Updated Super Bowl Odds for Every NFL Team Heading into Week 13

Nick Kostos@@thekostosContributor INovember 27, 2013

Updated Super Bowl Odds for Every NFL Team Heading into Week 13

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    Thanksgiving week is here, and that means we've officially entered the stretch run of the 2013 season. Now is the time where playoff teams begin to separate themselves from the pack.

    While much of the focus is on the teams with the best records, don't ignore the clubs beginning to ascend from the middle of the pack. We've seen teams catch fire in recent years and end up winning it all. It's not outside the realm of possibility that a team without the greatest odds could raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

    With that in mind, here are the updated Super Bowl odds for every NFL team heading into Week 13, courtesy of Bovada.

Houston Texans

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    Odds: None Listed

    There's rock bottom, there's hell, and then there's the unsightly spot 50 levels below hell—currently occupied by the Houston Texans, losers of nine consecutive games.

    The Texans somehow managed to drop a home decision to the Jaguars, and in doing so, now hold pole position for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. That's beyond unacceptable for a team that possesses as much talent as the Texans.

    Coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips have failed miserably this season, and both will likely pay with their jobs. The Texans were a playoff team in 2011 and 2012, but they could be the worst team in football in 2013. It doesn't make much sense.

    At this point, it'd be a surprise if the Texans didn't finish with a top-five pick in the draft. For a club that came into the year with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, it's a bitter pill to swallow.

    Next Game: vs. New England 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Odds: None Listed

    Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and his team deserve a ton of credit for continuing to play hard despite being way out of the playoff race. This is a team on the rise.

    While Jaguars fans were surely happy with their team's victory in Houston, it might have been of the Pyrrhic variety, as the Jags no longer have a stranglehold on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. But Bradley and general manager David Caldwell are likely more pleased with the victory than whatever ramifications it might have had on their draft status.

    Jacksonville is a franchise quarterback away from being a contender in the AFC. There are young, ascending players on the roster, and they'll only get better with another offseason of work under Bradley.

    It's certainly possible that the Jaguars could down the Browns on Sunday, especially if Brandon Weeden starts for Cleveland.

    Next Game: at Cleveland

Atlanta Falcons

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    Odds: None Listed

    Yeah, the Atlanta Falcons were competitive last Thursday against the Saints. But there are no medals for trying in the NFL, and the Falcons ultimately tasted the spoiled nectar of defeat, running their losing streak to five games and ensuring their first losing season since 2007.

    The Falcons have been hit hard by injuries, but this is the NFL. That happens to every team in varying degrees. The great teams can overcome maladies to key players. The Falcons, however, are far from a great team—very, very far.

    It's been a down year for the triumvirate of general manager Thomas Dimitroff, coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan. All three need to do a better job leading into the 2014 season.

    While Smith's job status has become a hot topic over the course of Atlanta's losing streak, he deserves to come back. This is his first down year as Falcons coach, and he's 25 games over .500 since taking the job in 2008.

    Next Game: at Buffalo

Minnesota Vikings

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    Odds: None Listed

    The good news is that the Minnesota Vikings didn't lose in Week 12. The bad news is that they didn't win, instead playing to a tie with the Packers at Lambeau Field.

    Minnesota is a bad football team, and its problems start at the quarterback position. The unholy trio of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman does little to inspire anything except nausea. All three have alternated turns as the albatross holding down the Vikings.

    That isn't to say that the rest of the roster is great, either. This is a roster in need of a major overhaul, as the club is in danger of wasting the prime of running back Adrian Peterson's career.

    A new quarterback is a must in 2014, and the team will likely have a new coach as well. It's hard to imagine Leslie Frazier surviving this season.

    Next Game: vs. Chicago

Washington Redskins

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    Odds: None Listed

    There will be no miracle finish for the Washington Redskins in 2013 as there was in 2012. This a team that is absolutely dead in the water after being suffocated by the 49ers on Monday night.

    Where to start with this train wreck? How about on defense, where coordinator Jim Haslett has presided over a comically poor unit? Haslett will likely lose his job regardless of whether the rest of the coaching staff stays or goes.

    Then there's coach Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle, the team's offensive coordinator. The play-calling has been atrocious, particularly over the past few weeks. The staff looks lost.

    And we can't mention "train wreck" and "Redskins" without discussing their second-year quarterback, Robert Griffin III

    Griffin is clearly not himself but deserves a pass for this season in regards to on-field matters. He's a young player who's coming off an ACL tear, didn't have the benefit of an offseason and didn't play at all in the preseason. His struggles should surprise no one.

