a lot of pressure on rookie Brian Quick to make an early impact, but he's going to need time to develop.

    Having the opportunity to play the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals twice a year gives the Rams a leg up on the other Tier 7 teams. They have a chance to tally a few more wins because of the weakness of their division.

    The defensive side of the ball has a chance to be much better than last season. Chris Long and Robert Quinn have appear ready to develop into a very dangerous pass-rush tandem. This pass rush will be enhanced by an improved secondary featuring Cortland Finnegan, Quintin Mikell and Janoris Jenkins.

    Overall, I just don't see enough talent on the offensive side of the ball for this team to really compete. Things could change if Sam Bradford fully recovers from his sophomore slump, but until we see where he's at, I'll keep the Rams low in the ranking.

Oakland Raiders

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 6

    A new coaching staff and management structure should help the Oakland Raiders remain in the middle of the pack.

    However, the fact is that there just isn't a ton of reliable talent on this team. Players like Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey struggle to consistently perform. Expect to see some well-played games followed by poor performances.

    The defensive side of the ball lacks the pass-rush and secondary talent to perform at a high level. They have some talented, savvy veterans, but it just isn't enough to consistently play winning football. The defense is average, like the rest of the team.

    Oakland's biggest issue is the health of McFadden. This is a different offense when he's on the field, but he just can't seem to remain healthy. If this is the year he plays a full 16-game season, the Raiders could contend for a playoff spot.

    However, that doesn't mean they have what it takes to make a run to the Super Bowl.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 6

    The Arizona Cardinals are another team plagued by inconsistent play at the quarterback position. This football team has some real potential, but they'll only reach it if either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton can become a consistent performer.

    I have little confidence that either quarterback has what it takes to become a winning quarterback, and that's why I have this team ranked so low.

    Outside of the quarterback play, the Cardinals offense has some excellent playmakers. Larry Fitzgerald remains one of the game's best wide receivers, and now he has Michael Floyd to help complement his skills.

    The running back combination of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams has a chance to be extremely productive. Arizona's offensive line remains a work in progress, but under-the-radar additions like Bobbie Massie and Adam Snyder will help.

    I really like the makeup of this defense and love their potential. The defensive line is extremely talented with Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell anchoring the group.

    Sam Acho has a chance to develop into one of the better pass-rushers in the league. He was underrated coming out of college and proved that with his production last season.

    Don't overlook the talent in the secondary. Patrick Peterson, Greg Toler and Adrian Wilson have the making of a very solid group. The strong offseason by Jamell Fleming adds another contributor with upside.

    Again, this team will be held back by the inconsistent play at quarterback. However, the future in Arizona is brighter than most realize.

Washington Redskins

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 6

    Things in Washington haven't gone very smoothly since Mike Shanahan was brought in to run the show. However, expectations are very high this season, as many feel that Robert Griffin III is the missing piece to the puzzle.

    As talented as Griffin III is, his presence isn't enough to propel this team into the playoff hunt.

    The offensive side of the ball has a lot of question marks. A wide receiver corps of Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson is both talented and unpredictable. The concerns include the fact Morgan hasn't really lived up to his potential, Garcon has a tendency to disappear at times, and Moss is starting to show signs of aging.

    There's not much stability along the offensive line, either. The top player is Trent Williams, who hasn't lived up to his high draft status. Don't forget the inexperience at running back, too.

    Defensively, the Redskins have the talented players needed to play winning football. That's especially true along the defensive line, with Jarvis Jenkins and Stephen Bowen backed by the pass-rushing potential of linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo.

    However, there are questions in the secondary. DeAngelo Hall is good for producing turnovers, but he also has a tendency to allow some big plays.

    The safety tandem of Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather isn't very inspiring. Jackson has a hard time staying out of trouble, and Meriweather just isn't playing at a high level.

    This team will be exciting to watch, but they just don't have the all-around talent to compete in the tough NFC East.

Tennessee Titans

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 6

    I'm expecting a lot of negative feedback surrounding this ranking of the Tennessee Titans. However, the makeup of this team just doesn't feel like one that can compete for a playoff spot.

    The unknowns start at the quarterback position, where neither Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker can provide performances to consistently win in the NFL. Hasselbeck's age has limited his effectiveness, and Locker still needs a lot of time to completely develop.

