Two more days until the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys officially start the most wonderful time of the year: NFL football. Starting Wednesday night, every team will have the same goal: to reach the 2013 Super Bowl.
While some teams will enter Week 1 with better odds than others to win the Super Bowl, everyone starts with clean slate. Yes, that means even the Cleveland Browns have a chance to hold the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
Here are early championship odds for all 32 NFL teams heading into the regular season.
It is going to be a long season for the Arizona Cardinals, and it appears like this is only the beginning of a string of many hard seasons. Unfortunately, this team is more than one or two pieces away from contending.
The good news, however, is that the Cardinals have one very special player on each side of the ball. On offense, Larry Fitzgerald is easily one of the best receivers in the league, and Patrick Peterson is well on his way to becoming a unique playmaker on the opposite side of the ball.
The bad news for the Cardinals is that there are 20 other players on the field who will hold back both Fitzgerald and Peterson. Things are going to get ugly this year in Arizona, and a trip to the Super Bowl simply isn't happening.
The Miami Dolphins are in a similar state as the Arizona Cardinals, in that they are numerous pieces away from even being considered a decent team in the NFL. What makes them a little better right now is their quarterback situation.
Sure, Ryan Tannehill is likely to have a terrible rookie season, but he has way more potential than either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. The Dolphins are going to need to surround him with better receiving weapons, but if they can do that, they could potentially have a frightening offense.
However, with Tannehill still learning the game without any receivers to throw the ball to, look for this offense to have a hard time consistently moving the ball. Combine this with an unimpressive defense and you have one of the worst teams in the league.
I might be the only person in the world to think this, but I don't think the Cleveland Browns are very far away from being competitive.
For starters, the Browns have a potential All-Pro running back in Trent Richardson to build upon. It won't take long for Richardson to make his mark in the NFL. Additionally, Brandon Weeden, Greg Little and Josh Gordon all have the abilities to make this a quality offense.
On defense, the Browns already have an elite cornerback in Joe Haden and one of the better middle linebackers in D'Qwell Jackson. When Phil Taylor returns from his offseason injury, the defensive line could become a strength for this team.
Overall, Cleveland has some nice pieces on both sides of the ball, but those pieces are going to need some time to develop. They clearly won't be in the 2013 Super Bowl, but we should be talking about this team as a playoff contender sooner rather than later.
It may seem generous to give the Jacksonville Jaguars 100-to-1 odds, but with Maurice Jones-Drew finally returning to the team, as Adam Schefter of ESPN reported, the Jaguars could actually surprise some people this year.
It starts with their underrated defense that is filled with plenty of impact players. Both Jeremy Mincey and Andre Branch have the ability to get to the quarterback at will. With a talented linebacker corps and secondary, this defensive unit should be able to consistently make plays.
The problem with Jacksonville, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. Second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert appears to be more confident in the pocket, and having new targets in Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon should also help his confidence.
With Jones-Drew back, if Gabbert can continue to improve, this team could be a dark-horse Super Bowl candidate within the next year or two.
The only way that the Indianapolis Colts are going to even come close to the Super Bowl this year is if Andrew Luck plays absolutely perfect football. I'm not talking about excellent football; I'm talking about him playing perfectly.
Even then, the Colts are going to need quite a few stars to align for them to be a winning team this year. There are too many holes across the roster for this team to make much of an impact.
However, Luck has looked even better than advertised, and I can't put it past him to have a perfect season. That's why they have 100-to-1 odds and not 500-to-1 odds.
Before you start throwing rocks at your computer about how inaccurate 100-to-1 odds are for the New York Jets, hear me out.
In the past, we've seen Rex Ryan have plenty of dysfunctional teams and make them work. However, this current Jets team has reached a whole new level of insecurity. It started when management brought in Tim Tebow; any conversation begins and ends with the polarizing QB.
There are simply too many issues in New York for the Jets to have any chance at making the Super Bowl this year.