    But Griffin doesn't deserve a pass for his off-field conduct. He's clearly a good kid, but doesn't know when to stop talking and what not to say. Whether it's throwing teammates and coaches under the bus or looking like a deer in the headlights after each loss, it's clear that Griffin has work to do when it comes to the "fifth quarter."

    The Redskins can only hope to play spoiler the remainder of the season.

    Next Game: vs. NY Giants (Sunday Night Football)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Odds: None Listed

    There have been some tremendous comebacks throughout the history of sports, but the one currently being authored by Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano could be the most unlikely of all.

    Schiano's Bucs started 0-8 and it looked like there was a better chance of Toronto mayor Rob Ford being re-elected than Schiano returning in 2014. But the team has never stopped playing for its embattled coach and is now riding a three-game winning streak.

    Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has the look of a franchise player. He's thrown for 13 touchdowns against only four interceptions. He makes smart decisions, takes care of the football and commands respect in the huddle. 

    Schiano is high on his young quarterback, according to the Tampa Bay Times, as he was quoted as saying, "I think this is a guy that certainly, as long as he continues on this trajectory, is a guy you'd love to have as a quarterback for a long time.''

    The team's major error was in starting Josh Freeman at the beginning of the season, but what's done is done. Glennon is clearly both the present and the future for Tampa Bay.

    Schiano deserves to come back in 2014 to coach Glennon and the rest of this talented football team.

    Next Game: at Carolina

Oakland Raiders

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    Odds: None Listed

    The Oakland Raiders suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Titans in Week 12 that knocked them down to 4-7, but I refuse to stress anything except the positive for coach Dennis Allen's team.

    The Raiders don't have a ton of talent throughout their roster, but they have been competitive. Heck, they're currently starting an undrafted rookie quarterback in Matt McGloin but still find themselves in games. That's a major credit to Allen and his staff.

    Oakland might be in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt, but it isn't a team capable of advancing into January, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, as it has already overachieved.

    It's imperative that the club figures out if either McGloin or Terrelle Pryor can be "The Guy" at quarterback moving forward, or if it needs to look elsewhere to find its franchise signal-caller.

    Next Game: at Dallas (Thanksgiving)

Cleveland Browns

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    Odds: None Listed

    The Cleveland Browns sit at 4-7, which likely frustrates the heck out of their diehard fans. But believe it or not, the team is closer to becoming a perennial contender than the doormat they've mostly been since returning to the league in 1999.

    Cleveland's defense is very good, and receiver Josh Gordon is a rare talent. The problem is at quarterback, where neither Brandon Weeden nor Jason Campbell has enough talent to be "The Guy." Expect the team to use one of its two first-round picks to draft a young signal-caller. A viable quarterback would make all the difference with this team.

    The rest of Cleveland's campaign needs to be about improving its young players and creating momentum going into the offseason. It won't be a playoff team this year, but a franchise quarterback could push it into the tournament come 2014.

    Next Game: vs. Jacksonville

Buffalo Bills

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    Odds: 500/1

    Although the Buffalo Bills are 4-7, the rest of the schedule is easy enough that they have to still be considered for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.

    Over the final five weeks of the season, coach Doug Marrone's team will face only one club with a winning record—New England in Week 17. It's not outside the realm of possibly for the Bills to mount a serious run at playing some January football.

    But this season cannot, and should not, be measured on whether the Bills qualify for the postseason. Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley had an amazing first draft, and their roster is stocked with young talent.

    If rookie quarterback EJ Manuel continues to improve and the Bills enter the offseason on a high note, they'll be a team to watch out for in 2014.

    Next Game: vs. Atlanta

St. Louis Rams

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    Odds: 350/1

    Despite losing quarterback Sam Bradford for the season, the St. Louis Rams have been playing very impressive football. They followed up a domination of the Colts with a whitewashing of the Bears and now sit at 5-6.

    Coach Jeff Fisher has done a masterful job over the past few weeks, bringing the Rams back into playoff contention. It's highly unlikely that they will make it to January, but the team's recent run of success has to be highly encouraging to Rams fans.

    It appears as if this team has finally figured out how to use rookie receiver Tavon Austin, as he's had two solid games in a row. Defensive end Robert Quinn has 13 sacks and has been an absolute monster. General manager Les Snead has done a fantastic job in evaluating talent, and the Rams are primed for big things in the future.

