There are no more underdogs.
With just two games until the Super Bowl, the four remaining teams represent the exact same quartet that had the four best odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy before the regular season even started.
Apparently those guys in Vegas kind of know what they're doing.
So, with what many have thought of as the four best teams in the NFL for quite some time, it's not exactly surprising that their Super Bowl odds are so similar:
|San Francisco 49ers||11/4|
|New England Patriots||17/4|
The Seahawks remain the top favorite, and there's two ways you can look at that.
First, of course they're the favorite. The 'Hawks have long had arguably the deepest roster in the league, and they still have one game left at CenturyLink, where the crowd causes mini earthquakes, via SportsCenter:
Just ask the San Francisco 49ers, who have lost their last two trips to Seattle by a combined score of 71-16, how difficult it is to play there.
On the other hand, though, Seattle hasn't looked quite as dominant over the past several weeks. They lost two of four, including one at home and one to San Francisco, to end the regular season, and the offense looked stagnant—albeit that also had to do with conservative play-calling and windy weather—against New Orleans last week.
Up next is the Denver Broncos.
For much of the season, John Fox's squad has gotten by on its offense. When you have Peyton Manning, a slew of dangerous receivers and a solid run game, there's certainly nothing wrong with that.
But what's intriguing about the Horsies is that for much of last Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, it was the defense coming up huge, stonewalling a red-hot Philip Rivers and Co. for three quarters.
NFL.com's Chris Wesseling provided some numbers behind the recent stellar play:
Broncos D has held 3 consecutive opponents -- and 4 of the last 5 -- under 260 total yards http://t.co/MzlFY2whBU— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) January 13, 2014
@SuyiOkuns And just held one of the NFL's best offenses to 79 yards by the end of the 3rd quarter.— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) January 13, 2014
Unfortunately, the loss of cornerback Chris Harris could complicate matters against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Coming in third on the list of Super Bowl odds is the 49ers, and if you're going to find "value" (3-to-1, so don't get too excited), this might be the place to look.
Last year's NFC champs have to somehow escape SoDo with a win, but they are 7-0 since the return of Michael Crabtree, and that includes wins at Arizona, Green Bay and Carolina.
With the dynamic wide receiver back and healthy, the Niners suddenly have a balanced, thriving offense to pair with their elite defense. Cardinals kicker Jay Feely summed it up:
difference between this 49ers team and the one that went to Seattle and got shellacked 29-3 is Crabtree. Offense is totally different w/ him— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) January 12, 2014
CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman, meanwhile, provides a telling stat:
Wow stat from espn on how valuable Crabtree is: Kaepernick's TD-INT with Crab on the field: 9-1. Without Crab: 8-8. #49ers— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 12, 2014
The Niners are the hottest team in the NFL right now, and if they were anywhere else but Seattle, the bookies would likely have them as the Super Bowl favorites right now.
Finally, you have the Patriots, who arguably looked the best out of any team last weekend during their 43-22 shellacking of the Indianapolis Colts.
With Tom Brady under center, a running game clicking on all cylinders and an advantageous defense, it would be a mistake to count this team out, regardless of what the odds may say.