2012 Super Bowl Odds: NFL Training Camp Edition

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2012

2012 Super Bowl Odds: NFL Training Camp Edition

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    Training camp is nigh! Let us celebrate by talking about the Super Bowl.

    Anything can happen in today's NFL, but certain teams are better positioned than others. Records might be reset to 0-0, but are the Cleveland Browns real Super Bowl contenders this season?

    Here are my Super Bowl odds for each team.



    Note: Like most psychics, this is for entertainment purposes only.

Arizona Cardinals

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    If the second half of last season is any indication, the Cardinals are going to take the NFL by surprise in 2012.

    Arizona clawed their way out of the cellar with a 7-2 finish on the season after slogging through a 1-6 start. They did so with defense, allowing eight fewer points per game during their final nine games than they did through their first seven.

    The Cardinals have gotten better by way of the draft this offseason. They also added some key free agents, though whether Adam Snyder and William Gay will make a positive impact is debatable. Snyder was not particularly good for the 49ers last season, and Gay is replacing a good, versatile defensive back in Richard Marshall.

    Serious questions remain at the most important position of all, however: Larry Fitzgerald's ball caddy.

    John Skelton has flashed some promise as a developmental player in his first two years in the league, but he has not reached a level of consistent quality yet. Kevin Kolb was simply not worth half of his price tag in his first year with the Cardinals, though injuries hampered him for half the season.


    Super Bowl Odds: Getting up off your couch and finishing a 10k run

Atlanta Falcons

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    Make the playoffs. Lose in the first round. Rinse and repeat.

    That has been the story of the Falcons since Matt Ryan was drafted in 2008. They have shown promise in his first four seasons, but they have never been able to continue their success in the postseason.

    What will make 2012 different? That's a serious question; please let me know.

    In all seriousness, the Falcons can get to that next level with an improved defense. Mike Nolan has made a career out of improving defenses, and Atlanta is talented enough to crack the top 10.

    Combined with another year of improvement from Matt Ryan and a NFC South wracked by controversy and turmoil, the Falcons might nab a first-round bye.


    Super Bowl Odds: Getting out of a speeding ticket on the last day of the month

Baltimore Ravens

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    So close.

    Joe Flacco almost led the Ravens back to the promised land last season, coming one Lee Evans dropped touchdown and Billy Cundiff missed field goal short of a Super Bowl berth.

    Did the offseason help them get over the top?

    The Ravens lost some key personnel this offseason—namely Ben Grubbs, Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson—and they did little to replace them in free agency. 

    They were able to snag Courtney Upshaw in the draft, mitigating the loss of two outside linebackers, and they hope second-year man Jah Reid or one of their rookies—Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski—can fill in for Ben Grubbs.

    With so many improvements in the AFC, it will be tough for the Ravens to get that close again.


    Super Bowl Odds: Finding your wallet on a downtown sidewalk an hour after dropping it

Buffalo Bills

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    Buffalo got off to a surprising start last season, going 5-2 before finishing out the season on an abysmal 1-8 run.

    Their defense was largely to blame for that, giving up nearly 32 points per game (PPG) in that span.

    Well, guess what Buffalo has fixed—at least on paper?

    Buffalo had an excellent offseason, acquiring premier pass-rushing talent in Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, to a lesser extent. They also drafted Stephon Gilmore and get veteran Terrence McGee back from injury.

    Getting their pass-rush mojo back will give the secondary a fighting chance, and moving Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus inside will solidify the run defense.

    On offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick and his cohorts return after a promising season. Fred Jackson is back from injury, reprising his role as elder statesman in a dangerous backfield. Stevie Johnson is also back with a new contract, though the Bills could have used another consistent receiver to pair him with.

    The hope is that one or more receivers out of Donald Jones, David Nelson, Naaman Roosevelt and T.J. Graham will emerge in training camp and the preseason.


    Super Bowl Odds: Fitzpatrick playing the role of young Gandalf in Peter Jackson's next film

Carolina Panthers

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    Say it with me now: Cam Newton is not going to score 14 rushing touchdowns this season.

    Fortunately, the Panthers will not need him to with the addition of Mike Tolbert, and perhaps the proper utilization of their running backs in general at the goal line. (In other words, Jonathan Stewart fantasy owners everywhere implore Ron Rivera to use the guy more often.)

    Really, though, with a weapon like Newton, who could blame them?