While Robert Griffin III may not be quite as talented as Andrew Luck, the reason he has better odds of winning the Super Bowl this year is because of his supporting cast.
His situation on offense is much better than Luck's, and the defense for the Washington Redskins is light years ahead of the Indianapolis Colts. Players like Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan will help Griffin have a better rookie year than Luck.
It won't be enough to get out of the cellar of the NFC East, but the Redskins should at least be an exciting team to watch this year.
However, if McFadden continues to be one of the most injury-prone players in the league, the entire 2012 season for the Raiders will go down the drain. There simply isn't enough talent without McFadden for this team to be competitive in all 16 games.
Carson Palmer looks like a shell of his former self, and the defense lacks the overall playmakers for this unit to be successful. Having an entire season hinge upon the performance of one player is never a good thing; when that one player has never played a full 16-game season, it is even worse.
There are two reasons that the St. Louis Rams should be optimistic about the upcoming season.
The first reason includes the starting cornerbacks in St. Louis. Both Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins have looked superb in the preseason and could form one of the best cornerback duos in the league.
Secondly, quarterback Sam Bradford looks like he is ready to move past a difficult sophomore season. He's been sharp and is showing great chemistry with both Brian Quick and Lance Kendricks. If this team wants to be successful, they'll need it to run through Bradford, so him looking good is a great sign.
With that said, the Rams still need to improve at a few positions in order for this team to truly be competitive. They will definitely be better than last year, but a division title is still a few years away.
Whenever Adrian Peterson is on your roster, you're going to have a chance to make a splash in your conference. Sure, Peterson is coming off a difficult knee injury, but he still has a 50 percent chance of starting Week 1 for the Minnesota Vikings.
As long as Peterson is at 100 percent early in the season, the Vikings could be a very dangerous team on offense. With Christian Ponder, Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph teaming with Peterson, Minnesota will finally have a quality passing offense to complement their ground game.
The biggest problem for the Vikings is that they play in one of the best divisions in the NFL. Playing six games against the likes of the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers won't be an easy task. In fact, it's likely that they will lose all six of those games, meaning they'd have to go 10-0 against the rest of their opponents to even have a chance to make the playoffs.
This team is certainly moving in the right direction, and a few more successful drafts will put them in a nice, competitive position in the NFC.
There are plenty of people out there who believe that the Kansas City Chiefs are going to be a sleeper team this year, but I'm not one of them.
Yes, they have a fantastic and young defense that could end up being the best in the league. With Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt in the secondary, opposing teams will have a difficult time moving the ball through the air against them.
The problem for this team isn't on the defensive side of the ball, but rather on the offensive side. It's not so much Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis and Dwayne Bowe, as the real problem seems to be quarterback Matt Cassel.
After making the Pro Bowl in 2010, Cassel looked much more average in the first nine games of the 2011 season. If he continues to play at that level, which is a definite possibility, the Chiefs offense won't be able to do enough to win games.
This is a team with a lot of potential, but until they can find a better quarterback, they'll struggle to turn that impact into wins.
Despite having one of the best offseasons in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have a long way to go before being considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
They'll first need Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson to prove they can form chemistry so that the passing offense can actually have success this year. They're also depending on a rookie to carry the majority of the load at running back.
While rookies Mark Barron and Lavonte David will improve the defense, there are still questions along the defensive line. If Tampa Bay can't get pressure from their front four, the rest of their defense will suffer.
The Buccaneers will have no problems winning more games than they did last year, but they still won't win enough to get into the playoffs.
As much as I love what the Buffalo Bills did this offseason, they are still unproven at the most important position on the field: quarterback. I'm not saying that Ryan Fitzpatrick is awful, but he hasn't done enough to prove that he is a Super Bowl quarterback.
He also doesn't have a great group of receivers surrounding him. While Stevie Johnson is a talented receiver, the depth and skill behind him is nothing to brag about. A better quarterback might have more success with this unit, but Fitzpatrick will likely struggle.
