NFL Predictions: Each Team's Chances of Winning the Super Bowl
The 2012 NFL season has been one characterized by many surprises as well as spotty officiating. Still, with about one-third of the season having played out, it's a good time to look at the chances for each team winning it all.
Most teams have played five games so far this season, so we have a good sample size regarding which teams are pretenders and which are contenders.
The following takes a look at each team's likelihood of winning the Super Bowl this year, starting with the team that has the least chance and ending with the best.
32-28: Teams with No Chance
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The outlook of these five teams will keep them playing for pride very soon, if not already.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-5): While rookie running back Trent Richardson has finally brought the Browns some much needed explosiveness, this team still has many issues. They are the only winless team in the NFL due to the fact they don't have much of a passing game, and their defense is getting walked all over by the opposition.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4): Blaine Gabbert looked like he might start a remarkable turnaround this season after his Week 1 performance, but the Jaguars offense has gone nowhere since then. The team has potent weapons in Justin Blackmon and Maurice Jones-Drew, but they don't mean anything if Gabbert can't move the ball.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4): The cheering of the fans after starting quarterback Matt Cassel was hurt last week tells you all you need to know about the Chiefs chances this season. Jamaal Charles is running like a man possessed, but football is a team sport, not a one-man show.
29. New York Jets (2-3): This placing might seem a little harsh considering this team made two AFC Championship games not that long ago, but they are lucky to even have two wins this season. With Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis on injured reserve, only the likes of Tim Tebow can keep this team afloat—and he's not getting enough snaps.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-3): Hope was high in Raider Nation heading into this year after they came close to winning the division last year, but the team has looked abysmal. Consistency issues and rankings near the bottom in almost every stat has this team swimming at the bottom of the AFC west.
27-20: Not All Hope Is Lost
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These eight teams don't have a great chance of making the playoffs, but there are at least a few things working in their favor.
27. Buffalo Bills (2-3): It wasn't too long ago the Bills had a 21-7 lead on the New England Patriots and a chance to put a stranglehold on the AFC East. The problem is that in the three halves following that lead, they have been outscored 76-10 by their opponents. Buffalo has some talent on offense, but needs to improve their defense if they want to put together a comprehensive season.
26. Tennesee Titans (2-4): The Titans showed what they are capable of on national television this week, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in a close game. They have allowed a lot of points, but if running back Chris Johnson can get on track and Jake Locker can get healthy, this team can surprise some people.
25. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-3): New head coach Greg Schiano has brought a new regime to the table in Tampa Bay, but it's taking them some time to get used to it. This team will likely go as quarterback Josh Freeman goes, as he has some good weapons on offense, but is mired by inconsistency.
24. Carolina Panthers (1-4): A bye week might do wonders for struggling sophomore quarterback Cam Newton. Newton was one of the most electric players in the league last year, but is really letting his mind get to him as the struggles get worse and worse.
23. New Orleans Saints (1-4): The 2009 Champions have clearly missed head coach Sean Payton this season (suspension). They finally got on the board last week against a talented Chargers team and you still feel like they have the ability to make a big run behind stalwart quarterback Drew Brees.
22. St. Louis Rams (3-2): Playing in a tough NFC West this year, the injury to wide receiver Danny Amendola should have this team sinking fast. He is far and away Sam Bradford's favorite target, and the team has already struggled to score points.
21. Arizona Cardinals (4-1): While the Cardinals did win their first four games this season, last week's dud against the Rams is probably more of what we will see as the season goes on. They are without their top two running backs and aren't in the Top 10 in any of the four main team categories. Special teams can only go so far.
20. Detroit Lions (1-3): A year after starting 4-0, Matthew Stafford and company have not had the same magic. Calvin "Megatron" Johnson has yet to get going, however, and the possible return of Jahvid Best may give this team the most hope of any one-win team in the league.
19-10: Just Hanging Around
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The last two seasons saw the Super Bowl Champions struggle at first, just make the playoffs, then march through competitors to the Super Bowl. That's what these nine teams are hoping to accomplish.
19. Miami Dolphins (2-3): Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been better than expected and the Dolphins rush defense is ranked in the Top 5 in the league. If Reggie Bush can get fully healthy after his team's bye, this team will make some noise in the second half of the season.
18. Indianapolis Colts (2-2): Who would have thought that Andrew Luck would have similar numbers to Aaron Rodgers at this point in the season and beat him going head to head? Reggie Wayne looks as good as ever and this team has proven to be much more than just a re-builder.