    The Panthers hope "Superman" does not hit a sophomore slump, and there may be cause for concern. After blitzing the league with 400-plus passing yards in his first two games as a rookie, Newton averaged just 228 yards per game (YPG) on 59.4 percent passing after that, throwing for just 19 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.

    That's not a particularly encouraging downslope as a passer.

    Fortunately, he still has Steve Smith to throw to. Rivera and the Panthers hope Brandon LaFell is up to the task as Newton's No. 2 receiver. The Panthers also essentially traded Jeff Otah for Louis Murphy just before training camp, hoping one disappointment can deliver where another could not because of injuries.

    Defensively, however, the Panthers look to get better by virtue of health. They get Jon Beason and Thomas Davis back. The addition of rookie Luke Kuechly makes that linebacker corps a dangerous one, but there was not much else done to improve that porous defense during the offseason.


    Super Bowl Odds: Sex Panther at five percent potency

Chicago Bears

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    The Bears were in the thick of the playoff hunt last year at 7-3. Then Jay Cutler broke his finger.

    This was coming off a playoff run that saw them nearly make the Super Bowl before Jay Cutler tore his MCL.

    The offseason has been nice for Cutler and the Bears, though, as they finally got him some help. The big catch was landing Brandon Marshall via trade, giving Cutler a bona fide receiving threat on the outside. They doubled down for him by drafting Alshon Jeffery in the second round.

    Chicago also shored up some key depth positions with Jason Campbell at quarterback and Michael Bush at running back. With Matt Forte signed, Bush will do what he does best: back up a great running back. Campbell gives them a decent backup quarterback—the Bears know all too well what happened when Caleb Hanie was pressed into action last season.

    Defensively, the Bears needed an upgrade to their pass-rush. They think they've gotten that with first-round pick Shea McClellin.

    With the turmoil surrounding the Lions, the Bears could roar back into the playoffs. 


    Super Bowl Odds: The Bulls getting to the Finals with Carlos Boozer

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Led by two rookies, the Bengals took the league by surprise and made the playoffs. Andy Dalton was not supposed to have the arm strength to make it according to some pundits, but he certainly looked comfortable starting in Cincinnati.

    Perhaps stud receiver A.J. Green had something to do with that.

    As surprising as the offense was, Mike Zimmer's defense played a big part in getting the team to the postseason, ranking in the top 10. That defense is largely intact.

    Can Dalton avoid a sophomore slump and get the Bengals back to the playoffs? It will be a tall task for the TCU product.


    Super Bowl Odds: Redheads going extinct in the next 100 years

Cleveland Browns

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    Will the Browns ever break the hex Art Modell put on that team when he moved the original team to Baltimore?

    If experts have anything to say about it, not anytime soon.

    Depending on who you talk to, the Browns had a terrible or fantastic draft by moving up to take running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick in an era where backs have been devalued and selecting a 28-year-old quarterback in the first round.

    They also spent a future second-round pick on receiver Josh Gordon, who has been out of football for a year, in the supplemental draft.

    The Browns did have a surprisingly good defense, landing in the top 10 in scoring and total defense for the season, despite giving up the third-most rushing yards in the league. If their defense can continue playing well and the offense works, they will be better than the worst team in the league.


    Super Bowl Odds: All Dawg Pound occupants being adopted

Dallas Cowboys

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    Another season of high expectations for the Cowboys, another one ending in bitter disappointment.

    This ending was of the non-playoff variety for Jerry Jones' team, struggling to an 8-8 record and watching rival New York take another Super Bowl crown for the NFC East.

    An exceedingly average defense was a major culprit, and the Cowboys set out to fix it during the offseason. They signed Brandon Carr and drafted Morris Claiborne (signing him to a four-year deal, according to a tweet by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) to fix the secondary—a sore spot for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

    Of course, with the rest of the NFC East getting better, is Dallas merely keeping pace?


    Super Bowl Odds: Jerry Jones installing more big screens in his stadium

Denver Broncos

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    John Fox likes to run the ball. Peyton Manning likes to pass it.

    Fortunately, Manning will not have to run an option attack in Denver, though it would be an amusing sight.

    The Broncos were certainly one of the offseason's winners, and not just because they landed a future Hall of Famer and got rid of their 47 percent passer as a result. They also signed Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen to improve the tight end position, and they had a pretty good draft.

