Parity runs rampant in the NFL more so than any other professional league. Every year there is always a team that wins 10 or more games and earns a playoff berth after finishing well below .500 the prior season.
There have been five different Super Bowl champions in the last six years. Twenty-eight teams in total have made a Super Bowl—two of the teams that haven't (Jacksonville and Houston) joined the league in 1995 and 2002, respectively.
Compare that to the NBA, where the Lakers and Celtics have combined to win over half of the NBA championships. In the last 27 years, only eight different teams have walked away with the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
It's a similar story in baseball. Large-market teams are generally more consistently competitive than small market squads. And while there is more parody when it comes to the World Series (10 different winners in the last 17 years) the same teams usually have a better shot at qualifying for the postseason.
Five years is almost like a lifetime in the NFL. Teams can entirely revamp their roster, draft picks have plenty of time to mature and develop, and free agents swap rosters routinely.
So in the next five years, what are the chances that each team can not only reach the Super Bowl, but walk away as the champions? For the gamblers out there, here are all 32 team's odds.
Until the Cardinals have a legitimate quarterback they can't be considered a favorite to reach the Super Bowl anytime soon.
Recently the NFL has developed more and more into a pass-first league. The list of quarterbacks on NFL champions in the last decade include Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Tom Brady.
Arizona will more than likely draft one, but it will take time for him to develop. With a struggling defense they're going to need more pieces to become a consistent contender.
Atlanta has raced out to a 9-2 record this season and is currently sitting atop the NFC race, on pace to receive a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Offensively, the Falcons have a lot of nice pieces in place. Matt Ryan is just in his third year out of Boston College and is developing into a solid quarterback.
Michael Turner is only 28 and still has a few more productive years left in him.
Roddy White has become one of the most reliable receivers in the league.
Add in a top-10 scoring defense and Atlanta looks like a team that could be battling near the top of their division for the next few years. Of course, New Orleans and Tampa Bay are also on the rise so they'll have to keep hitting home runs with their draft picks and making wise signings through free agency.
Baltimore's defense has consistently been one of the top units in the league for a majority of the last decade, and as long as they keep churning out playmakers on that side of the ball they should be considered legitimate Super Bowl threats.
Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are getting older, but they never seem like they're losing a step.
On offense, the foundations built around Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin should be easy to sustain since all three are relatively young and should maintain their current production for the next few years.
Add in a good young coach and a front office that has always churned out solid draft picks, and the Ravens are an organization that will more than competing for a playoff spot in most seasons.
A few weeks ago, 45/1 odds looked pretty generous for the woeful Bills who had three running backs that couldn't get on the field and a quarterback that was struggling, to say the least.
But after a few competitive games against good teams like Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Kansas City, maybe Buffalo isn't as far away from contending as we once thought.
They have two good running backs in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, as well as two strong wide receivers (Steve Johnson and Lee Evans).
Their defense is a bit raw right now and they'll have to keep working on revamping their defensive line, which has struggled against the run.
Things can change quickly in the NFL—for better or worse. As bad as it looks now for Carolina they are just two years removed from a 12-4 season where they had a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Obviously, the quarterback situation will be something they need to address moving forward. They'll have a good shot of landing top prospect Andrew Luck in this year's draft—do they rebuild around him or do they stick with last year's second-round pick Jimmy Clausen?
The running backs are solid on paper but they've been abysmal when it comes to finding the end zone this year. Mike Goodson, De'Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart each have only one rushing touchdown, with Stewart adding a receiving score as well.
Defensively, their front four really needs work but they have a potential anchor at linebacker in Jon Beason.
But if they can go from 12 wins to one or two (projecting this year's total) in two seasons, they can bounce back and be competitive within a two- to four-year span.
The addition of Julius Peppers this offseason made Chicago's defense one of the more complete and dynamic units in the league.
But they're also a veteran group that is getting considerable older.
Peppers, Brian Urlacher, and Lance Briggs are all in their 30s—those are those some of the most important players on that side of the ball for Chicago. Their production won't fall off immediately but if we're looking at 2015, then it's not conceivable that they'll still be playing at a high level.
Sorry Bengals fans, but this team got really old really quickly.
Carson Palmer looks a shadow of his former self—there is no way that he could possibly lead a team to a Super Bowl at this point in his career. So Cincinnati will have to start over at that position and if they go with a rookie it will take time for him to development.
Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him Ochocinco) and Terrell Owens are both in their 30s and neither has an explosive first step or breakaway speed. At this point they're no more than average.
Cedric Benson is just 28 but looks like he has a lot of miles on him and isn't running with the same bounce that he did last season.
And the defense, which was one of the strong suits on last year's playoff team, is giving up over 26 points a game.
Simply put, the Bengals are a long ways from heading back to the postseason, let alone winning a title.
While the Browns have been surprisingly competitive again this season (seven games decided by seven points or less), they're still going to need to upgrade at several different positions.
They have a good foundation in the secondary with Joe Haden and T.J. Ward but they'll need another safety and corner—Sheldon Brown is getting too old and Eric Wright has taken a huge step backward.