    Rams fans need to do two things over the remainder of this season: root for their team and root against the Redskins. Remember, St. Louis has Washington's first-round pick by virtue of the deal that netted the Redskins Robert Griffin III.

    Next Game: at San Francisco

New York Jets

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    Odds: 250/1

    The New York Jets ended their streak of alternating wins and losses with an emphatic thud, getting thrashed by the Ravens in Week 12. Their record is now 5-6, and they blew a major opportunity to claim a stranglehold over the sixth playoff spot in the AFC.

    Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has devolved into a living, breathing turnover machine. Smith has thrown for eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He is starting to make Mark Sanchez look responsible with the football. 

    But it's not all on Smith. He has nearly zero help around him. In fact, it's a miracle that the club is 5-6, given the lack of talent on the roster. Coach Rex Ryan has done a great job this season and deserves to return in 2014.

    Don't expect the Jets to qualify for the postseason. While that's the focus, as it should be, continuing to develop Smith needs to be another priority. He's no lock to return as the team's starter next year.

    Next Game: vs. Miami

Miami Dolphins

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    Odds: 150/1

    Coach Joe Philbin and the Miami Dolphins missed out on an opportunity to take the lead in the race for the AFC's sixth playoff spot, failing to hold a late lead against the Panthers last Sunday.

    The team's offensive line is abysmal, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been running for his life for the majority of the season. Tannehill has been sacked a league-high 44 times. Some might point to the Dolphins missing three offensive linemen (Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin and Mike Pouncey), but the line was just as terrible with them in it.

    There are positives, as they almost upset the Panthers, who are one of the better teams in football.

    Miami is still in the hunt, but if it wants to be taken seriously as a playoff contender, the Dolphins must go on the road and beat the Jets on Sunday.

    Next Game: at NY Jets

Tennessee Titans

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    Odds: 100/1

    A last-minute victory in Oakland pushed the Tennessee Titans to 5-6. If the season ended today, they would be in the AFC playoffs as the sixth seed.

    It's a credit to coach Mike Munchak that the club is where it is despite losing starting quarterback Jake Locker for the season. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well, and he got it done when it mattered most against the Raiders.

    Young receivers Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter are starting to emerge, giving the Titans the look of a legitimate NFL offense. 

    The team faces an absolutely brutal three-game stretch that will define its season, with games against Indianapolis, Denver and Arizona. The Titans likely need to win two of those three to stay afloat in the playoff race.

    Next Game: at Indianapolis

New York Giants

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    Odds: 100/1

    Back in 2002, rapper 50 Cent introduced the word "wanksta" into the popular lexicon, referring to a person or persons that believed themselves to be something they weren't.

    50 might as well have been talking about the 2013 New York Giants, who epitomize the term "wanksta."

    The Giants started the season an unfathomable 0-6 before rattling off four consecutive wins against teams with substandard quarterback play. Instead of staying quiet, the team decided to talk a big game going into its Week 12 contest against Dallas.

    In the end, it was the Cowboys who pulled off a late victory, with quarterback Tony Romo slicing and dicing an embarrassing Giants defense on the final drive. Big Blue fell to 4-7 as the Cowboys likely slammed the door on New York's postseason chances. 

    The Giants talked a big game but proved that they aren't gangsters. They're wanksters, and hopefully, they'll stop fronting.

    Next Game: at Washington (Sunday Night Football)

San Diego Chargers

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    Odds: 75/1

    The San Diego Chargers made a major statement in Week 12, knocking off the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The win was vital, improving their record to 5-6 and keeping them in the mix for the AFC's sixth playoff spot.

    Quarterback Philip Rivers was sensational throughout and particularly majestic on the game-winning drive. He shredded the Chiefs' defense for 392 yards and three touchdowns, showing that he is a legitimate MVP candidate.

    In fact, Rivers played so well that the playoffs cannot be considered a pipe dream for the Chargers. As long as Rivers plays at that level, San Diego is a legitimate threat to qualify for the tournament.

    The team faces another tough matchup on Sunday, hosting the 7-4 Bengals. A win would leave the Chargers feeling very good about their chances.

    Next Game: vs. Cincinnati

Chicago Bears

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    Odds: 66/1

    A rash of injuries and a total inability to stop the run have left the Chicago Bears at 6-5 following a 3-0 start.

    The Bears allowed an astounding 8.9 yards per carry in their blowout loss to St. Louis in Week 12, and it wasn't like Marshall Faulk was out there for the Rams. It was the combination of Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham that were made to look like Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. 

