Super Bowl 2014: Teams with the Best Shot at XLVIII
There were plenty of great teams who made it into the 2013 postseason, with many Super Bowl favorites being eliminated in disappointing fashion.
With a whole offseason to prepare, you better believe each team will be finding a way to fix its holes and take that next step toward Super Sunday for the 2013-14 season.
From New England to Seattle, here are some of the top teams with the best shot at Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.
(Vegas odds provided by MGM odds via the Denver Post)
San Francisco 49ers (Vegas Odds: 5-1)
The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl this year, and even though they lost they have to be considered early favorites for next year.
San Francisco will retain the core of its team, with its only possible big free-agent loss being safety Dashon Goldson.
Will the 49ers return to the Super Bowl next season?
The 49ers' biggest question mark is if they can retain success on offense. But with another year under his belt, Colin Kaepernick is sure to be better next season.
He should be adding more weapons to his arsenal as well, with LaMichael James being a second-year player and 2012 draft pick A.J. Jenkins finally breaking onto the roster.
Jim Harbaugh should also have no problems retooling his team's flaws. The draft is deep in defensive players, and the expected Alex Smith trade could garner some talent as well.
All-in-all, San Francisco made a great run in 2012-13, but fell short in a fantastic Super Bowl. With some fixes here and there, they have a great chance at NFL glory next season.
Denver Broncos (Vegas Odds: 5-1)
After a slow start to the 2012 season, Denver dominated its way down the stretch. And if not for a defensive lapse in coverage, the Broncos could have made it to the AFC Championship—and possibly the Super Bowl.
Denver was a great team this season, and Peyton Manning completely turned around that offense.
The Broncos retain their pass-rushing core for next season, which includes arguably the NFL's best pass-rushing linebacker in Von Miller.
With all the big pieces in place—a franchise quarterback and a dominant pass rush—the Broncos have a great chance at finding their way into next year's Super Bowl.
New England Patriots (Vegas Odds: 7-1)
Once again the New England Patriots made a run at the Super Bowl, and once again the team fell short of its goal.
Will Wes Welker return to New England in 2013-14?
The Pats could take a big hit this offseason, with Wes Welker, Aqib Talib and Sebastian Volmer all set to be free agents.
But the chances of Bill Belichick letting his team fall apart are slim.
The guru of a coach will find some way to get Tom Brady, his weapons and—with a strong crop of defensive linemen free agents—he could look to upgrade that pass rush as well.
As long as they can stay healthy in 2013—and still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick—the Patriots have to be considered a favorite for the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers (Vegas Odds: 7-1)
The Packers had a tough finish to their 2012 season, becoming Colin Kaepernick's first victims in the NFC playoffs.
Green Bay has plenty of decisions to make this offseason, with Donald Driver set to retire and Greg Jennings becoming a free agent.
But the real concern is finding a running back to establish the ground game. The draft is fairly thin in that respect, and the Packers will have a hard time finding a man for the job.
Still, as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center the Packers will remain a Super Bowl threat.
Houston Texans (Vegas Odds: 10-1)
The Houston Texans were arguably the most complete team in 2012. Not only did they have an elite offense, but also a stout defense.
Houston's only big issue is depth in the secondary, as it gave up too many big plays down the middle of the field this season. But with a deep draft, it's in a great position to land a solid safety or corner.
With Matt Schaub getting over the playoff-game hump, and J.J. Watt's meteoric rise into the NFL's defensive elite, the Texans are bound to contend next season.
Which team wins the AFC North in 2013-14?
Baltimore Ravens (Vegas Odds: 10-1)
The Ravens took the NFL playoffs by storm this season, but things won't be as easy next year.
Still, John Harbaugh will find a way to hold his team together heading into next season. As 2013 Super Bowl champions, the Ravens have to be given plenty of respect for 2013-14.
Seattle Seahawks (Vegas Odds (10-1)
The Seahawks were an ill-called timeout away from heading to the NFC Championship Game this postseason, and you better believe they'll be looking to fix that mistake next season.
Seattle will retain its defensive core, which is one of the best in the NFL. Plus, quarterback Russell Wilson will have another year under his belt.
While they don't have the flashiest squad in the NFL, the fact remains that the Hawks get the job done. Expect another big playoff run in 2014.
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