Preseason Super Bowl Odds and Analysis for Every NFL Team

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterSeptember 3, 2014

Preseason Super Bowl Odds and Analysis for Every NFL Team

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Right now, every single NFL team has one goal—Super Bowl XLIX next February in Glendale, Arizona.

    Each team is focused on that one date and that one goal. Some teams may have a more realistic chance than others, but even the darkest of horses and most under of dogs will keep hope alive until it is mathematically snuffed out. 

    Coaches will preach mantras to their team about how underrated they are and how all of the nonbelievers should be shunned. Players will crow about how "this is the year" for the same exact reasons those 31 other teams are using. Fans will highlight all of the ways their respective teams are improved, seen—of course—through the rosiest of rose-colored glasses. 

    In the end, though, only two teams can make the Super Bowl, and only one team can win it. 

    With that in mind, here are B/R's preseason Super Bowl odds for the 2014 NFL season.

    All Vegas odds courtesy of Bovada and accessed Monday, Sept. 1. They have been included for comparison and informational purposes only. Teams are ranked by the author's own personal odds and analysis. Whereas Vegas odds are meant to encourage betting, the author's odds are meant to be predictive, and all ties have been broken.

32. Cleveland Browns

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    Browns QB Brian Hoyer
    Browns QB Brian HoyerJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 75-1 (T26)

    Snapshot: Will fans get to see quarterback Johnny Manziel in his rookie year, or will Brian Hoyer keep him at bay?


    Defensively, head coach Mike Pettine knows what he's doing and should have this unit running on all cylinders early in his tenure. On the offensive side of things, though, it matters very little who is at quarterback because there is so little help around the position to succeed. 

    If the Browns overplay my last-in-the-NFL prediction, it will be behind a solid zone running game led by running back Ben Tate and Pettine's defense consistently winning the turnover battle. 

    B/R Odds: 250-1

31. Oakland Raiders

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    Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew
    Raiders RB Maurice Jones-DrewJohn Konstantaras/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 200-1 (31)

    Snapshot: Can quarterback Derek Carr and company deliver enough wins to keep head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie off the hot seat?


    I have very little faith that Raiders owner Mark Davis will remain patient for much longer during the McKenzie-led rebuild, and that puts some extra pressure on either Matt Schaub to fight through his elbow injury and regain his previous form, or rookie quarterback Derek Carr to step up. Neither of those options seems truly likely. 

    Bright spots for this team should be the running game paced by former Jacksonville Jaguar Maurice Jones-Drew and punctuated by the speed of Darren McFadden, along with the defense and whatever Allen can get out of rookie linebacker Khalil Mack. 

    B/R Odds: 200-1

30. Buffalo Bills

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    Bills RB C.J. Spiller
    Bills RB C.J. SpillerVaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 100-1 (T29)

    Snapshot: It's a make-or-break year for quarterback EJ Manuel. Can an improved defense and offensive line make him look good?


    Manuel is coming off of a disappointing rookie year and perhaps an even more disappointing preseason, so the eyes of Bills fans turn toward running back C.J. Spiller and a hopefully improved defense under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to keep this team afloat.

    If Manuel can shake off some of the bad habits that have kept him down in the pros, he has the potential to be truly great, as does this offense. Along the same lines, rookie wideout Sammy Watkins has yet to truly explode as many hoped he might, and that's disconcerting for head coach Doug Marrone's billing as an offensive mastermind. 


    B/R Odds: 175-1

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley
    Jaguars head coach Gus BradleySTEPHEN B. MORTON/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 250-1 (32)

    Snapshot: Head coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell have this team on the right track but still have plenty of catching up to do.


    Bradley and Caldwell have plenty of fans within NFL media circles, but they did themselves no favors this preseason by ignoring the stellar play of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and stubbornly refusing to supplant Chad Henne as the starter. (I wrote about that, here.)

    Without Bortles under center and without suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon on the field, this offense needs plenty of newly acquired running back Toby Gerhart to keep the ball away from opposing quarterbacks and give this young but improving defense time to rest. 

    B/R Odds: 150-1

28. Tennessee Titans

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    Titans QB Jake Locker
    Titans QB Jake LockerKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 100-1 (T29)

    Snapshot: Quarterback Jake Locker is on his ninth life, and rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger is waiting in the wings. 


    The Chris Johnson era in Tennessee is finally over, as the running back has moved on to New York and taken his lack of burst to the Jets offense. This offensive line can still run-block with the best of them, though, and that should benefit guys like running back Shonn Greene and rookie Bishop Sankey—especially if the latter lives up to his potential. 