    While backup quarterback Josh McCown has performed admirably in the absence of injured starter Jay Cutler, it doesn't matter as long as the defense resembles one better suited to playing in the ACC than the NFC North.

    Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is likely having nightmares this week, waking up in a cold sweat after watching Vikings running back Adrian Peterson galloping to daylight.

    Sunday's game in Minnesota isn't a must-win for the Bears, but it's pretty damn close.

    Next Game: at Minnesota

Baltimore Ravens

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    Odds: 66/1

    Don't look now, but the Baltimore Ravens are 5-6 and a strong contender to claim the sixth playoff spot in the AFC. 

    Their much-needed victory over the Jets came in typical Ravens fashion—with smash-mouth defense. They only allowed 220 yards and forced three turnovers in the win.

    Forget about anyone making a big deal over what quarterback Joe Flacco said about the Ravens running the Wildcat. You know what? Flacco's right. Why should he ever want the ball out of his hands, particularly coming off a Super Bowl MVP award? Ravens fans should love to hear that from their franchise quarterback.

    The Ravens host their fiercest rival, the Steelers, on Thanksgiving night in a matchup with massive playoff implications. Baltimore has showcased its ability to catch fire in the past. A win over Pittsburgh would certainly stir the embers.

    Next Game: vs. Pittsburgh (Thanksgiving)

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Odds: 50/1

    When the Pittsburgh Steelers started 0-4, many pundits (including yours truly) wrote them off as dead. But like the proverbial phoenix, the Steelers have risen from the ashes and climbed all the way back to 5-6.

    Pittsburgh thoroughly thrashed the Browns in Week 12, setting up a gigantic battle on Thanksgiving night against Baltimore. The winner of that game will have a leg up in the race for the sixth playoff spot in the AFC.

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is playing at a high level, and the defense is finally starting to make plays. That makes the Steelers a dangerous team moving forward. They can no longer be counted out.

    Next Game: at Baltimore (Thanksgiving)

Arizona Cardinals

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    Odds: 50/1

    The Arizona Cardinals entered Week 12 as a playoff contender, but they still weren't taken very seriously by many fans and pundits. 

    That changed in a major way when they destroyed the Colts, moving to 7-4 and making a huge statement in the process. The Cardinals are for real and are a real threat to make the postseason.

    Quarterback Carson Palmer is playing outstanding football, having thrown eight touchdowns against only two interceptions in Arizona's four-game winning streak. His career renaissance is a major reason why the Cardinals are 7-4, as the offense is finally starting to match the level of play of the defense.

    Speaking of that defense, the unit is ranked eighth overall and features a wide array of talent, led by linebacker Daryl Washington. 

    With head-to-head victories over Carolina and Detroit already, Arizona plays at San Francisco in Week 17 in a game that could decide the NFC's final playoff spot.

    Next Game: at Philadelphia

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Odds: 40/1

    The 6-5 Philadelphia Eagles emerge from their bye week with a share of first place in the NFC East and a newly anointed starting quarterback in Nick Foles. The move was something of a formality, with Foles playing at an incredible level, having thrown 16 touchdowns this season against zero interceptions.

    Foles' first test as the "starter" comes against a very tough Cardinals defense. Coach Chip Kelly will have his work cut out for him in scheming ways to put points on the board.

    As of now, it looks like the Eagles' Week 17 matchup in Dallas will be for the division title. Whether the Eagles win or lose that game, just getting there with a chance for the playoffs would be a major success for Kelly in his first year as head coach.

    Next Game: vs. Arizona

Green Bay Packers

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    Odds: 40/1

    What a difference a franchise quarterback makes.

    With Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Without him, they're a decidedly average team, as they've proven in their four-game winless streak.

    Rodgers is so good that he masks his team's defensive deficiencies, something that backups Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn cannot do. The fact that the Packers couldn't dispatch the horrendous Vikings at home is telling, with their Week 12 contest ending in a 26-26 tie. 

    Seriously. The Packers had five quarters to beat Christian Ponder and the Vikings at Lambeau Field but couldn't get it done. That's awful.

    Green Bay is lost without its leader, and it doesn't look like Rodgers will play in the Packers' critical Thanksgiving game against NFC North-leading Detroit. Logic points to Flynn getting the nod. If the Packers want to stay afloat in the division race, they'll need a superlative effort from their backup signal-caller.

    Next Game: at Detroit (Thanksgiving)

Detroit Lions

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    Odds: 40/1

    The wheels are coming off fast for the Detroit Lions, and it hasn't been pretty to watch.