    Fortunately, both have Chris Johnson and the running game to lean on. Look for Johnson to return to form and have a great season. Tennessee's addition of Steve Hutchinson will help increase the production of the running game.

    Despite the presence of a strong running game, the offense has some question marks at wide receiver. Nate Washington had a breakout season last year, but it's unknown what the Titans will get out of Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright this season.

    Defensively, the Titans consist mostly of young, inexperienced talent. Derrick Morgan, Jurrell Casey, Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy all have less than a full season of starting experience under their belt. The talent on the defense means they'll do a decent job, but they're a few years away from becoming a few good group.

    The questions at quarterback and lack of elite talent, other than Chris Johnson, is why I have the Titans dropping back this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 6

    Blaine Gabbert had a below-average rookie season, but this is a player with talent who is now in a much better situation. The Jacksonville Jaguars used this offseason to bring in Mike Mularkey, Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson. All three will play a major role in the development of Gabbert and the success of the team.

    Mularkey did a great job putting Matt Ryan in a position to succeed. This Jaguars team has a similar makeup to the Falcons, in that they have a strong running game and a developing receiving corps. An improved game plan will go a long way in helping Gabbert.

    Jacksonville was wise to bring Mel Tucker back as defensive coordinator. He did a great job improving the defense last season. This underrated unit is good enough to overcome some of the offense's shortcomings.

    Look for the Jaguars to play a lot of closely contested games, but with a little improvement from Gabbert, they could find themselves in the playoff hunt.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 6

    I might have a higher view of the Indianapolis Colts than most, but this is a team with some underrated talent.

    It starts on the offensive side of the ball, where Andrew Luck has some weapons at this disposal. The combination of Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen has some real potential. This is a good mix of savvy veterans and young talent.

    Indianapolis' decision to feature a two-tight end offensive attack will help Luck transition. This formation will keep defenses on their toes and uncomfortable. They won't be sure if the Colts will run or pass, which ensures some element of surprise.

    However, this formation will be successful because of the pass-catching ability of Fleener and Allen. These are two rookies who know how to get open and can really attack the seam.

    The defensive side of the ball is still an area of concern, but there have been some upgrades. Making Chuck Pagano the head coach was a wise move, as he will bring some energy and a better game plan to the defense.

    The new aggressive 3-4 alignment could help mask some of the Colts' issues in the secondary. Look for Pagano to use Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to generate pressure and help the secondary.

    I also expect to see this defense hold up better against the run. New additions along the defensive line like Corey Redding, Brandon McKinney and Josh Chapman will help in this area.

    Despite the potential, the Colts are a young team led by a young quarterback. As talented as Luck is, he'll have his share of rookie mistakes. Still, their presence in the AFC South gives them a chance to make a playoff push.

Carolina Panthers

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 5

    The presence of Cam Newton—after his stellar rookie performance—means the Carolina Panthers will be both exciting and competitive. This team is still a couple years away from making a strong playoff push. However, there's enough talent here to make things interesting in the NFC South.

    Newton is the offense, and his play makes those around him better. The threat of his arm and legs allows the running game to find success. Defenses can't afford to put extra defenders in the box because of Newton's ability to connect with Steve Smith for a long strike.

    Despite all his success, Newton still needs to improve. He's not ready to put a team on his back and take them to the Super Bowl.

    The real issue for the Panthers is on the defensive side of the ball. Charles Johnson, Jon Beason and Luke Kuechly are all good players, but they aren't surrounded by the talent it takes to play winning football. This unit will limit the team's chances for success, especially this season.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 5

    The Seattle Seahawks are a quarterback away from giving the San Francisco 49ers fits in the NFC West. This is a team with a lot of young talent and potential playmakers.

    Offensively, Marshawn Lynch and Sidney Rice are the difference-makers. Lynch's hard-nosed running style helps keep the chains moving while opening things up down the field for Rice. However, neither will be very effective unless Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson or Russell Wilson can solidify the quarterback position.

    Jackson is the only one of the group that offers any comfort level—not because of his success, but because you know what to expect. Both Flynn and Wilson have greater upside but are unknowns at this stage in their career.

    The defense is an up-and-coming group with a lot of talent. Players like Chris Clemons, Earl Thomas and Red Bryant have proven to be real difference-makers. However, it's young guys like Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner that could help this group take the next step. A pass-rush tandem of Clemons and Irvin has the potential to be very successful.

