Updated Super Bowl Odds for Every NFL Team Heading into Week 5

Nick Kostos@@thekostosContributor IOctober 2, 2013

Updated Super Bowl Odds for Every NFL Team Heading into Week 5

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    The first quarter of the season is behind us, and for the most part, each team's Super Bowl odds have changed since Week 1. 

    Some teams (hello, New Orleans!) find themselves higher on the list, while others (what's up, Giants?) find themselves careening toward the bottom.

    And for the first time in recent memory, one team doesn't even find itself with Super Bowl odds at all. One guess as to which that squad is...*coughJacksonvillecough*.

    With a tasty menu of games on the horizon, here are the updated Super Bowl odds for every NFL team heading into Week 5, courtesy of Bovada.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images


    There are no odds listed for the Jacksonville Jaguars' Super Bowl odds, which is Vegas' way of saying that there is a 0 percent chance of the Jaguars winning the title.

    Think about that. A 0 percent chance. Zero. None. Zip. Nada. Bubkus. Zilch.

    Vegas could set the odds at 75,000,000/1, and you could plunk a dollar down and not even watch the rest of the season and feel supremely confident in winning the bet.

    The 0-4 Jaguars have been outscored 129-31. They are dead last in total offense. And they just traded their starting left tackle, Eugene Monroe, to the Baltimore Ravens for third-day draft picks, per ESPN.

    The move to trade Monroe is, believe it or not, an excellent decision by general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley. Monroe's contract expires after the season, and the team selected its left tackle of the future, Luke Joeckel, with the second overall pick of April's draft. Jacksonville wasn't going to retain Monroe, so Caldwell and Bradley did a nice job in getting some value back in the deal.

    With or without Monroe, the Jaguars are an awful, awful football team. The only question is whether they'll match the 2008 Lions and go 0-16.

    I'd like to see the odds on that wager.

    Next game: at St. Louis Rams

Oakland Raiders

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Odds: 750/1

    The Oakland Raiders' 24-14 home loss to the Redskins dropped the team's record to 1-3, which isn't a surprise, given how poor the 53-man roster is.

    What is surprising, though, is what coach Dennis Allen said after the game.

    Allen, forced to start backup quarterback Matt Flynn due to the concussion Terrelle Pryor suffered in Week 3, was blunt in his assessment of Flynn, saying he "didn't play well." Flynn completed 21 of his 32 passes for 227 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and he also took seven sacks.

    The criticism of Flynn could have been a veiled shot at general manager Reggie McKenzie, who brought Flynn to Oakland after the two had spent time together as part of the Packers. Allen likely knows his roster isn't good enough to win, and if Pryor doesn't play, the team has no chance.

    The Raiders surely hope Pryor will be back in the starting lineup when the team hosts the Chargers.

    Next game: San Diego (11:35 p.m. ET start due to Oakland A's playoff baseball)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Winslow Townson/Getty Images

    Odds: 500/1

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' ship continued to sink on Sunday with a 13-10 home loss to the Cardinals. And with it, coach Greg Schiano's time to walk the plank appears to be drawing nearer.

    Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, recently anointed the starter over a benched Josh Freeman, didn't look the part of an NFL signal-caller, throwing two hideous interceptions to the Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson. Running back Doug Martin also couldn't get going in the game, carrying the ball 27 times for only 45 yards.

    0-4 Tampa Bay is a disaster right now, both on and off the field. The drama surrounding the team's benching of Freeman has more twists and turns than a daytime soap opera, and the Bucs have somehow managed to turn Freeman into a sympathetic figure. It's probably been their biggest success of the season, which says something about something.

    The Bucs now have a bye week to figure things out. The only question is, will they spend the time working on fixing what's happening on the field or discrediting Freeman off of it?

    Forget the Super Bowl. Forget the playoffs. The only drama remaining in Tampa Bay is where in the top 10 of 2014's draft it will be selecting from and who the next coach will be.

    Next game: Philadelphia (Week 6)

St. Louis Rams

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    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 300/1

    The St. Louis Rams' Week 1 come-from-behind victory over the Arizona Cardinals seems like eons ago. They have been an epic disappointment ever since.

    St. Louis is now 1-3 in a year in which it was expected to break through and contend for a playoff berth. The Rams were crushed at home last Thursday night by the 49ers, 35-13, in a game that showed just how large the divide between the two teams is.

