Super Bowl XLV is just around the corner, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are getting ready to do battle on the field.
Come next Sunday evening, we will know the winner of this year's Super Bowl, but also something else.
We will know which of the two teams playing is going to have the giant bulls eye attached to their back for next football season.
There are currently 10 teams in the NFL right now who could give not only the Packers or Steelers a run for their money next season, but also the entire league too.
So who is going to win the Super Bowl next year?
Here are the team's with the best bets to dethrone this year's Super Bowl champion of this season while taking over the top spot for themselves.
This should come as a shock to no one that the New England Patriots made this list.
The Patriots are a contender each year as long as quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick still are employed by the team.
This is a team that has gone to the playoffs every season except once with Tom Brady at the helm since he took over as a starter in 2001, and they have never had a losing season under him at all.
Even with the recent “disappointment” of losing their last three playoff games, the Patriots are still one of the best teams in the NFL.
And just a side note to remember, the Patriots defeated both the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers this season; the two potential Super Bowl champions.
2011 will be no different as the high powered offense will combine with a more experienced, up and coming defense to take their place back on top of the league standings.
One of the best offenses in the NFL will be back together for at least one more season.
The Philadelphia Eagles have recently announced that they will use the franchise tag on free agent Michael Vick to keep him around for at least one more year with the team.
Vick not only produced on the stat sheet (he threw for 3,018 yards, rushed for another 676 yards on the ground and had 30 total touchdowns in just 12 games), he also took over as a team leader en route to a division championship for the Eagles.
With Vick back as the best playmaking quarterback in the league, to go along with all their other young skill players on offense; the Eagles will continue to be in the hunt next season.
And this time they are looking to make it farther than wild card weekend.
At points during the 2010-11 season, the New York Giants looked like one of the best teams in the league.
At another points though, they would look like one of the worst.
Inconsistency is a problem that has plagued this team the last few years since their Super Bowl win three seasons ago. There is no doubt about it though, that when this team is on top of their game they are one of the best teams in the league.
Eli Manning is a good game manager that keeps his team in each game. With top targets Steve Smith and Mario Manningham returning after being out at the end of last season and an above average running game (137.5 yards per game, fifth highest average in the NFL), the offense should continue to be one of the better units in the league, to go with one of the better defenses.
The Giants have enough talent in place, that if they can remain healthy and play on a consistent level that they are capable of, they will be in the mix for the next Super Bowl.
Just like with the New England Patriots, it should come as no surprise to see the Indianapolis Colts on this list.
With Peyton Manning at the controls, this team continues to be a contender each season despite the fact that they usually have a major problem with their team during the season (lack of a running game, poor defense, etc).
This was a team killed by injuries during this season, and they stilled managed to come together as a unit and win the last four games of the regular season to make the playoffs.
It is a common fact, don’t bet against Peyton Manning. He still has a good amount left in the tank and he will continue to just pile up big numbers and victories.
The Chicago Bears were a very good team this year, winning the NFC North with an 11-5 record and advancing all the way to the NFC Championship game.
It just wasn’t meant to be this year, as the Bears were sent home by the Green Bay Packers.
The Bear’s offense just showed up too late to the party a week ago, despite a solid effort by their defense to shut down one of the top offenses in the league.
This is not a one year and done team in my eyes though.
The veteran defense still has a year or two left at a high level of play, and the offense took huge strides this year under the improved play of quarterback Jay Cutler and resurgence of Matt Forte.
The Bears will be right back in the thick of things during next season too.
Despite how much most of America despises this team and their loud mouth coach, Rex Ryan, there is one thing that I cannot deny; this is a solid group of players and Rex Ryan is one of the better coaches in the league.
I was a doubter for a while, but Rex Ryan’s techniques actually do fire up his team, and he is so talented with the defensive side of things that the Jets will continue to be contenders for years to come.
The Jets have returned to power football, winning games with a strong defense and running game. They have rode their defense and rushing attacks the last two seasons to two straight AFC Championship games.
Despite the fact that Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Brad Smith and Antonio Cromartie are all free agents, I expect the Jets to bring back at least the majority of them to help them make another run next season.
And even if they don’t, I have confidence that the organization will continue to find good talent and motivated their players enough to get them right back into another AFC Championship game in the near future.
The Dallas Cowboys were absolutely awful this year, as they watched a season once filled with hope and potential, crash into a year of loses and injuries.
On paper, this is one of the most talented teams overall in football, and with Tony Romo returning after an injury shorten campaign in 2010-11, expect the Cowboys to be right back in the hunt next year.
The Cowboys offense is filled with explosive targets, including a huge talent found in rookie Dez Bryant this season.
The defense is also more than capable of getting the job done as they try to improve as a whole unit this off season.
The players also play hard for new head coach Jason Garrett, as they finished the year 5-3 under his direction (with Jon Kitna at quarterback), after starting the year 1-7 with former coach Wade Phillips.
The winning way will return to Dallas next season, as the team plays to its potential and gives the league a run for their money to be named next year’s Super Bowl champion.
The Atlanta Falcons were the best NFC team during the entire regular season.
Tragic for them, they had to play the red hot Green Bay Packers in their first game of the post season which led to an early round exit.
Their season wasn’t a fluke though.
The Falcons are a team with a ton of young talent on offense (Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White) and a solid defense that can play with the best of the league.
This is a team that went 3-3 against playoff teams this year and also defeated the Green Bay Packers too.
This is another young team that will continue to be contending in the NFC for years to come and will eventually take that next step towards a Super Bowl.
The Baltimore Ravens continue to put fear in the opposing offenses that they face, as they have spend the past few years as one of the best defenses in all of football.
Sadly, teams weren’t really too scared about the Ravens offense though.
Even after the acquisition of wide receiver Anquan Boldin this offseason, the offense continued to struggled to consistently play at a high level.
With young quarterback Joe Flacco continuing to improve each year, the offense should continue to take steps in the right direction.
They better hurry though.
The Ravens' defense certainly isn’t getting any younger, and they only have a few more years left together as a top unit.
With a better offensive game, the Ravens will continue to be a force to reckon with for at least the next two seasons or so.
There’s a reason that these two teams are playing in this year’s Super Bowl, they are truly two of the best teams in the league.
With Aaron Rodgers under center for the Green Bay Packers for years to come, expect this team to be a Super Bowl contending team year in and year out.
The Packers also have the fourth youngest team in the league, with an average age of their players at 25.29 years old.
To go along with Rodgers (27 years old), they are loaded with youngsters, like promising rookie running back James Starks (24) to join him in the back field.
They also have playmakers Greg Jennings (27), James Jones (26), and Jordy Nelson (25) at the wide receiver position.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers have added the great talent of defensive lineman B.J. Rahi (24 years old), linebacker Clay Matthews (24), and cornerbacks Sam Shields (23) and Tramon Williams (27) either thorough the draft or through free agency recently.
This is a young team with enough talent to be contending for the Super Bowl each season, and if they lose in their match up with the Steelers this year, they will have not only the playoff experience, but also the hungriness of wanting to get back to the big game.
If the Green Bay Packers do win the game though, their opponents will be just as ready to take them down next year too.
What more can be said about the Pittsburgh Steelers?
They are one of the best run organization in all of football, as they continue to put out contending teams each season.
Having some of the best coaches in the entire NFL doesn’t hurt either.
They continue to have the best defense in the league each year, which puts them ahead of most other teams. You need strong defensive play in order to make a run at winning a championship.
To go along with that strong defense, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has his team in the Super Bowl for the third time in just six years.
Expect more appearances to follow; no matter if they win the Super Bowl this year or not.