The good news for Buffalo is, with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson on the roster, the Bills likely won't rely on the pass too much. Both Spiller and Jackson are dynamic playmakers who are a threat to score every time they touch the ball.
This team should be fine defensively and boast one of the best defensive lines in the league, but until they get a playoff-caliber quarterback on their roster, a Super Bowl is unlikely.
If there is one team I think can really surprise some people this year, it's the Tennessee Titans.
The biggest questions heading into the preseason centered around who would play quarterback and how this defense would perform. Both those questions were answered by Week 3, with the defense looking stout and Jake Locker taking over as starting quarterback.
As long as Locker proves to be the franchise quarterback that Tennessee expects him to be, this team could be dangerous on both sides of the ball. While it is more likely that they'll fall a little short this year, don't be surprised if they at least contend for the AFC South crown.
The 25-to-1 odds for the Carolina Panthers all depend on the development of second-year quarterback Cam Newton.
The biggest area of his game that he needs to improve is his decision making. Too often last year did he rush throws or lock into a single receiver, often resulting in a turnover. As long as he can improve in that area of his game, the Panthers offense will be quite scary.
They'll need to at least split games with the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons to even have a chance at the playoffs, but I don't know if they're capable of that yet. However, this team is built for the future, and their odds of winning the Super Bowl will continue to improve.
This may seem low for a perennial powerhouse like the Pittsburgh Steelers, but there are major questions surrounding this team.
For starters, the offensive line in Pittsburgh looks like the absolute worst in the league. If Ben Roethlisberger can stay upright 50 percent of the time he is on the field, it will be a major accomplishment.
As for the defense, it is another year older, and the Steelers didn't do enough in the 2012 NFL draft for it to continue to be considered one of the better units in the league. While the drop-off in production might not be huge, it will be enough to have them struggling to even make the playoffs.
Until the Steelers can improve their offensive line and inject some youth into their defense, the Steelers simply can't be considered a real Super Bowl contender.
The youth on both sides of the ball is why the Cincinnati Bengals have better odds than the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl this year.
With second-year players Andy Dalton and A.J. Green on offense, the Bengals have franchise players at two of the most important positions on their roster. As long as those two continue to build on their already impressive chemistry, they should be one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the league for the next decade.
As good as their offense has the potential to be, the defense in Cincinnati is even better. Geno Atkins is an absolute stud in the middle, and Rey Maualuga, Nate Clements and Leon Hall are all solid producers.
This team is likely headed for the playoffs again, but I still believe they are a year away from being considered a legitimate championship team.
You're likely thinking I'm crazy for giving the Seattle Seahawks with odds like these with a third-round rookie quarterback, but few defenses will be as exciting to watch as that of the Seahawks this year.
They have skilled players at every level of their defense, and their secondary might have the best collection of talent in the entire NFL. Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman all have the talent to make the Pro Bowl this year. With Chris Clemons, Jason Jones and Bruce Irvin bringing pressure off the edge, look for the Seahawks secondary to make play after play on rushed throws from the quarterback.
While the defense will certainly be one of the best in the league, the only way Seattle is going to make a deep run in the playoffs is if Russell Wilson plays like a seasoned veteran instead of a rookie. If he can manage the game and get the ball into Marshawn Lynch's hands, this team will be very scary to face in the playoffs.
You could stick Peyton Manning on any team in the league and it would automatically have better odds to win the Super Bowl than half the league. And when you put him on a team as talented as the Denver Broncos, those odds become some of the best in the entire NFL.
The defense in Denver will once again be very good. They might not be as dominant as they were last year due to the Broncos moving the ball through the air more, but this is still a top-15 defense regardless.
The only concern with the Broncos is that the key members of their receiving corps—Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker—are still mostly unproven.
However, if Manning can get Thomas and Decker to play up to their full potential, the Broncos are going to be a difficult team to beat. If this team does make it into the playoffs, it will be tough to go against Manning, considering he is running out of time to win championships.