    Just one week after a second-half meltdown in the Steel City, the Detroit Lions lost at home to the 2-8 Buccaneers, leading many, including B/R's Matt Miller, to lose faith in the team. Coach Jim Schwartz has done an awful job over the past two weeks, and his seat, while cool now, will most certainly heat up if his team continues to struggle.

    Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions against Tampa Bay in what was his worst game of the season. He must take better care of the football as the Lions embark on their stretch run. 

    As bad as it has been over the past few weeks for Detroit, the Lions can make everything right with a win over the (likely) Aaron Rodgers-less Packers on Thanksgiving. 

    Beat Matt Flynn on Thanksgiving because losing would be unacceptable.

    Next Game: vs. Green Bay (Thanksgiving)

Dallas Cowboys

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    Odds: 33/1

    Stop me if you've read this before: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo can't win in the clutch. He always throws the back-breaking interception. He's not a big-time player.

    If you actually believe that, go ahead and watch Dallas' final drive from its Week 12 win over the Giants, where Romo dissected Big Blue's defense. 

    It was an outstanding effort from Romo when his team needed him most. The win moved Dallas to 6-5 and into a share of first place in the NFC East with the idle Eagles.

    On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys host an inferior Raiders team that they should dispose of with relative ease. 

    Because they get the Eagles at home in Week 17, Dallas must be considered the favorite to capture the NFC East and host a playoff game.

    Next Game: vs. Oakland (Thanksgiving)

Indianapolis Colts

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    Odds: 28/1

    It seems as if the script for the 2013 Indianapolis Colts is being authored by Robert Louis Stevenson, with the team taking turns looking like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

    In the first half of the season, the Colts turned heads with victories over NFL powerhouses San Francisco, Seattle and Denver, but their last four games have been troubling. They had to come from behind to beat both Houston and Tennessee and got their doors blown off by both St. Louis and Arizona. It's still unclear just how good the Colts actually are.

    There's no doubt that the loss of receiver Reggie Wayne has hurt, but the team has other pressing issues, namely the lack of a consistent ground game. The trade to acquire running back Trent Richardson looks like a colossal mistake, and the Colts' unyielding commitment to the run seems misguided, at best. The defense also needs to play better down the stretch.

    The Colts should be good enough to hold off Tennessee, both on Sunday and for the AFC South title, but there are serious questions about their viability to win games in January.

    Next Game: vs. Tennessee

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Odds: 25/1

    Just two weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were atop the NFL mountain as the last remaining unbeaten team at 9-0.

    Fast-forward to the present, and the Chiefs are owners of a two-game losing streak. The luster has worn off a tad. Losing in Denver is one thing, but allowing 41 points at home to the Chargers is another altogether. 

    One bright spot to be taken from the loss to San Diego is the play of the Kansas City offense, as quarterback Alex Smith and company put up 38 points and looked like a unit capable of competing with the best teams in football. But can they sustain that success moving forward?

    Sunday's game against the Broncos is a critical one for coach Andy Reid's team. A lopsided loss would raise the volume of their critics while a win would put them squarely back in the discussion of legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

    Next Game: vs. Denver

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Odds: 22/1

    The Cincinnati Bengals exit their bye week atop the AFC North at 7-4, but their grasp on the division lead isn't as secure as it was seven days ago.

    With both Baltimore and Pittsburgh at 5-6, the Bengals, while the favorites, are not a lock to claim the division and the home playoff game that comes with it. They face a brutal closing schedule with games against the Chargers, Colts, Ravens and Steelers still to come.

    Ultimately, the Bengals will live or die on the right arm of quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton's play has been up and down, but if he can hit his stride, the Bengals will be a dark-horse contender to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

    Cincinnati controls its own destiny in the AFC North. A win at San Diego would go a long way toward claiming its first division title since 2009.

    Next Game: at San Diego

San Francisco 49ers

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    Odds: 10/1

    The San Francisco 49ers were a pissed-off team heading into Monday night's affair in Washington, and they took all their aggression out on the poor Redskins in a thoroughly dominant performance. It was just what the doctor ordered for coach Jim Harbaugh's team, which improved to 7-4.

    Quarterback Colin Kaepernick played very well, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns. It was his best performance since Week 8 against Jacksonville and couldn't have come at a more crucial time for the club.

    If the season ended today, the 49ers would be a wild-card team, but they are no lock to qualify for the postseason. A Week 17 contest with 7-4 Arizona looms large.