    It'll take a perfect storm for the Seahawks to make a strong playoff push, as this team still lacks the overall talent to be a Super Bowl contender.

New York Jets

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 5

    This New York Jets team is too dysfunctional to really have a shot at playing in the Super Bowl. There also are some questions surrounding the talent on the roster.

    The obvious starting point is at the quarterback position, where Mark Sanchez could be facing his last chance to solidify himself as the franchise's quarterback of the future. However, he'll have to do so with Tim Tebow breathing down his neck and Santonio Holmes throwing temper tantrums.

    These issues, combined with a rushing attack that ranked No. 22 in the league, aren't a recipe for success. The Jets want to run the football but lack the horses to consistently get the job done. The flashes shown by Shonn Greene just haven't been enough. How can Sanchez be expected to excel in an offensive attack based on an average running game?

    I'm very confused about the plan to feature more four-man fronts this season. Rex Ryan's defense has been successful over the years because of his 3-4 attack. This move just seems like an experiment to hide their issues getting after the quarterback. Last year's team only tallied 35 sacks, which ranked them in the bottom half of the league.

    This change in philosophy seems to be centered around the addition of Quinton Coples, who is a natural 4-3 defensive end.

    Don't rely on the hype of the Jets; this is a team with a lot of holes and issues.

Buffalo Bills

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 4

    The Buffalo Bills have the look of a team ready to make a strong playoff push. Their offseason additions provide balance on both sides of the ball for a roster that had a fast start last season.

    Last year, the offense created a lot of buzz, but look for the defense to take over as the top unit. Their defense is talented enough to lead a playoff push, but Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

    Buffalo's defensive line is one of the best in football. The combination of Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mark Anderson has a ton of potential. This is a unit that will both create pressure and hold up against the run.

    The defensive line is complemented by an underrated secondary. Adding Stephon Gilmore to a secondary that already features Terrence McGee, Aaron Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Jairus Byrd and George Wilson creates a talented group. The linebacker group of Nick Barnett, Kirk Morrison and Kelvin Sheppard is also very underrated.

    Offensively, the Bills rely on Fred Jackson to contribute in both the running and passing game. His presence provides opportunities for others to find success.

    Look for C.J. Spiller to become a bigger part of the offense. He came on late last season and could be in store for a breakout year. Both Jackson and Spiller will benefit from an improving offensive line. Cordy Glenn, Chris Hairston and Eric Wood are all very talented run-blockers.

    The passing attack depends on Ryan Fitzpatrick's ability to regain his magic from early last year. Buffalo can't afford another late-season collapse by Fitzpatrick.

    Overall, the Bills defense is talented enough to lead a team to the playoffs. Combine that with a strong running game, and you have yourself a strong playoff contender. However, Fitzpatrick's limitations will keep this team from making it to the Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 4

    The Kansas City Chiefs have a roster filled with good young talent. Their only major question mark surrounds Matt Cassel.

    With a strong running game, a powerful offensive line and explosive receivers, Cassel has all the pieces needed to succeed. However, his career 59 percent completion rate is evidence of his inconsistency.

    In order for the Chiefs to make a playoff run, they need Cassel to take advantage of the talent surrounding him. An inconsistent Cassel will hurt the production of the running game and limit the plays made by his talented wide receivers.

    Either this offense puts up big numbers or Cassel falters, thereby placing too much pressure on the defense.

    This defense is young, explosive and underrated. There's top-notch talent at all levels, led by Tamba Hali. Hali's ability to put pressure on the quarterback helps his teammates play more aggressively. Additionally, a promising rookie season from Justin Houston gives the Chiefs the potential to have a very strong pass rush.

    Kansas City's addition of Dontari Poe will have a big impact on the team's ability to stop the run. His size allows him to occupy both space and blockers. The linebackers will find it much easier to flow to the football with Poe in the lineup.

    Their talent on defense and offensive playmakers help the Chiefs make a playoff appearance. However, Cassel is too inconsistent to lead this team to a Super Bowl appearance.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 4

    This current Atlanta Falcons roster has reached its peak and will be nothing more than a playoff team. The hopes of reaching the Super Bowl with this roster appear very slim.

    Atlanta has talent, but some of that talent is starting to show signs of decline. Players like Michael Turner, John Abraham and Ray Edwards all appear to be regressing.