17. Washington Redskins (2-3): If this team can somehow shore up its passing defense, they can soar to the top of the NFC East. Rookies Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III lead one of the most potent rushing attacks in the league.
16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2): After looking absolutely amazing in defeating the defending champion New York Giants on opening night, Dallas has looked putrid. The Cowboys' biggest issue is with the offensive line giving no time to Tony Romo to throw or no lanes for the talented DeMarco Murray to run through. They have some of the best talent in the league, but can't put it all together.
15.San Diego Chargers (3-2): Phillip Rivers has had a nice bounce back season thus far, but all of San Diego's wins have been against weaker opponents. If Ryan Matthews can stay healthy and hang onto the ball, they will be a force to be reckoned with, however.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2): The emergence of AJ Green has really made an impact on this team, but the Bengals have taken advantage of a weaker schedule thus far. They are in the middle of the road in most categories.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3): The Steelers are dealing with some age and injury issues, but when you have Ben Roethlisberger and his weapons, you are going to be in the playoff conversation. They will not go winless on the road this season, either.
12. Minnesota Vikings (4-1): The Vikings are one of the biggest surprises so far this season, and it remains to be seen if they can keep it up. The health of Adrian Peterson is crucial, obviously, but it's good to see they are finally starting to take full advantage of Percy Harvin. The emergence of Christian Ponder and strong special teams play have also helped this team.
11. Denver Broncos (2-3): Slow starts in games and a tough schedule thus far have limited the Broncos to two wins. Peyton Manning is starting to figure out his new team, though, and a favorable schedule down the stretch makes Denver a team to watch.
10-3: On the Outside Looking in
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While it wouldn't be a surprise to see any of these teams make the Super Bowl, all eight of these teams have some issues that could keep them from advancing to the final game.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2): The Eagles sit atop the NFC West at the moment, but it won't last if Michael Vick can't stop turning the ball over. They have only 80 points to show for all of the yardage they've been able to rack up. Oh, did I forget to mention that Vick can't stay healthy?
9. Chicago Bears (4-1): The acquisition of Brandon Marshall has helped make the Bears just as potent on offense as they are on defense. The problem here is that Jay Cutler has not proven to us he can be trusted in the biggest moments.
8. Seattle Seahawks (3-2): Defense and a strong running game are good recipes for success, and that is what Seattle is all about. Marshawn Lynch is one of the best backs in the league and no one wants to go up against Seattle's defense. The key for this team will be if their quarterback can do enough when it counts the most.
7. Green Bay Packers (2-3): Something has seemed a little off with Green Bay this year, but there is time to right the ship. It's essentially the same team that won the 2010 Super Bowl and went 15-1 in the regular season last year. The injury to Cedric Benson won't help, but you feel like Aaron Rodgers will eventually figure it out.
6. New York Giants (3-2): The Giants have struggled within the division this year, but Eli Manning is playing at an elite level. If Hakeem Nicks can come back fully healthy, this team should make another run.
5. Atlanta Falcons (5-0): Atlanta's offense has looked absolutely unstoppable in winning its first five games this season. This team has yet to prove themselves in the playoffs under Matt Ryan, however, and needs to shore up its rushing defense if they want to win it all.
4. New England Patriots (3-2): This team got off to a little bit of a rocky start this season, but responded in a big way to re-take the AFC East lead. The Patriots finally have a running game this season, which could really do some wonders come January.
3. Houston Texans (5-0): The loss of Brian Cushing for the season is not a good sign for Houston. The Texans have one of the more balanced attacks in the NFL, but injuries were the same thing that hurt them last year, as quarterback Matt Schaub was out for the playoffs.
2-1: The Super Bowl Matchup
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(It's all about the Harbaugh's)
2. San Francisco 49ers (4-1): San Francisco just barely missed out on playing for the Super Bowl last season, and have added to its receiving corps this season with Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. The Niners' defense might be the best in the NFL, and they also run the ball very well. Quarterback Alex Smith proved himself in last season's playoffs, and this team is primed to make a deep run.
1. Baltimore Ravens (4-1): The Ravens have been knocking on the door for so long now, and their window of opportunity might be closing with some of their aging veterans on defense. Joe Flacco continues to make strides and pairs with Ray Rice to make for a formidable offense. Provided Terrell Suggs comes back as expected, this team is as good a bet as any to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.