    But the team is extremely talented and is getting stud wide receiver Michael Crabtree back this week, as it activated him off the PUP list. While he likely won't make a huge impact at first, his rapport with Kaepernick will be huge in the stretch run, and potentially in January.

    San Francisco should be good enough to emerge as a playoff team. The 49ers proved last season that they are capable of winning on the road in January. Don't count them out as a Super Bowl contender once again.

    Next Game: vs. St. Louis

Carolina Panthers

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    Odds: 10/1

    If there's anyone out there still sleeping on the Carolina Panthers, it's time to wake up. This is a team ready to challenge for the NFC title.

    The Panthers ran their win streak to seven consecutive games with a come-from-behind win over the Dolphins. The victory showed the Panthers are capable of dealing with prosperity. They followed up wins against San Francisco and New England with a road win in Miami and deserve a lot of credit for it.

    Quarterback Cam Newton is starting to play his best when it matters most, and that's a scary proposition for the rest of the league. Throw in a dominant defense, led by Defensive Player of the Year front-runner Luke Kuechly, and you have a team ready to hang with the big boys in January.

    At 8-3, Carolina looks to be playoff bound, but don't discount its chances of winning the NFC South with two huge games against 9-2 New Orleans remaining on the schedule.

    Next Game: vs. Tampa Bay

New England Patriots

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    Odds: 7/1

    Three things in life appear to be certain: death, taxes and the New England Patriots being a Super Bowl contender. Nothing the team accomplishes should ever surprise anyone, especially with their ridiculous, come-from-behind victory over Denver on Sunday night in the books.

    Simply put: As long as the Patriots have coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, they're going to be in the mix. And they appear to be peaking at the right time.

    Think about it. This is a team that looked downright average during the first half of the season, but it has hit the afterburners and looks likely to claim a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. It's a credit to the greatness of Belichick and Brady.

    Would anyone be surprised if the Patriots beat the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in Denver?

    Next Game: at Houston

New Orleans Saints

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    Odds: 13/2

    Style points are irrelevant. What matters in the NFL are wins and losses.

    The New Orleans Saints recorded a huge win last Thursday night over the Falcons, improving their record to 9-2 and keeping pace in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

    There's no question that the Saints are capable of reaching the Super Bowl, but they would have a much easier time getting there if the road to MetLife Stadium went through the Superdome. That's what makes next Monday night's clash with 10-1 Seattle so gigantic.

    Even if the 9-2 Saints do manage to win in Seattle, they still have two games remaining against the 8-3 Panthers, so the NFC South title isn't a lock. The team must continue to play at an exceptionally high level to ensure home playoff games in January.

    As of now, the Saints have to be considered the favorite to win the division, and it's because of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.

    Next Game: @ Seattle (Monday Night Football)

Denver Broncos

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    Odds: 7/2

    The Denver Broncos entered halftime of Sunday night's game in New England holding a 24-0 lead. That was the good news.

    The bad news was that they totally collapsed in the second half and in overtime, falling to the Patriots 34-31. 

    While the 9-2 Broncos still control their own destiny regarding home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, the loss to New England was a disconcerting one. Manning played poorly, and interim coach Jack Del Rio was outclassed by Bill Belichick. It was the kind of loss that lends credence to those who doubt Manning's ability to win in the cold in January. That's an issue since the team plays in Denver, which, as you might have heard, is pretty cold in the winter.

    The Broncos face another stiff test this Sunday when they play at 9-2 Kansas City. A win would effectively give them a two-game lead in the AFC West by virtue of sweeping the Chiefs.

    Regardless of whether they win on Sunday, the Broncos must be considered one of the favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII.

    Next Game: at Kansas City

Seattle Seahawks

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    Odds: 3/1

    For the first time this season, the Seattle Seahawks are favored by the boys in Las Vegas to win Super Bowl XLVIII.

    The team emerges from its bye week healthy, but not without controversy, as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond are both facing suspensions from the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Browner will be suspended for a year, and Thurmond for four games. Those losses will certainly hurt the 10-1 Seahawks, but there is so much talent throughout the roster that they won't be crippled as a result. 

    The team still has quarterback Russell Wilson, and Wilson finally has a healthy offensive line in front of him. Plus, receiver Percy Harvin should be all-systems-go just in time for Monday night's critical clash with the 9-2 Saints.

    If Seattle holds serve at home on Monday night, it will be in the driver's seat for home-field advantage in the playoffs. If that happens, go ahead and cancel the NFC playoffs, because no team is going into CenturyLink Field in January and downing the Seahawks.

    Next Game: vs. New Orleans (Monday Night Football)