    This team's success over the past few years has had a lot to do with the running ability of Michael Turner. His effectiveness opened opportunities for Matt Ryan and the passing game. Turner still might top the 1,000-rushing mark, but the heavy amount of carries he has received over the years has limited his effectiveness.

    With the possible decline in Turner's production, Matt Ryan will be asked to have a bigger role in the offense, meaning both Roddy White and Julio Jones will be more involved in the game plan.

    The Falcons should become more of a pass-oriented offense. However, Atlanta's coaching staff needs to be willing to go in that direction.

    Atlanta's defense will struggle to get pressure on the quarterback this season. Abraham is on the decline, and Edwards only managed 3.5 sacks last season. This limited pass rush will put more pressure on the secondary. The defensive backfield has a lot talent, but nobody can cover forever.

    This is a very average football team that may benefit from the coaching upheaval in New Orleans.

New Orleans Saints

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 4

    With Drew Brees directing the offense, the New Orleans Saints still have a good shot at making a playoff appearance. However, the suspensions of coaches and players will make it tough for this team to make a run at the Super Bowl. That, combined with some remaining issues on the defensive side of the ball, is why I have them in Tier 4.

    The problem with the defense stems from the effectiveness of the offense. Brees and company put so much pressure on the opposing offense that they need to find a way to keep up with their scoring. This usually means attacking through the air. Cornerbacks Patrick Robinson and Jabari Greer aren't able to consistently hold up against that type of pressure.

    New Orleans' limited pass rush also contributes to the struggles in coverage. With Will Smith suspended, the Saints are counting on players like Junior Galette, Martez Wilson and Cameron Jordan to create pressure. They combined for a total of 6.5 sacks last season.

    Expect to see a slight drop in production from the offense. Pete Carmichael Jr. and Drew Brees can keep their heads above water, but Sean Payton will be missed.

    The Saints will be in the playoff hunt, but this isn't a legitimate championship contender.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 3

    I have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as my breakout team. Their offseason moves, combined with returning talent, give them a great shot to make some noise this season. Adding Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David upgraded the roster talent.

    However, bringing Greg Schiano in as the head coach is a more significant move.

    Last season's Buccaneers team lacked discipline and focus—two things Schiano emphasizes. He's going to make sure every player gives 100 percent and reaches their potential. This will be a more focused and committed football team.

    The offensive side of the ball has the talent to put up a ton of points. Josh Freeman is surrounded by top-notch talent in Jackson, Martin and Mike Williams. Don't forget about the potentially dominant offensive line; in the New York Giants' offensive line played a major role in their 2007 Super Bowl run.

    Defensively, the Buccaneers are young, but very talented. This could be the year Gerald McCoy finally lives up to expectations.

    However, the two rookie additions will help make this unit successful. Barron and David are tenacious and explosive playmakers. Both fly to the football and make plays all over the field. Their aggressiveness will rub off on the rest of the team.

    All the new parts could create some growing pains. However, if this team can make the playoffs, they have enough talent to make a Super Bowl run.

Denver Broncos

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 3

    A fully healthy Peyton Manning can lead even an average football team to the playoffs. However, we're not sure the true status of Manning's health. Coming off of a major injury and going through the first major change of his career could be difficult.

    This is why I have the Denver Broncos listed as playoff contenders who won't make a Super Bowl appearance.

    Manning will find that things in Denver are very different than Indianapolis. First, there's the different talent level at wide receiver. He's no longer throwing to the likes of Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are the top targets in Denver, and they're nowhere near as polished as Manning's weapons in Indianapolis. 

    Manning demands a lot from his teammates, which could cause some issues with the younger players on the team. Overall, Manning is still very talented and a winner, but there will be some bumps in the road.

    The pass-rushing duo of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller makes the Broncos defense dangerous. However, the suspension of D.J. Williams leaves a big hole at linebacker.

    I also have some concerns about the defense's ability to stop the run. Losing Brodrick Bunkley means Denver is counting on Ty Warren, Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan to shut down their opponents' rushing attack.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 3

    The pieces are in place for Tony Romo to finally lead the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl. He's got a solid offensive line, plenty of weapons and a strong defense to complement the offense.

    Romo only has to get through teams like the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. The road won't be easy, but there's plenty of talent on the roster.