    Denver's division has not gotten any easier, however. On the contrary, Kansas City and San Diego are on the rebound, and Oakland will be tougher than it looks.

    If Manning is fully healthy and his arm strength is all the way back, though, this is going to be a dangerous team.


    Super Bowl Odds: Manning requiring more neck surgery in 2012

Detroit Lions

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    The Lions had seven player arrests from 2000-2011. They have matched that number in 2012, and there are still five months to go.

    Three players have multiple arrests, including second-year defensive tackle Nick Fairley, Mikel Leshoure and cornerback Aaron Berry, who has since been waived, according to Dave Farrar of Yahoo! Sports. Fairley and Leshoure might miss significant time as a result.

    As long as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson can lead a potent attack, though, the Lions will be competitive. Whether they can make another playoff run with all these distractions or not will be a testament to Jim Schwartz's coaching prowess.


    Super Bowl Odds: The Lions reaching double digits in 2012...in arrests

Green Bay Packers

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    The Packers nearly went undefeated while dealing with a 31st-ranked defense.

    Think about that.

    This was a defensive unit that took a step back a bit inexplicably, though injuries played a part. The front seven regressed, and that's what the Packers aimed to fix this offseason.

    The draft saw the Packers take Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels and Terrell Manning to bolster the front lines, and they also signed Phillip Merling and Tony Hargrove. They knew exactly what they had to fix, and they went about fixing it.

    If that defense can return to form, the Packers will threaten perfection once more. 


    Super Bowl Odds: Aaron Rodgers winning consecutive NFL MVP awards

Houston Texans

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    Gary Kubiak and the Texans finally popped the cork on a playoff appearance despite losing their starting and backup quarterbacks with six games left on the schedule.

    Fortunately for them, the rest of the AFC South was not very good.

    The division is ripe for the taking once again, and the Texans are not likely to give it up just yet. Tennessee poses a real threat, but the Colts are rebuilding, and the Jaguars are the Jaguars.

    On paper, Houston lost a lot this offseason. Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston, Lawrence Vickers and Joel Dreessen are gone, among others, and the Texans did little to replace them. They hope that incumbents like James Casey and rookies like Whitney Mercilus can step in and fill those holes.

    They will in some cases, but it will be a big gamble in others.


    Super Bowl Odds: Getting a vegan to eat a steak after a hunger strike

Indianapolis Colts

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    Losing an icon was a bitter pill to swallow for the city of Indianapolis, but a spoonful of Andrew Luck helps the medicine go down.

    The Colts lucked out with another franchise quarterback to replace their previous one, meaning their time in the cellar will be short-lived. Their multiyear rebuilding plan focused on the offense this offseason as all, but one of their draft picks were offensive players.

    The key word is "multiyear."

    Incidentally, their one defensive pick was nose tackle Josh Chapman, who happened to be one of the steals of the draft.


    Super Bowl Odds: Jonathan Vilma getting an apology letter from Roger Goodell

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Lost in Jacksonville's abysmal 2011 season was a defensive unit that quietly ranked sixth in total defense.

    That silver lining returns this season, as the defense has largely remained intact. The Jaguars retained Jeremy Mincey and Dwight Lowery and added cornerback Aaron Ross from the champion New York Giants. They also drafted Andre Branch, who should bolster their pass rush, in the second round.

    Of course, a good defense can only take you so far, as evidenced by Jacksonville's 5-11 finish last season.

    Blaine Gabbert was not ready to enter the fray, but the Jaguars put him in early. His lack of pocket presence and awareness hurt him almost as much as his lack of receiving options. The Jaguars ranked dead last in passing last season.

    Yep, even the run-heavy option in Denver managed to squeak by the Jaguars.

    In fact, Jacksonville ranked dead last in total offense, averaging a paltry 259 YPG despite league-leading rusher Maurice Jones-Drew pacing the run game.

    Gene Smith hopes to have improved that with the additions of Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon at receiver. While they are certainly better than Mike Thomas and Jason Hill, they are no Fitzgerald and Floyd or Dez and Austin.


    Super Bowl Odds: Jaguaring becoming the new planking

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Kansas City made a surprise visit to the postseason in 2010, where they lost in the Wild Card Round. As such, the mood was high heading into 2011. Then, the torn ligament epidemic hit.

    It started with promising sophomore Tony Moeaki, moving on to Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles. The injury bug eventually hit starting quarterback Matt Cassel, forcing the Chiefs to start Tyler Palko at one point in the season.