I'd love to give Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints better odds than this, but there are too many off-field issues that the team still has to deal with. Just look at what distractions have done to the New York Jets.
However, because of what Brees brings to the field, the Saints are much better off than the Jets are. They'll still have one of the best offenses in the league and will be able to put up points against any defense.
With the signings of Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne, the Saints defense could also prove to be rather difficult for opposing offenses. In fact, this is one of the most complete Saints teams we've seen in recent memory.
This is going to be a tough team to beat week in and week out, but the penalties this team suffered in the offseason will ultimately catch up to them in the playoffs.
There is no doubt that the Detroit Lions are going to be one of the best offensive teams in the NFL. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson proved last year that they are the best quarterback-receiver combination in the league, and they might even be better this year.
While the offense may be capable of putting up 30 points a game, the defense is also capable of giving up 30 points a game. The biggest issue resides with the secondary, but even the defensive line and linebackers have question marks.
Until the Lions can improve their defense, it will be very hard for this team to win a Super Bowl. Their offense can take them deep into the playoffs, but it won't be able to carry them to the ultimate victory.
The San Diego Chargers are fielding one of the most complete teams we've seen from them in recent years.
The loss of Vincent Jackson will hurt, but Philip Rivers still has Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem and Antonio Gates to throw to. He'll also get Vincent Brown back in the second half of the season, which will add another weapon to his arsenal.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers added two dynamic rookies in the 2012 draft. Both Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes should improve San Diego's defense from day one.
This team needs to be considered a major threat in the AFC due to the talent on both sides of the ball. The big question will be whether Rivers can finally prove to be a valuable quarterback deep in the playoffs. If he can do that, this team certainly has enough talent get to the Super Bowl.
By the end of the season, the Atlanta Falcons might boast the most explosive offense in the entire NFL. No team in the league can say they have a better one-two punch at wide receiver than Roddy White and Julio Jones.
What could ultimately decide the fate of this team is the play of their middle linebacker. They lost Curtis Lofton to the New Orleans Saints, and now they'll need Akeem Dent and Mike Peterson to replace his production. If they're unable to do that, this defense could really struggle against the better offenses in the league.
The Falcons, and especially Matt Ryan, are going to need to prove that they can actually win in the playoffs, but I believe this will be the year they do that. They'll definitely surpass the Saints as the better team in the NFC South, and a Super Bowl appearance is certainly a possibility.
I really wanted to give the Baltimore Ravens worse odds, but despite their age, this is still one of the best defenses in the league. Combine that with a dangerous ground game and solid passing game, and it is hard to not give the Ravens good odds to win the Super Bowl.
While I do believe the defense will take a step back this year due to the increased age of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the Ravens still have young and talented players across the defense. Guys like Lardarius Webb, Haloti Ngata and Jimmy Smith are all game-changing players.
The offense is still going to run through Ray Rice, but look for Joe Flacco to get a chance to prove that he is the long-term answer in Baltimore. He'll have help on the outside with Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, but Flacco needs to prove that he can consistently get the ball in the hands of his playmakers.
The Ravens should win the AFC North, and as long as fatigue doesn't hinder some of their older players in the postseason, a Super Bowl victory is a good possibility.
Considering how prone to injuries Michael Vick is, it might be surprising to see the Philadelphia Eagles with odds this good. However, if—and it really should be when—Vick gets injured, the Eagles finally have a capable replacement in Nick Foles.
Foles has been the darling of the preseason and should be capable of keeping this team going should Vick miss some games. With LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek, this offense has the potential to be one of the best in the league.
The defense should also be much improved from last year. The secondary and defensive line will continue to be some of the best in the NFL, and the Eagles did what they needed to improve their linebacker corps.
Despite playing in one of the deepest divisions in the NFL, the Eagles still have enough talent to not only win the NFC East, but to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. It will hinge mostly on the health of Vick, but as long as he isn't gone for an extended period of time, this team should still be fine.