    Last season, the offense led the way, but this year, look for the defense to set the table. The additions of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr solidify a secondary that had major issues last year.

    Addressing these issues will make the rest of the unit much stronger. Rob Ryan can now run his aggressive attack knowing that he has solid coverage on the back end.

    The Cowboys are starting to put together a strong offensive line. Tyron Smith is one of my favorite young players and appears ready to contend for an All-Pro spot. He and Doug Free make a nice tackle tandem.

    The offensive line accentuates a very strong cast of playmakers. Pass-catchers like Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten give Romo a lot of options, making it difficult for defenses to game plan.

    Finding stability in the running game will be key. Both DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones missed time last season with injuries. If both are healthy, this could be a very potent rushing attack.

    Despite all the talent, Dallas seems like a team that might have their ups and downs during the season. However, they're talented enough to make a run to the Super Bowl if they find a way into the playoffs.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 3

    The success of the Philadelphia Eagles depends on the health of Michael Vick. He's proven that when healthy, he's capable of leading his team to victory. However, his aggressive style of play has forced him out of the lineup very often. The Eagles would be in a higher tier if Vick showed any type of durability.

    Philadelphia's offense might depend on on Vick's health, but it revolves around LeSean McCoy. Last season, McCoy put up eye-popping numbers. He's an explosive playmaker who makes impact plays in both the running and passing game. His success helps other playmakers like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin find openings.

    Look for the defense to be much more successful this season. They brought in some key pieces like DeMeco Ryans, Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks. The additions to the linebacker corps are the most significant, as the defense struggled in that area last season.

    This is a very talented football team, but Vick's health brings a lot of uncertainty.

San Diego Chargers

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 2

    This is the year that the San Diego Chargers make a significant run in the playoffs. The roster additions made in the offseason increased the talent level of the team.

    Players like Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem will help change the offensive attack. This is the first time in a while that Philip Rivers has a legitimate slot receiver. Adding Royal could really help fill the void if Antonio Gates misses time with an injury again.

    The past couple of years, Rivers has had to deal with Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates missing time for various reasons. More reliable and durable receivers will help Rivers rebound and strike an accord with his receiving corps.

    I have some concerns surrounding the running game. Ryan Mathews is very talented, but he has dealt with a string of injuries that limited his production. With Ronnie Brown as his primary backup, Mathews needs to remain healthy if the Chargers want to have any semblance of a running game.

    A strong rushing attack could be the catalyst for the Chargers making a Super Bowl run.

    The offseason moves on the defensive side of the ball were very significant. Adding Jarret Johnson, Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes and Brandon Taylor are major upgrades, as they add both depth and impact players. Look for Ingram to add much needed pressure off the edge, while Johnson and Reyes will help stop the run.

    Having Peyton Manning in the division should have an impact on the Chargers' issues with focus. They must realize that a slow start or extended losing streak will keep them out of the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 2

    The Cincinnati Bengals are here to stay because of smart roster moves and a good group of young leaders. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are committed to winning football games, which is something that was missing in Cincinnati over the years.

    Their early success has really raised expectations, and this team looks ready to take charge of the AFC North. The Bengals will contend for the AFC North title and make a strong playoff run because of their balance.

    Cincinnati's offense has weapons in the passing game like Green, Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley and Mohamed Sanu. Each of these players brings a different skill set to the offense and gives Dalton the talented weapons needed to succeed.

    The passing game must be successful, because Cincinnati's running attack is very average.

    Though not a playmaker, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is very solid and reliable, and his ability to avoid turnovers will help this young team. If Bernard Scott can break off some long runs, the running game will be much more effective.

    The Bengals defense is two or three players deep at each position. Having depth is important in the NFL because injuries are a part of the league. The Bengals will be able to replace an injured player without losing much production.

Detroit Lions

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 2

    The Detroit Lions' offensive attack is among the most explosive in the entire NFL. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are legitimate MVP candidates with the ability to lead their team to the Super Bowl.

    The rest of the roster consists with enough talent to make a strong run this season. Look for Stafford to show the league that he belongs in the discussion of the league's top passers.

    Detroit's offense could be unstoppable if Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure remain healthy, as that would allow the Lions to establish a strong running attack to complement their high-powered passing game. This is a team that will only go as far as their offense will lead them, so it's important that they find some sort of balance.

