The intrigue surrounding the 2012-2013 season is over: The Baltimore Ravens have won Super Bowl XLVII. The time has now come to look forward to 2014, to New York and to a new champion.
You can expect both the Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers to be right back in the thick of things, while plenty of other teams should be repeats in the playoffs as well. The New York Giants deserve special notice, hoping to be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
Let's take a look at the logistics of the game, along with the teams most likely to play in the 2014 Super Bowl.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
When: February 2, 2014
5. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens will look a lot different next year, but their offense should return largely intact. With Jim Caldwell calling the plays, the Ravens offense should be deadly, but the defense will be a concern as they try to defend their title.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck will only get better in his second year, as the Colts have shown a knack for drafting in the new regime. Their talent level should improve, and they are really one good offseason away from being real Super Bowl contenders.
3. Houston Texans
Brian Cushing will be back and healthy for the Texans next season, which should make a big difference on that defense. Whether or not Matt Schaub is a Super Bowl quarterback, though, remains to be seen.
2. New England Patriots
Like every year, the Patriots will once again be Super Bowl contenders. They should easily rack up 12 wins again and make a deep playoff run. They've struggled to capitalize in the big games lately, though, so they are not the favorite.
1. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning and the Broncos may have collapsed this season, but they remain the most talented team in the NFL. As long as Manning stays healthy and that defense remains solid, the Broncos should be the AFC front-runner.
5. New York Giants
As long as Eli Manning is under center, the Giants have a chance. The Giants are still a tremendously talented team, despite their late collapse this season. They need an attitude adjustment to get back to the big game, though.
4. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is one of just a few quarterbacks who keeps his team in the game no matter what. Rodgers is elite, but the rest of the team is not. The defense was better this season, but the Packers' poor running game cost them this season. Can they fix it to get to New York?
3. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and Sean Payton will reunite, meaning big things for New Orleans. If the defense improves even marginally, the Saints will once again be among the NFL's best teams.
2. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson is a legit star, while the Seahawks running game and defense are both among the NFL's best. This is a team without a weakness, and if Wilson takes the next step, this will be one of the best teams in the NFL.
1. San Francisco 49ers
From top to bottom, the 49ers have the best roster in the NFL, and they now have a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. He played well in Sunday's game, despite the loss, and he gives the 49ers hope for years to come. They will be NFC front-runners on a regular basis over the next several years.
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