They'll also need a playmaker, a guy who can get after the quarterback or force turnovers, at defensive end or linebacker.
Wide receivers...yeah, Mohammad Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie won't cut it.
And can Colt McCoy be a franchise quarterback? He's looked good this year but is he a long-term solution?
Plus, until a team from Cleveland wins a championship, the cloud that looms over the city has to play a role in factoring their odds. When fans believe something bad is going to happen the minute things begin to look gloomy, it usually does.
The Cowboys are a perfect example of a fantasy team. By that, I mean they look great on paper and if you were playing a fantasy football league you'd love to have them.
However, that rarely translates to success on the field.
Still, the thing with teams like Dallas is they have pieces that other teams could use—they don't need a complete overhaul, but more like a few tweaks here and there to get themselves back into the mix.
They've got playmakers on offense—they just need to work on improving their defense and finding a coach that can handle egos in the locker room and get the maximum effort every week (a la Bill Cowher).
Do that and they won't be cellar-dwellars in the NFC East for much longer.
Losing Elvis Dumervil definitely hurt Denver this year. But one player doesn't make up an entire defense and the Broncos have quite a ways to go to get back to elite status on that side of the ball.
With Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins both getting older, they'll have to add new, youthful guys to the secondary.
And I don't believe that Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow can lead a team to an NFL championship. If those are their guys for the next five years, I don't like Denver's chances.
The Lions actually have some nice pieces in place. There's no reason to believe that an offense with Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson can't consistently put points in the board.
If they focus on defense in the upcoming draft, they'll more than likely pair another top-five pick with Ndamukong Suh, giving them two good playmakers on defense.
Now they just need to find a way to stay healthy, plug in a few veteran free agents here and there, and they'll be good to go, right?
I give them the same odds as the Browns, though, because when you've never been to a Super Bowl and a franchise is used to perpetually losing, it's hard to shake that tag.
Aaron Rodgers has worked himself into being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But while his stats are great, he still has yet to win a postseason game.
Granted, he only played in one game, and his team gave up 45 points in regulation so it's hard to fault him.
Proving he can win in the playoffs is the only thing left for him, though. The Packers have a great organization and will continue to draft and sign key pieces to fill in around him.
The Texans have too much talent on their roster to consistently be finishing around .500 every season. Even though their defense has been woeful this season (especially the secondary) they've lost two or three games that they could have won and in the NFL that's the difference between making the playoffs and winning seven games.
When a team repeatedly makes mistakes or gives games away like Houston does, you have to look at coaching. Is Gary Kubiak a good enough to coach to get this team over the hump?
Even if they fill in the holes on defense and keep the Matt Schaub-Arian Foster-Andre Johnson nucleus intact, can Kubiak properly motivate and discipline them to not only finally make the playoffs, but win it all?
The window is closing. Fast.
The fact that the Colts won 12 or more games in seven straight seasons in today's NFL is mind-boggling. They also made the playoffs eight consecutive years and have a very good shot to make it nine in a row in 2010.
But a lot of their key position players (Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark, Gary Brackett, Dwight Freeney) are getting older—they'll be in their mid-30s or older within the next five years.
That's not to say they won't be productive. But it will put more pressure on a lot of the younger players to carry more responsibility, and on the organization to find a younger version of Wayne or Freeney.
Even with all of their success in the 2000s, they only won one Super Bowl. So guaranteeing that they'll win another in the next five years is a bit of a stretch.
This might seem like kind of a long shot for a team that's tied for first place, but who or what on the Jags stands out as a reason that they could win a Super Bowl?
And what kind of marquee signings or draft picks have they made that make you think they could go from average to great in a short period of time?
They just seem like a ho-hum, middle-of-the-road type of team. And until they get past that, I won't believe.
Kansas City has some very talented players on both sides of the ball and their front office has done a nice job of adding quality players through the draft in the last few years.
The question is, how much do you believe in Matt Cassel? Enough to take you to a Super Bowl?
If you're going to win a Super Bowl with a shaky quarterback, you better have a lockdown defense. The only recent teams that won it all with a questionable QB are the Ravens and Buccaneers—both had incredible defenses.
To his credit, Cassel has put up great numbers this season so far: 22 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He must keep building on that.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins right now they're in a division with the Jets and Patriots—two perennial teams on the rise with franchises committed to winning.
So Miami will have to find something to get them beyond from just being an average team. Maybe it's a new quarterback, maybe it's a playmaker at running back or maybe it's on defense.
Regardless, the front office will have a lot of work to do to get this team on the same level as New England. I'm not saying they're a poor team or anything, but just not quite up to Super Bowl standards yet.
The Vikes may have missed their chance in last year's NFC Championship game and this year's 4-7 debacle.
You have to assume they'll be breaking in a new quarterback this year. Whether that's a rookie or Tarvaris Jackson remains to be seen.
But they'll be working in someone without a lot of experience while Adrian Peterson is hitting his prime, meaning he could be toiling away on an average team for the next few years. Since running backs have such a short span of dominance in the NFL, it's important they find someway to keep themselves relevant while Peterson is still an elite RB.