    Of course, injuries were not the entire story for the Chiefs. Todd Haley coached his way out of a job as the Chiefs lost five of six games at one point. 

    Despite all this, the Chiefs wound up just one game back of division-champion Denver. They played inspired football after defensive-minded Romeo Crennel took over, improbably handing Green Bay its only loss of the regular season and beating playoff-bound Denver to make things interesting in the AFC West.

    Crennel is back, and so are the injured stars. The Chiefs may not have Tom Brady at quarterback, but they have a competent one surrounded by a bevy of talent.


    Super Bowl Odds: Finding a bad BBQ joint in Kansas City

Miami Dolphins

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    Much like the Jaguars, Miami's defense is coming off an underrated performance.

    Considering the defense gave up 38 points on 622 total yards in their season-opening loss to New England, it's a wonder they wound up sixth and 15th in scoring and total defense, respectively. A three-game winning streak without allowing a touchdown helped quite a bit.

    While defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has moved on to Atlanta, the defensive personnel remains largely the same. Their biggest losses were Kendall Langford on the defensive line and safety Yeremiah Bell, who was a 34-year-old liability in coverage. 

    Offensively, however, the team seems to be in a bit of disarray.

    That is thanks to rookie head coach Joe Philbin's desire to revamp the offense. Brandon Marshall is gone, leaving Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Chad Johnson, Clyde Gates, B.J. Cunningham, Legedu Naanee and Rishard Mathews to duke it out at receiver.

    That group of receivers will not exactly instill fear in opposing defenses.


    Super Bowl Odds: The new logo design including a porpoise

Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings were nearly the NFL's third-worst team last season. And then, Adrian Peterson got injured.

    The stud running back may be back for Week 1, but what kind of contribution will he be able to make? The Vikings are fortunate to have Toby Gerhart, who may not be Peterson but can fill in adequately.

    Of course, the running game was not Minnesota's problem last year. It was the defense. And the passing game.

    The Vikings were ranked 21st and 31st in total and scoring defense, respectively, last season, a major reason for their 3-13 campaign.

    Minnesota did manage to keep games close, losing nine games by seven points or less. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but they can take solace in their future having hung close in the past.


    Super Bowl Odds: That Jared Allen's alter ego is Thor

New England Patriots

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    If Bill Belichick and the Patriots had to describe the New York Giants in one word, it would probably be "Kryptonite."

    Twice now, the Giants have foiled the favored Patriots to win a championship. Twice.

    New England's resolve has not wavered, however. 

    The Patriots simply restocked this offseason, adding Brandon Lloyd to Tom Brady's talented group of receivers and tight ends and drafting with an eye to improve that defense.

    If rookies Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Tavon Wilson can help get that defense close to Super Bowl-winning levels, another trip to the Big Game is virtually inevitable.


    Super Bowl Odds: Brady growing out his hair again

New Orleans Saints

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    In what has been the most tumultuous offseason for one NFL team in quite a while, the Saints have somehow gotten stronger on paper.

    They mitigated the loss of Carl Nicks by signing Ben Grubbs. Foresight led them to sign David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton, who will man the linebacker position in lieu of suspended Jonathan Vilma. (Assuming Mr. Vilma's lawsuit does not overturn his suspension, in which case New Orleans is even stronger at the position.)

    It will be interesting to see how the team will fare without their leader, Sean Payton, whose suspension will not be overturned in court. It certainly helps that they have one of the league's best quarterbacks in Drew Brees.


    Super Bowl Odds: Drew Brees singing "Born on the Bayou" on national television

New York Giants

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    World champs. Can they do it again?

    The truth of the matter is that the Giants barely made the playoffs at 9-7. That should not detract from their accomplishment, but it is a potential indicator of future success—or failure in this case.

    The NFC East was surprisingly weak last season, though beating each other up had something to do with that. Philadelphia stumbled and never recovered, Dallas was up and down with a porous defense, and Washington was the Redskins.

    (Though, in fairness, Washington did beat New York twice. Do they get miniature Super Bowl ring replicas as consolation?)

    This year, each of those teams seems to have improved. Philadelphia and Dallas addressed their defensive issues, and Washington finally got a quarterback.

    What did New York do to improve?