For years, the Chicago Bears have had a great defense and a mediocre offense. Even when they upgraded their quarterback to Jay Cutler, they failed to surround him with the playmakers he needed to make this offense better.
Now that Cutler has Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to throw to, the offense in Chicago will finally be up to par. In fact, the offense might actually be a bit better than the defense.
While Brian Urlacher is expected to start in Week 1, there are still questions to how much of an impact he'll be able to make with his knee injury. He's the unquestioned leader of this defense, and if he isn't playing at 100 percent, the whole unit could suffer.
Look for the Bears to be in the thick of the NFC North this year. Even if they don't win, they're still likely to make the playoffs. If they can get some momentum late in the season, they could very well ride that to a Super Bowl victory.
I'm quite a bit higher on the Dallas Cowboys than a lot of other people, but it is hard to not like them when you look at the completeness of the roster. Seriously, try and point out one truly weak spot.
The only place you could potentially point would be the offensive line, but even that unit has the ability to be very strong this year. The Cowboys have put together quite the team in 2012, and it is evident when you look across the depth chart.
What will ultimately decide the fate of this team is how clutch Tony Romo is when it matters. Are we going to see the Romo who won a game with a cracked rib or the Romo who botched a snap and lost the team a game in the playoffs?
If we see the former, there is no reason why the Cowboys shouldn't be Super Bowl champions come February.
When you pair one of the best defenses in the league with an explosive offense, you have a great chance at winning the Super Bowl.
One look at the Houston Texans depth chart and it is easy to see why this team is now considered elite. There simply aren't holes on either side of the football for opposing teams to exploit.
This is the first year that you can honestly say that Houston is the best team in Texas and that they have a better chance than the Dallas Cowboys at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year.
Despite having the best defense in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers offense is what should be really exciting their fans this year.
The offense has never been extremely strong in San Francisco, and while it improved last year quite a bit, it was a long way from being considered a great offense. However, that might change this year with all the new weapons the 49ers brought in.
It started with Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs as free-agent signings. Then they added LaMichael James and A.J. Jenkins through the 2012 NFL draft. Now they have numerous weapons to play with and an offense that could border on elite.
If the 49ers offense can really become one of the better units in the league, there are very few teams that could beat them.
There are simply too many questions on defense for the Green Bay Packers to have the best odds of winning the 2013 Super Bowl.
While they addressed some of their defensive issues during the draft, we won't really know how big of an impact those players will have until the regular season rolls around. With that said, if Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy can improve the Packers' issues with getting pressure on the quarterback, the defense in Green Bay could become a strong point this year.
The offense is already world class, so a trip to the Super Bowl is pretty much riding on the defense. As long as all the talent on that side of the ball lives up to their potential, the Packers could be bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay for the second time in three years.
The New York Giants will enter the 2012 season with a gigantic target their back. Every team will want to beat the defending Super Bowl champion and will be playing at 110 percent against them.
While this will make the regular season extremely difficult for the Giants, it will also help when they get into the playoffs. They'll be battle tested and ready to perform at the highest level at the most important time of the season.
We already know that Eli Manning is more than capable of playing up to the pressure of the Super Bowl, so New York has to feel confident heading into the 2012 season. The last time we saw a team win back-to-back Super Bowls was back in 2004 and 2005 with the New England Patriots, but we could definitely see the Giants do it this year.
The team with the best odds of winning the 2013 Super Bowl is the New England Patriots. Their defense might not be the best in the league, but the offense is going to be otherworldly.
One look at the receiving options that Tom Brady has should give every defense in the league nightmares. If teams try to slow down Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, Brady will have Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd to throw to. In fact, this passing offense is so good that we could very well see a number of records broken this year.
Until Brady retires from New England, the Patriots will always have some of the best odds to win the Super Bowl. He's simply that good of a player, and this might be one of the best overall teams he's ever played with.
That should be a very scary thought for the rest of the league, as the Patriots will likely steamroll into the playoffs and the 2013 Super Bowl.