    Quarterback Sam Bradford looked lost, and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer appears overmatched. The defense, expected to be the team's strength, has been atrocious, leading defensive end Chris Long to call the unit "disgusting," via Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated

    Thankfully for coach Jeff Fisher and Co., the Rams will surely get back on track as they welcome the utterly inept Jaguars to town on Sunday.

    Next game: Jacksonville

Buffalo Bills

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    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 200/1

    Things were looking rosy for the Bills early in the second half of Thursday night’s game at Cleveland.

    Running back C.J. Spiller finally broke off a long touchdown run, fellow back Fred Jackson ran in a score, and Buffalo held a 24-17 lead.

    Then, the wheels came off. Starting quarterback EJ Manuel was knocked out of the game, and Buffalo collapsed, ultimately falling 37-24 to Cleveland.

    Afterwards, coach Doug Marrone revealed that Manuel suffered a sprained knee. It’s unclear how much time, if any, Manuel will miss.

    It was an awful loss for the Bills that dropped their record to 2-3. Manuel didn’t play particularly well before the injury, and Buffalo’s special teams were atrocious.

    While the team has some bright spots, notably rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, it doesn’t appear as if the Bills will be able to muster up a legitimate run at the postseason.

    Next game: Cincinnati (Week 6)

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 150/1

    The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped to 0-4 with a 34-27 loss against the Minnesota Vikings in London, further exposing the obvious: They aren't a good football team.

    In fact, Pittsburgh is among the worst teams in the league and currently sits two games behind Cleveland, Baltimore and Cincinnati in the AFC North.

    The defense still has yet to force a turnover and, along with offensive line, has been the main failing of the club.

    Pittsburgh isn't a Super Bowl contender and has little to no chance of mustering up a run to the postseason. Consider this a lost season in the Steel City.

    Next game: at N.Y. Jets (Week 6)

New York Jets

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    Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 150/1

    The New York Jets suffered through their worst game of the season this past Sunday, a 38-13 demolition in Tennessee. 

    It was a disconcerting outing for rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who turned the ball over four times in the defeat. Smith must take better care of the football if the Jets are to have any hope of winning games.

    The Jets defense has played very well, though, and the unit is ranked third overall. Coach Rex Ryan deserves credit for the defense and for the team's surprising 2-2 record, as many expected Gang Green to be among the worst teams in football.

    The Jets aren't a playoff contender, but if Smith can flash signs of a franchise quarterback, 2013 could be a building-block year for the team.

    Next game: at Atlanta (Monday Night Football)

New York Giants

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 150/1

    Pathetic. Embarrassing. Disgraceful. Atrocious.

    These are all adjectives to describe the 2013 New York Giants, and the season doesn't show any signs of turning around.

    The team was blown out again this past Sunday, losing 31-7 in Kansas City. The offense has now scored a grand total of seven points in the last eight quarters. 

    The Giants can't run the ball, they can't protect quarterback Eli Manning and the defense is horrendous. Aside from that, though, the team is great.

    General manager Jerry Reese must take a hit for the awful start. Seriously, go up and down the 53-man roster. How many good players do the Giants have? Not many.

    While Big Blue is only two games out of the division lead, forget about a playoff berth this season. The Giants are dead in the water.

    Next game: Philadelphia 

Minnesota Vikings

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 150/1

    It took a trip to London, but the Minnesota Vikings finally broke into the win column, downing the Steelers 34-27 at Wembley Stadium to improve their record to 1-3.

    Backup quarterback Matt Cassel, filling in for an injured Christian Ponder, sparkled against an awful Pittsburgh defense, completing 16 of his 25 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Despite that effort, coach Leslie Frazier is still rolling with Ponder as his starter, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today. But if Ponder continues to struggle after the team's Week 5 bye, don't be shocked if Cassel is installed as "The Guy."

    Minnesota still has an opportunity to reach the postseason for the second consecutive year, but it will need to fashion together a winning streak to make it happen.

    Next game: Carolina (Week 6)

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 100/1

    The magical first half against the Redskins in Week 1 on Monday Night Football seems like it was years ago, as coach Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles have yet to match the play of the season's opening thirty minutes in the three-and-a-half games since.

    The latest debacle was a 52-20 drubbing at the hands of the Denver Broncos, a game in which Denver was never truly threatened.

    The Eagles are now ranked second overall in total offense and dead last in total defense, a ridiculous disparity. While that fact isn't totally unexpected, it speaks to the gigantic chasm separating the two units, and the defense shows no signs of improving anytime soon.