    This offseason was about plugging holes more than anything else for the Giants. With Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum sidelined with season-threatening knee injuries, New York signed Martellus Bennett away from the Cowboys. When Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham decided to move to the Golden Gate city, the Giants drafted David Wilson and Rueben Randle.

    Of course, having arguably the best quarterback in the NFC East helps.


    Super Bowl Odds: Ahmad Bradshaw breaking his foot again

New York Jets

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    Will the grand quarterback experiment work?

    When Tim Tebow landed in the Big Apple, there was big trouble in store for Mark Sanchez. At least that is the pervasive storyline for the Jets this offseason.

    For now, the plan is to get Tebow in the game in the red zone. It sounds like a ludicrous plan, but it might just be crazy enough to work. After all, Tebow scores touchdowns every time he gets in the red zone, right?

    The Jets might have questions on offense, but that defense will be top notch once again. Their biggest weakness might be safety, where newcomers LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell hope to tread water after the Jets decided to let Jim Leonhard walk. An aggressive front with a good defensive backfield will buoy that team once again.


    Super Bowl Odds: The New York media finding out Tebow is not a virgin

Oakland Raiders

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    Were you aware that Carson Palmer practically got up off his couch, unretired, dusted himself off and threw for 2,700-plus yards in just nine games?

    Of course, he threw roughly half that number of interceptions, too, but how much can we expect out of a guy who was thrust into the starting role with minimal time to acclimate with his new team—after un-retiring?

    He has some great talent to throw to in Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and newcomers Juron Criner and Rod Streater. They are so deep at the position that they just traded Louis Murphy for a conditional sandwich.

    Of course, having a healthy Darren McFadden would be a big boon for this offense. They have good depth at the position with Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones, despite losing Michael Bush.

    The Raiders lost plenty of talent in the offseason, mainly on the defense. They hope the additions of Shawntae Spencer, Ron Bartell and Philip Wheeler will help offset those losses.


    Super Bowl Odds: Al Davis running a 4.3 40-yard dash

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Will the Eagles finally pop this season?

    Andy Reid has led his team to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl, but the Big One has eluded the big one. He was nearly fired after an 8-8 season that fell far short of expectations.

    Fortunately, Reid and the Eagles are well-positioned to make that run to a championship they were supposed to make a season ago. The offense is dangerous as long as Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy stay healthy. Hopefully, DeSean Jackson's new contract will have him playing full bore instead of worrying about getting hurt.

    Their main problem was their defense, particularly an interior that was Charmin soft. Getting DeMeco Ryans and drafting Fletcher Cox will help fix that.


    Super Bowl Odds: Vick playing all 16 regular-season games

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    At this point, is it easier to count the years Pittsburgh was not a Super Bowl contender?

    After having their season ended by a Tim Tebow pass, the Steelers simply went about their business and had themselves another good offseason.

    They lost some players to age and free agency, but Pittsburgh had a fine draft. Its main concern was getting the offensive line to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright—he has been sacked more times than Rome since 2006—and it may have succeeded by drafting David DeCastro and Mike Adams with its first two picks.

    The defense is coming off a top-ranked season, having lost an old player in James Farrior and a mediocre one in William Gay. That unit will be just fine.


    Super Bowl Odds: Sweeping Baltimore in revenge

San Diego Chargers

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    The Chargers went 14-2 in Philip Rivers' first season as a starter when they fired Marty Schottenheimer. Three of five seasons under Norv Turner have seen single-digit victories, and San Diego has missed the playoffs the past two.

    Somehow, Turner survived the offseason.

    A slow start could doom the coach, however, and the Chargers have not exactly lit the NFL aflame to start the season in recent years.

    They lost Vincent Jackson and Mike Tolbert, replacing them with Robert Meachem and Le'Ron McClain. Both might be downgrades, but Meachem has been impressive thus far and could be a fantastic fit for this offense. They also retained Jared Gaither, who protected Philip Rivers' blind side well after joining the Chargers last season.

    Adding Jarret Johnson and Melvin Ingram should bolster a defensive line that needed some help. With Peyton Manning in the division, the talent on the Raiders offense and the Chiefs getting healthy, San Diego will need it.


    Super Bowl Odds: Marty Schottenheimer winning the Super Bowl

San Francisco 49ers

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    Roger Craig and Earnest Byner feel Kyle Williams' pain.

    The 49ers wide receiver was pressed into kick-returning duties last season because of an injury to Ted Ginn Jr., and his late fumbles proved to be the difference in a NFC championship slugfest.