As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are around, I'm expecting the Pats to be playoff and title contenders every year.
Ditto goes for Drew Brees, Sean Payton and the rest of the New Orleans Saints.
They have plenty of weapons on offense and even when players go down with injuries, new guys step right in and they hardly miss a beat.
They'll have plenty of time and draft picks to keep tinkering the defense. As long as they're at least average on defensive they'll be good enough to put up points consistently and be a perennial playoff team.
Defensively is where the Giants shine and they're still relatively young on that side of the ball. As long as they have an explosive D-line (much like they did in '08) they can be a tough team to score against.
Add that with some big-play threats at wide receiver in Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Steve Smith, along with the two-headed monster at running back (Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw) and the Giants appear like they'll be NFC East contenders for a while...as long as Tom Coughlin doesn't drive them crazy.
The Jets have already laid down the formula for their playoff run: tough, physical defense, a grind-it-out running game and a quarterback who doesn't make mistakes.
It almost worked last year when rookie Mark Sanchez took them to the AFC Championship game. As long as he continues to mature and positively grow, the Jets will be fine.
I've actually liked what I've seen out of the Raiders this year—aside from the last two games, the defense has played very well and Darren McFadden is emerging as a legitimate No. 1 running back.
They just need to shore up some holes, and unlike most teams I think they need to start on offense. You can't expect to be taken seriously as contenders with Bruce Gradkowski and Jason Campbell as your quarterbacks unless your defense is so dominant that teams can't crack double-digits against you.
And Oakland isn't quite there yet.
They also need to add some big possession receivers to go along with the speed and quickness they have at wide out.
The Eagles have come oh-so-close in the Andy Reid era but only appeared in one Super Bowl and have yet to claim an NFL title.
But they are as primed as any team to claim one in the next five years.
LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are all in their early 20s—that's a fantastic foundation already, and in five years they'll still be producing at high levels.
They need to add depth to their offensive line and continue to plug gaps on defense, but the real question surrounds Mike Vick.
Vick has really stepped up as a leader and mentored Philly's young nucleus this year. He's become the player we've always wanted him to be.
He'll have multiple opportunities to get it done in the playoffs. And ultimately, his speed, athleticism and now pocket-passing ability will get the job done sometime in the near future.
If I were a betting man, I'd be all over this wager.
The Steelers typically only miss the playoffs the year after they make the Super Bowl.
Give them five years in the postseason (up until 2015) and they'll likely walk away with one title.
I don't really question anyone on the Chargers roster on whether or not they have what it takes to win a Super Bowl.
I just look at Norv Turner.
His teams generally fall apart in the postseason with killer turnovers, stupid penalties or big plays that squash momentum. So until I see a Norv Turner team succeed in January, I have to err on the side of caution.
The Niners will be tough to judge until we see how they came out next year.
Is Troy Smith the starting QB? If so, how does he fare working with a first-string offense for an entire offseason?
Do they make any coaching changes? If so, who do they bring in?
What kind of position needs do they address in the draft this year?
Until we answer a few of these, we'll give the Niners middle-of-the-road odds and move on.
The Seahawks still have a long way to go on both sides of the ball—fortunately for them, they play in one of the weakest divisions in football and it doesn't appear like anyone in the NFC West is getting significantly better.
So if you make the playoffs three times out of five years, your odds of winning bump up that much more.
But Pete Carroll never really thrived as an NFL head coach in New England, and now he's been given even more front office sway in Seattle. Based on his prior track record I wouldn't count on great things happening in the Emerald City.
I'm giving St. Louis the highest odds to win a Super Bowl going forward out of anyone in the NFC West because of the way Sam Bradford has developed as the season progressed and the way their defense appears to be slowly but steadily improving.
Being in a division race this early in his career will only help Bradford and the rest of the Rams' confidence. If they make the playoffs, consider that an added bonus.
With some solid pieces already in place, the Rams just need to add a receiver or two and get younger on the defensive line. But I like the direction of the franchise.
I could sit here and throw you a bunch of different stats about this year's Bucs team and how that could translate into success or failure going forward, but stats are for losers (that quote will never get old).
Much like St. Louis, I just like the way this team is headed going into the next five years. They're getting younger, more talented and they're developing confidence and chemistry.
The NFC South could be a fun division to watch in the upcoming seasons.
Take Chris Johnson, add in an improved run defense, and sprinkle in the fact that Jeff Fisher-coached teams are never on the decline for too long and you'll get a Titans team that will make the playoffs probably multiple times in the upcoming years.
Assuming Jeff Fisher is still the coach, of course.
You could equate the Redskins as the NFL's version of the Los Angeles Clippers.
I'm not saying the Redskins are a perennial joke, but they both have an owner that doesn't really know what he's doing and every year they always fool us into thinking they'll be better than they usually are.
Until Washington starts signing guys as they enter their prime instead of overpaying for guys who are on the decline, they can't be taken seriously as contenders—especially in a division as competitive as the NFC East.