    The defensive side of the ball has some question marks that could derail their Super Bowl hopes. Finding a way to stop the opponent's passing game could be difficult for this defense. The cornerback group of Chris Houston, Aaron Berry and Dwight Bentley is average at best, so the defensive line needs to generate a ton of pressure.

    Luckily, players like Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nick Fairley excel at creating pressure. These four are the key to the Lions' success, because if they fail to get after the quarterback, the entire defense will struggle.

Chicago Bears

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    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 2

    Jay Cutler finally has some support in Chicago on both the coaching staff and receiving corps. The elevation of Mike Tice to offensive coordinator and adding Jeremy Bates replaces the dictatorship that was Mike Martz.

    Being able to express himself will be something that helps Cutler find success. A happy Jay Cutler is what the Chicago Bears need to make a Super Bowl push.

    The Bears offense is finally ready to overtake the defense as the top unit on the team. Adding Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Michael Bush increases the explosiveness of the unit. Chicago will surprise a lot of people with just how effective their offense will be this season.

    Of course, the offensive line issues remain, and that could potentially put a quick end to the Bears' Super Bowl hopes.

    Chicago's defense is rapidly aging, but they appear capable of one or two more strong seasons. However, they need young playmakers like Henry Melton, Shea McClellin, Major Wright, Chris Conte and Stephen Paea to make an impact. Finding a good balance between the veterans and youngsters is very important.

    The hopes of this football team rely on the play of Cutler. He showed major improvements last season and could be ready for a breakout season. The weapons are in place, so this is as good an opportunity as any.

Baltimore Ravens

27 of 33

    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 2

    How much longer does this current Baltimore Ravens roster have to contend for a Super Bowl? I expect this to be their last strong run for a couple of seasons. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can't play forever, and once they're gone, this defense loses a lot of leadership.

    Once the defense starts to decline, this team will be in a lot of trouble. Baltimore will have a good year, but this also could be the start of a fall down the standings. Joe Flacco is an above-average quarterback, but he's not capable of overcoming poor defensive play.

    Luckily, the defense is a year or two a way from a major decline. That's why the Ravens remain in the upper tiers.

    The defense lost Terrell Suggs to injury, but plenty of talent still remains. A core of Haloti Ngata, Lewis and Reed are enough to keep this unit among the best in the NFL. However, they'll need younger players like Courtney Upshaw, Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee to step up. These younger players have the ability to create a spark and make this defense great.

    Offensively, Joe Flacco showed last season that he can put it together long enough to lead this team close to a Super Bowl appearance. Baltimore has committed a lot of resources to put playmakers like Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice and Torrey Smith around Flacco.

Pittsburgh Steelers

28 of 33

    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 1

    The Pittsburgh Steelers' embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos in last year's playoffs left a nasty taste in the team's mouth. However, they'll need a strong performance from Ben Roethlisberger and a host of young defensive players to erase that bad memory.

    This could be the last legitimate run for this roster.

    Offensively, the Steelers should be more effective because of the improvements along the offensive line. Drafting Mike Adams and David DeCastro allowed Pittsburgh to shift some other players and strengthen the entire unit.

    Improved offensive line play will help the rushing attack and keep Roethlisberger healthy. Look for Roethlisberger to have a strong season if he's less banged up and has a running game to lean on.

    The defensive side of the ball might have some issues playing at an elite level. Casey Hampton's injury will force him out of the lineup for a few weeks, and that hurts Pittsburgh's run-stuffing ability. Look for the linebackers to have a tougher time flowing to the football.

    Age is also a concern on the defensive side of the ball. They need young players like Cameron Heyward, Jason Worilds and Keenan Lewis to become major contributors. This shouldn't be a major concern, because Dick LeBeau knows how to develop young talent.

New England Patriots

29 of 33

    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 1

    Tom Brady's presence means the New England Patriots always have a legitimate shot at making a Super Bowl appearance.

    If you notice, throughout this article, the teams with solid quarterback play tend to be ranked higher. Brady has shown over the years that he's capable of succeeding despite some shortcomings on the rest of the roster.

    However, there's enough question marks on the defensive side of the ball to keep the Patriots from reaching their goal. New England's defense is anything but stable, and Brady will need to have another stellar season to overcome this issue.

