NFL Playoffs: Who's the Super Bowl Favorite on the Eve of the Playoffs?
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The NFL postseason field is set. Six teams in each division will compete for the rights to go to New Orleans and play in Super Bowl XLVII.
All the action kicks off tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET when the Cincinnati Bengals hit the road to take on the AFC's No. 3 seed Houston Texans. And from the opening kickoff of the first game, it's anyone's guess as to what will happen in this year's edition of the NFL playoffs.
But before the playoffs start, who is the current favorite to win the Super Bowl?
According to VegasInsider.com (via USA Today), it's the Denver Broncos at 2-1 odds.
Who is the Super Bowl favorite?
Peyton Manning has been sensational in his return from neck surgery, making top targets Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker rise to the NFL's top tier of wide receivers. But perhaps what's most impressive about this Broncos team is their defense, which is built to play with a lead.
Second-year linebacker Von Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil are relentless pass-rushers. When Manning builds a lead, Miller and Dumervil pin their ears back and get after the passer.
Miller recorded 18.5 sacks in the regular season, while Dumervil racked up 11. Both players forced six fumbles on the season as well.
The Broncos defense is built to play the pass. Champ Bailey is still playing at a high level in his 14th season, and second-year pro Chris Harris has been the unsung hero of Denver's defense. Both Harris and Bailey grade out in the top 10 of the NFL's cornerbacks this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
On the eve of the playoffs, the AFC appears to be a top-heavy conference. Crazy things can happen, but right now, it looks like it'll be either the No. 1 seed Broncos or the No. 2 seed Patriots representing the AFC in New Orleans.
But on the NFC side, any number of different things could happen.
The hottest team in the NFC may be the Seattle Seahawks, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. But as a No. 5 seed, the Seahawks will have to get past the Washington Redskins on the road if they want to chase a Super Bowl.
Seattle's division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, appear to have as good a shot as anyone in the NFC at making it to New Orleans. Led by linebacker Patrick Willis, the 49ers have the best front seven in football, forcing opponents to become one-dimensional on offense. But if the Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday at Lambeau Field, the 49ers would be tested by the Packers next week in San Francisco.
The Packers started the season 2-3 and despite being decimated by injuries, have played themselves into position to contend for a second Super Bowl in three seasons. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in football, and this team is the healthiest its been in a long time. Charles Woodson and Randall Cobb are expected to return just in time for this weekend's game against the Vikings.
Green Bay may be the most dangerous team in the NFC right now. And had they won last week against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers would be a trendy Super Bowl pick.
Add the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons into the mix, and the NFC could be four-team race to New Orleans.
With a cluttered NFC and an AFC that is coming more and more into focus, logic would suggest that the Super Bowl "favorite" should come from the AFC. Denver and New England played earlier this season, with the Patriots winning handily before a late Broncos comeback made it close.
If the Patriots and Broncos meet again, Denver will be better prepared. Manning still wasn't 100 percent on Oct. 7, and Denver's defense has improved since the first meeting.
It would be an incredible story if Manning won the Super Bowl after missing an entire season in 2012. A lot can change once the postseason kicks off, but the Broncos look like the "favorites" on the eve of the NFL playoffs.
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