    Still, thanks to the pitiful NFC East, Philadelphia finds itself only a game out of first place, with a road date against the terrible Giants looming.

    Next game: at N.Y. Giants

Arizona Cardinals

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 100/1

    A win is a win, but the Cardinals were not impressive in their 13-10 victory over Tampa Bay that evened their record at 2-2.

    The offense didn't wake up until the fourth quarter, scoring all 13 of the team's points in the final 15 minutes, and cornerback Patrick Peterson had two critical interceptions to help seal the victory.

    If the Cardinals play with that kind of effort on Sunday against the Panthers, they will most certainly lose.

    Arizona isn't a Super Bowl contender, and it likely won't make any noise in the NFC race either.

    Next game: Carolina

Washington Redskins

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 66/1

    The Washington Redskins finally broke into the win column with a 24-14 victory over the Raiders last Sunday, putting their record at 1-3.

    Despite its early-season struggles, Washington finds itself only a game out of first place in the NFC East and looms as a dangerous team in that division, with quarterback Robert Griffin III looking better by the week as he continues to recover from his torn ACL.

    But if the Redskins are going to contend for a playoff berth, they'll need a significantly better effort from their defense, which has played hideous football through the season's opening quarter. The unit is ranked 31st overall, and that's not good enough for a club with postseason visions dancing through its head like sugar plums.

    There's a very real possibility that the Redskins Week 6 contest in Dallas could be for first place in the division, with the 2-2 Cowboys likely set to lose on Sunday to the Broncos.

    Next game:  at Dallas (Week 6)

Tennessee Titans

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    Odds: 66/1

    The Tennessee Titans continue to defy expectations, improving their record to 3-1 with a 38-13 beatdown of the Jets.

    Unfortunately for Tennessee, the victory was of the Pyrrhic fashion, as, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, quarterback Jake Locker is expected to miss at least a month following a hip injury he suffered during the game.

    Backup signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick will take the reins in Locker's absence. While he isn't the kind of player you want starting all 16 games, he is a very capable backup. Fitzpatrick's task will be daunting, though, as the Titans' next three games are against the 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs, the 4-0 Seattle Seahawks and the 2-2 San Francisco 49ers. 

    If the Titans can make it out of that stretch at 4-3, they'll be in position to make a wild-card run.

    Next game: Kansas City

San Diego Chargers

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    Odds: 66/1

    How about the plucky 2-2 San Dieog Chargers? New coach Mike McCoy has done a phenomenal job coaxing maximum effort out of his roster, and quarterback Philip Rivers is in the midst of a career renaissance that would make Galileo jealous.

    San Diego scored the final 20 points of Sunday's 30-21 win over the Cowboys to even its record. The Chargers could be the season's biggest surprise thus far, as the talent on the roster just isn't there. It doesn't help matters that pass-rusher Dwight Freeney and receiver Malcom Floyd were each placed on season-ending injured reserve, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.

    Despite that lack of talent, the team has been in every game and could easily be 4-0 if not for late-game collapses against Houston and Tennessee.

    The team has an excellent opportunity to improve to 3-2 with Sunday's game against the Raiders. While the Chargers aren't a threat to win the AFC West and probably won't make the playoffs, the first quarter of the season has been a rousing success.

    Next game: at Oakland

Cleveland Browns

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 66/1

    Remember when people were writing off the Cleveland Browns' 2013 season, saying that the franchise was clearly putting all of its eggs in the basket of the 2014 draft?

    Well, someone forgot to send that memo to coach Rob Chudzinski and the rest of the Browns, who have looked mighty impressive with three consecutive victories, the last coming in the form of a 37-24 pounding of the Bills on Thursday Night Football

    The Browns are now 3-2, and Cleveland—yes, Cleveland—is in sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

    Unfortunately for Cleveland, they’ll have to go the rest of the way without starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, who tore his ACL in the win over Buffalo. Brandon Weeden will take over as the Browns’ starting signal-caller.

    The loss of Hoyer is significant, but shouldn’t put a damper on what’s been a massively successful opening five-game stretch of the season in Cleveland. The Browns aren’t a Super Bowl contender, especially without Hoyer, but expect them to be in the thick of the playoff race all season long.

    Next game: Detroit (Week 6)

Carolina Panthers

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 66/1

    The Carolina Panthers got to enjoy their bye week after a 38-0 demolition of the hapless Giants, a much-needed win that surely raised the spirits of the organization and significantly cooled the hot seat of coach Ron Rivera.