    He has been relegated to the back of the depth chart this offseason with the additions in San Francisco. Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and rookie A.J. Jenkins are new in town to go along with Michael Crabtree and Ginn. The 49ers liked Williams last year, so he should be safe on the roster, but he might have to wait some time before seeing the field regularly again.

    Aside from new toys for Alex Smith—who had a resurgent season capped by notched a scintillating comeback win against the Saints in the playoffs—the 49ers return a fantastic defense. They should be right in the thick of it once more.


    Super Bowl Odds: Randy Moss running a 4.3 40-yard dash

Seattle Seahawks

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    One year, 7-9 was good enough to make the playoffs. The next had Seattle picking 12th overall in the draft.

    The Seahawks may not have improved their record, but their defense improved from 27th to ninth last season. They may have gotten even better with the additions of Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner and Jason Jones.

    Offensively, the Seahawks return most of a decent unit, though Marshawn Lynch may be facing a hefty ban after another run-in with the law.

    It all hinges on the quarterback competition between incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and newcomers Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson. If one of them can stand out and stay healthy, the Seahawks could sneak up on the 49ers in the NFC West.


    Super Bowl Odds: Chances of a winter drought in the Pacific Northwest

St. Louis Rams

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    Of all the teams with major changes this offseason, St. Louis might have had the most.

    The Rams brought in Jeff Fisher, who brought in his posse of coaches that included now-exiled Gregg Williams. They proceeded to fix their defense, theoretically, by signing Cortland Finnegan and Kendall Langford and drafting Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins.

    They lost Brandon Lloyd at receiver, but they gained Brian Quick and Chris Givens. Danny Amendola and Austin Pettis will also come back from injury, giving Sam Bradford a fighting chance in this third season.

    If Jeff Fisher can bring a winning mojo to St. Louis in his first season, he might be able to make the city forget about the team's potential relocation, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.


    Super Bowl Odds: Albert Pujols suiting up for the Cardinals again

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Much like in Kansas City, a season of promise quickly turned to one of pain for the Buccaneers last season, after narrowly missing out on a playoff spot in 2010 with a 10-6 record.

    Greg Schiano is the new captain of the ship flying the pewter-and-red Jolly Roger after Raheem Morris' ouster, and he inherits a talented squad.

    Josh Freeman may have regressed, but he had a fantastic sophomore season in 2010. He now has Vincent Jackson to throw to. Stud offensive lineman Carl Nicks also joins the Bucs, which is another positive for Freeman and great news for the run game.


    Super Bowl Odds: NBC renewing Awake

Tennessee Titans

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    The Titans nearly snuck into the playoffs last season. They were left out in the cold due to a tiebreaker, but it was a bit of a surprise from a team featuring a 35-year-old quarterback who had gone 6-10 the previous season.

    Matt Hasselbeck hopes to reprise his role as starter, but he has second-year man Jake Locker breathing down his neck.

    Whoever helms the offense might be without recently arrested Kenny Britt. Fortunately, the Titans drafted talented receiver Kendall Wright with soothsayer-like skill, and they also have Nate Washington, Damien Williams and Jared Cook.

    Chris Johnson has also been working hard to get back to form this offseason—a welcome site for Titans fans and fantasy owners alike.

    Tennessee will have to improve its 18th-ranked defense to crack the postseason, however.


    Super Bowl Odds: Getting Chris Johnson to care about your fantasy football league

Washington Redskins

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    Hope and trepidation.

    Both emotional states are running through the Washington fanbase right now, dueling currents in a sea of burgundy and gold.

    Robert Griffin III brightens the future like he does a room with his smile with a combination of speed, arm strength and an affinity for gaudy socks. 

    The past 20 years have been a dark past for fans, though, with 21 different starting quarterbacks and eight different head coaches slogging through perpetual mediocrity occasionally broken with a playoff appearance.

    Dan Snyder's ownership, in particular, has left fans jaded since he bought the team in 1999. It has been a meddlesome tenure for Snyder, whose short fuse and freewheeling tendencies have made him a pariah in the NFL.

    Things have changed in recent years—however subtly. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have been calling the shots and building depth on this team—a departure from Snyder's obtrusive obtuseness.

    The Redskins are on the right path, but it might take them a while to get to their destination.


    Super Bowl Odds: Avoiding every single political ad through election day