    The biggest concerns on the defensive side of the ball are the secondary and pass rush. New England lost 20 sacks when Mark Anderson and Andre Carter didn't return. They are expecting rookie Chandler Jones to pick up the slack. This is a lot to put on a rookie, so it would be safe to expect the Patriots to struggle generating pressure.

    A lack of pressure is going to have a negative impact on an already-suspect secondary. New England needs Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and Patrick Chung to raise the level of their play. These two defensive issues could make this a really long year in New England.

    The offense should be equally as explosive as last season. They have all their top playmakers returning and also added Brandon Lloyd to the mix. Lloyd has a ton of talent and could have a highly productive year in this system.

    Opposing defenses will have a tough time handling the combination of Lloyd, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Green Bay Packers

30 of 33

    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 1

    The Green Bay Packers are in a situation similar to that of the New England Patriots. Their defense is suspect and could be the reason they fail to win another Super Bowl. However, the additions of Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy could have a major impact.

    Aaron Rodgers and the offense only need a slight improvement from the defense to make another run.

    Rodgers has a full host of weapons at his disposal, like Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, James Jones and Randall Cobb. There are not many defenses that can keep this unit in check.

    However, a lack of a running attack could be a major weakness. If opponents don't have to commit extra defenders to stop the run, they'll be able to slow down such a powerful passing attack.

    Green Bay's defense needs Nick Perry to quickly develop into an effective pass-rusher. Opposing offenses will focus a lot of attention on stopping Clay Matthews, which opens plenty of opportunities for Perry. If he isn't able to produce, it will be another long season for the Packers defense.

New York Giants

31 of 33

    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 1

    Offseason additions and the return of several injured players will improve the New York Giants' Super Bowl-winning team. Improved depth combined with the step forward Eli Manning took last year makes the Giants strong contenders again.

    Because of the additions of David Wilson and Rueben Randle, I expect the Giants to be more productive on offense.

    Eli Manning is an elite quarterback who continues to improve. He knows how to use the weapons around him to pull off a win in pressure situations. He also has a strong defense, which helps him rebound from any mistakes.

    He'll be very excited to see the return of his running game thanks to a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw and rookie David Wilson. Manning is always at his best when he has a strong running game to complement the passing attack.

    The defense gets healthier and deeper this season, especially in the secondary. Terrell Thomas, Prince Amukamara and Marvin Austin's return could make a difference. Combined with the continued the development of Jason Pierre-Paul, this makes the Giants one of the better defenses in the league.

San Francisco 49ers

32 of 33

    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 1

    The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl hopes depend on the play of Alex Smith. The rest of this team has enough talent to make a strong playoff run despite some mistakes by the quarterback, but they can't win a Super Bowl without top-notch quarterback play.

    However, Smith has the weapons around him to take a step forward in his development. Also, the play of the defense can help overcome some offensive ineptitude.

    San Francisco's additions of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James give the offense a lot more firepower. Look for an improved passing attack to open more running room for Frank Gore and company.

    Jim Harbaugh is disciplined enough to avoid falling in love with his new toys; he'll ensure the offense remains balanced. This balance is key to whether or not this offense can reach its potential.

    The defensive side of the ball returns all their starters from last season and looks to remain among the top units in the NFL. San Francisco's defense has a group of young stars like Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis that will only continue to improve.

Houston Texans

33 of 33

    Super Bowl Odds: Tier 1

    The Houston Texans have the defense, quarterback play and offensive weapons needed to win a Super Bowl title.

    A lot of their hopes rely on the health of Matt Schaub, but even if he misses some time, this team is talented enough to make a playoff run. They have the best balance of all the teams in the NFL, and that is why I have them ranked as the most likely win the Super Bowl. The way they overcame two quarterback injuries last season shows just how talented and well coached this team is.

    Offensively, the Texans are only missing a legitimate target opposite Andre Johnson. Still, Arian Foster's running ability helps take pressure off Johnson and draw defenders in the box.

    Conversely, Johnson's ability to stretch the field makes it hard for defenses to stack the box. These threats are orchestrated well by Gary Kubiak and his offensive staff. Having such a talented coach helps keep the Texans offense running like a well-oiled machine.

    Wade Phillips and the defense are what makes this team so dangerous. This group ranked in the top five in both stopping the pass and run. They now added Whitney Mercilus to help increase the productivity of the pass rush. The trio of Mercilus, Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed has the potential to cause some damage.

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