    Carolina is 1-2, but it's coming off its best effort of the season and can only hope the momentum created by quarterback Cam Newton and Co. can carry over into this week's game at Arizona.

    If the Panthers can pull out a win in the desert, they'll be 2-2 and right in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt. 

    Next game: at Arizona

Miami Dolphins

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 50/1

    Even though the Miami Dolphins were crushed on Monday night in New Orleans, the first quarter of their season was a success. Miami is 3-1 and is in excellent position to contend for a postseason berth.

    Despite the fast start, though, it's not all roses on South Beach, as there are question marks surrounding the Dolphins. The team has allowed an NFL-high 18 sacks, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill must do a better job taking care of the football, as he's turned it over eight times in four games.

    Nonetheless, the facts are the facts: The Dolphins are 3-1 and coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland have done a terrific job. 

    Is Miami a Super Bowl contender? No. But it will be right in the mix for a playoff berth come December, and that's a major victory for a franchise that had fallen on hard times.

    Next game: Baltimore

Detroit Lions

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    Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 33/1

    A ton of credit needs to go to coach Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions, who have looked mighty impressive in the season's opening quarter. The 3-1 Lions are currently tied atop the NFC North with the Chicago Bears, whom they soundly defeated last Sunday, 40-32.

    Quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing excellent football, and running back Reggie Bush has flashed the form that helped win him the Heisman Trophy while at USC. Plus, the defense has excelled, forcing 11 turnovers, good for fourth in the NFL.

    Are the Lions for real, and can they challenge for the NFC North title? Sunday's game at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers will provide an excellent litmus test for the club in that regard.

    Next game: at Green Bay

Baltimore Ravens

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    Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 33/1

    The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens suffered a miserable loss on Sunday, falling to the Bills in Buffalo, 23-20.

    The team couldn't protect quarterback Joe Flacco, who was sacked four times, and Flacco couldn't protect the football, throwing a ridiculous five interceptions. Flacco now has only five touchdown passes to go with seven interceptions on the season.

    Baltimore's rushing offense has been pitiful, ranked 28th on the season. Running back Ray Rice has suffered from a nagging hip injury, but backup Bernard Piece is a viable option, and the team is only averaging 2.6 yards per carry. There's zero chance the Ravens will repeat as world champions without being able to run the football.

    General manager Ozzie Newsome did swing a major trade late Tuesday night, acquiring left tackle Eugene Monroe from the Jaguars for multiple third-day draft picks. The move could spell the end of current left tackle Bryant McKinnie's time in the starting lineup.

    It's an absolute masterstroke by Newsome to have acquired a player of Monroe's stature for such little compensation. He should help solidify the Ravens offense and shows that the team isn't standing pat on last year's championship.

    The move proves that Baltimore's goal is clear: to win another title.

    Next game: at Miami

Atlanta Falcons

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    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 33/1

    It's been a frustrating start to the season for the Atlanta Falcons; last year's No. 1 overall seed in the NFC currently sits at 1-3, a full three games out of first place in the NFC South.

    The latest setback came in the form of Sunday night's 30-23 loss to the New England Patriots, a bitter defeat that raised more questions than answers in Atlanta.

    There's no question that the Falcons have been hit by the injury bug harder than most, with the nagging ankle malady of receiver Roddy White especially stinging, but elite teams find a way to overcome injuries. 

    Still, not all is not lost in Atlanta. The Falcons have lost to three teams with a combined record of 11-1 in New Orleans, Miami and New England. They still have the talent to turn their season around and make a run at the postseason.

    For now, Falcons fans need to forget about the Super Bowl and worry about their team making the playoffs as a wild-card team.

    In order for that to happen, a win on Monday Night Football against the Jets is a must.

    Next game: N.Y. Jets (Monday Night Football)

Indianapolis Colts

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    Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 28/1

    The Indianapolis Colts improved their record to 3-1 with a 37-3 thrashing of the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday and are tied with the Titans for first place atop the AFC South.

    Since its disappointing Week 2 loss against Miami, Indianapolis has sparkled, winning consecutive games in dominant fashion. The defense is ranked 10th overall, and quarterback Andrew Luck continues to evolve into an absolute superstar.

    While new running back Trent Richardson has yet to really get going in two games as a Colt, he's scored in both contests and adds a physical element to the offense that had been hitherto missing.

    Indianapolis faces a stern test on Sunday when the 4-0 Seahawks come to town. A win would show that the team belongs among the NFL elite.

    Next game: Seattle

Houston Texans

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 28/1

    The above picture says it all. Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the Seahawks was a maddening and inexplicable one for the Houston Texans.

    Houston led 20-6 entering the fourth quarter, but it couldn't put Seattle away. Quarterback Matt Schaub made one of the dumbest plays of the season, throwing a late pick-six to cornerback Richard Sherman, allowing the Seahawks to force overtime.

    Despite the overall success of the coach Gary Kubiak and Schaub era in Houston, this kind of defeat has become way too commonplace. 

    The Texans are 2-2, but they haven't played their best football. In fact, the team could easily be 0-4, having won their first two games in come-from-behind fashion against lesser competition.

    To paraphrase Marshall Mathers: "Will the real Texans please stand up?"

    We'll get a much clearer sense of whether Houston is a pretender or a contender when the Texans play at San Francisco on Sunday Night Football.

    Their Super Bowl odds next week will surely reflect that outcome.

    Next game: at San Francisco (Sunday Night Football)

Dallas Cowboys

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    Odds: 28/1

    Despite a 2-2 record, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in first place atop the NFC East, a fact that's due significantly more to the lack of quality in the division than the overall quality of their own team.

    Dallas collapsed in San Diego on Sunday, losing 30-21 after once holding a 21-10 lead. The decision showed the Cowboys are not yet ready for prime time. Good teams win games on the road when they hold an 11-point lead, and Dallas isn't there yet.

    Making matters worse for the club is Sunday's date against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

    Still, the Cowboys are the class of the NFC East through the season's opening quarter and look to be the favorite for the division title and home playoff game that comes along with it.

    Just don't expect the team to advance much further than that unless it can foster a killer instinct and higher level of consistency on both sides of the ball.

    Next game: Denver

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 28/1

    For a team to ascend to the next level, it must avoid bouts of inconsistency and playing down to the level of its competition. The Bengals, thought by many (including yours truly) to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, have yet to do that in 2013.

    The latest example of this affliction came in the form of Sunday's 17-6 loss at Cleveland, just one week after the team's stirring comeback victory over the Packers. While the Browns are playing good football, the Bengals are clearly the better team. It's the kind of inexplicable loss and overall effort that should have pundits questioning the team's ability to advance deep in the postseason.

    Quarterback Andy Dalton has yet to step up his game. Despite a multitude of weapons surrounding him on offense, he's only thrown five touchdown passes to go along with four interceptions. Right now, he's the albatross weighing down an otherwise elite roster.

    But even with the issues, the Bengals are too talented to just fade away. They'll be in the mix all the way through the season. 

    Sunday's clash against the Patriots will provide an excellent forum for the team to put a complete game together.

    Next game: New England

Chicago Bears

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 28/1

    After an incredible start to the season, the Bears came crashing down to Earth in a major way on Sunday, losing in Detroit 40-32—and it took a late flurry of points to make the final scoreline respectable.

    Even with that loss, which dropped its record to 3-1, Chicago had an excellent first quarter of the season. The team is averaging over 30 points per game, and quarterback Jay Cutler has played well, aided by the efforts of running back Matt Forte and receiver Brandon Marshall.

    Coach Marc Trestman has guided the team to the top of the NFC North, and the defense leads the NFL with 14 takeaways. The unit hasn't missed a beat under new coordinator Mel Tucker.

    We'll get a truer sense of where the Bears are at after Sunday's game against the 4-0 New Orleans Saints.

    Next game: New Orleans

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 25/1

    The magical start to the season for Kansas City continued last Sunday. It thrashed the Giants at Arrowhead Stadium, 31-7, improving its record to 4-0. The Chiefs have already doubled their win total from 2012, an incredible statistic that is a major credit to new coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith.

    The Chiefs defense has been outstanding, as the unit is ranked sixth overall and leads the league in sacks with 18. Linebacker Justin Houston is a legitimate candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

    Meanwhile, Smith has played a brand of mistake-free football, throwing seven touchdowns against only two interceptions on the season. Since the 2011 season in San Francisco, he is 23-5-1 as a starter. He's evolved into a true winner at the quarterback position.

    While it's unlikely that the Chiefs will be able to keep pace with Denver in the AFC West, they're very much looking like a playoff team.

    Next game: at Tennessee

Green Bay Packers

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 14/1

    The Packers entered the bye week with a bitter taste in their mouths, having blown a 30-14 Week 3 lead in Cincinnati before losing 34-30. The loss dropped their record to a disappointing 1-2.

    However, if you analyze their schedule, there's really no shame in losing two games when they come on the road versus elite competition (San Francisco and Cincinnati).

    Still, there's no question that the Packers must play a better brand of football if they're to advance deep into January. But the smart money is on coach Mike McCarthy, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the team to step up their game in a major way.

    While the Packers are behind both Detroit and Chicago in the NFC North, it's hard to not consider them the favorites to ultimately claim the division. Their road back to first place starts this Sunday when they host the 3-1 Lions.

    Next game: Detroit

San Francisco 49ers

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 12/1

    The 49ers got back on track in a big way last Thursday night, pounding the Rams in St. Louis, 35-13. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and evened their record at 2-2.

    While it's been a topsy-turvy opening quarter of the season for San Francisco, the 49ers emerged with their heads above water, thanks mainly to the contributions on offense from running back Frank Gore and receiver Anquan Boldin. Both men have been critical to the team's success.

    The defense has been stout as ever, as it's currently ranked fifth overall. 

    Meanwhile, quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn't truly sparkled since his Week 1 effort against Green Bay, but it's tough to imagine that better times aren't on the way for San Francisco's franchise signal-caller. He's just too talented not to perform at a higher level over the rest of the campaign.

    Yes, the 49ers are only 2-2, but don't get it twisted. They are still one of the very best teams in the NFL and are very much a contender to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVIII.

    Next game: Houston (Sunday Night Football)

New Orleans Saints

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    Odds: 9/1

    What a difference a year and having their coach back have made in New Orleans.

    One season after finishing a disappointing 7-9 without their coach and missing the postseason, the Saints are 4-0 and look like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Their latest win came in the form of a 38-17 Monday night thrashing of the Dolphins.

    Coach Sean Payton has brought a swagger back to the Bayou, and quarterback Drew Brees is operating his offense with machine-like efficiency. Running back Darren Sproles, tight end Jimmy Graham and receiver Marques Colston are key cogs in New Orleans' offensive juggernaut.

    Plus, it's time to give credit where credit is due: New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has done a fantastic job with the unit. The Saints are ranked eighth overall in total defense this year, just one season after trotting out the worst statistical defense in the history of the NFL.

    Next game: at Chicago

New England Patriots

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    Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 9/1

    Somehow, the New England Patriots just keep on keeping on. They now sit at 4-0 and are alone in first place in the AFC East. 

    That's what quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick like to call "business as usual."

    After one of the least impressive three-game win streaks of all time, the Patriots finally flashed the dominant form we've all become accustomed to seeing in Sunday night's 30-23 win in Atlanta. Forget about the Falcons' late comeback effort, as the game was convincingly won by New England.

    The disconcerting fact for every team in the AFC? The Patriots are getting better.

    With each game, their inexperienced receiving corps gains more confidence, and Brady looks more comfortable getting them the football. Plus, tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Danny Amendola will soon return to the lineup after fully recovering from their respective injuries. Once that happens, look out.

    Next game: at Cincinnati

Seattle Seahawks

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: 9/2

    The Seahawks continued their winning ways on Sunday, downing the Texans in overtime, 23-20, to improve their record to 4-0. It was an impressive comeback effort for the team, who looked dead in the water entering the fourth quarter down 20-6.

    Seattle showed its resolve in that final stanza, with quarterback Russell Wilson extending plays and leading a touchdown drive to make the score 20-13. Cornerback Richard Sherman tied the game late with a pick-six off of Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, and the Seahawks won it in overtime.

    The team has been terrific thus far, a credit to coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Seattle is currently the team to beat in the NFC, and its odds will be even stronger next week if it can down Andrew Luck and the Colts in Indianapolis.

    Next game: at Colts

Denver Broncos

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Odds: 5/2

    Through the opening quarter of the season, no team has impressed more than the Denver Broncos. They have been the stars of the NFL's version of Masterpiece Theater, winning games in decisive fashion and with flair and gusto.

    Quarterback Peyton Manning has enjoyed a historic start to the season, tossing 16 touchdown passes against zero interceptions. Those numbers are mind-boggling. As of this writing, he's easily the NFL's MVP.

    After beating the Eagles 52-20, Denver is averaging nearly 45 points per game. Those kinds of numbers are commonplace in video games, not real life.

    Bottom line: The Broncos are the class of the NFL and are clearly the front-runner to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this February.

    Next game: at Dallas