    Locker, meanwhile, still has loads of untapped potential, but we're long past the point where that is a compliment. He has as many weapons as the Titans have ever given him, but will it be enough?

    On the defensive side of the ball, there aren't a lot of big names, but the pass rush was solid last year, and that should continue with a steady stable of rushers and plenty of big horses up front to hold the point of attack. 

    B/R Odds: 100-1

27. Minnesota Vikings

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    Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
    Vikings RB Adrian PetersonUSA TODAY Sports

    Vegas Odds: 75-1 (T26)

    Snapshot: Can the Minnesota Vikings make the most of the rest of running back Adrian Peterson's career?


    Quarterback Matt Cassel gets the start in Week 1 over rookie Teddy Bridgewater, but mostly fans are just happy they shouldn't have to see Christian Ponder take a snap ever again. Overall, this offense is still about Peterson, and it would be a shame to see him hit the running back wall around 30 and never get the support this team clearly owes him. 

    Once upon a time, the defense could carry things, and head coach Mike Zimmer is going to get the best out of this unit, but one can't help but feel that the rest of the team will get there a year or two too late for Peterson. 

    B/R Odds: 90-1

26. St. Louis Rams

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    Rams DE Robert Quinn
    Rams DE Robert QuinnOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 66-1 (T21)

    Snapshot: Without quarterback Sam Bradford, the Rams need to return to the drawing board, but can a top defense keep head coach Jeff Fisher around for the offensive rebuild?


    Many seemed abnormally troubled when Bradford went down with a season-ending knee injury, but there's little the oft-injured former first-round pick has ever done to inspire that kind of dread. Journeyman passer Shaun Hill is more than capable of leading this team to an OK season, but it's clear the Rams need a long-term answer at quarterback. 

    Fisher has put a tremendous defense together, including defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long as well as defensive tackle Michael Brockers. Though some feel he's on the hot seat, Fisher should be given a chance to oversee a similar building project on the offensive side since Bradford was a problem that he inherited. 

    B/R Odds: 85-1

25. Washington

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    Washington QB Robert Griffin III
    Washington QB Robert Griffin IIIBrian Blanco/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 66-1 (T21)

    Snapshot: For head coach Jay Gruden's new offense to be successful, Robert Griffin III has to return to rookie-year form.


    Griffin had such a disappointing preseason and still has such a poor command of the West Coast offense that some were even calling for Kirk Cousins' ascent to the starting lineup. Now, there's no way that actually happens, but it's a testament to the fact that Griffin can't be the kind of quarterback he was last season. 

    Thankfully, the Washington defense looks to be a little more impressive this season, even though defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is still at the helm. Pass-rushers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan both have a chance to make an impact, though safety Brandon Meriweather's well-deserved suspension could hurt them early in the season. 

    B/R Odds: 80-1

24. Miami Dolphins

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    Dolphins OT Branden Albert
    Dolphins OT Branden AlbertUSA TODAY Sports

    Vegas Odds: 66-1 (T21)

    Snapshot: With last year's woes behind them, the Dolphins are a true boom-or-bust team in 2014.


    It's almost impossible that the Dolphins offensive line could be any worse this season, but other than that, this team hasn't done enough to improve leaps and bounds. Defensively, they're dealing with some suspensions, as disappointing young pass-rusher Dion Jordan and last year's starting safety Reshad Jones were both suspended four games for performance-enhancing drugs. 

    The addition of running back Knowshon Moreno should help this team, as should the additions along the offensive front. In the end, though, unless head coach Joe Philbin's offense is much better than it's been with quarterback Ryan Tannehill at the helm, we could be looking at some new faces here in 2015 (as I wrote, here). 

    B/R Odds: 75-1

23. New York Jets

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    Jets DL Sheldon Richardson
    Jets DL Sheldon RichardsonRich Schultz/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 75-1 (T26)

    Snapshot: Head coach Rex Ryan has many of the defensive pieces he wants, but the team will rise and fall with quarterback Geno Smith. 


    Many pearls have been clutched this offseason about the Jets' inability to bring in a top-flight cornerback, and certainly Ryan's defenses have done better with one in the fold. Still, the front seven—especially the front three—is going to be a fearsome challenge for opponents, and the defensive ranking (11th in yards allowed in 2013) shouldn't suffer too much.

    With backup quarterback Michael Vick firmly on the bench, the story of this season is whether Smith is the quarterback for the future of this team. If he isn't, it'll be the first step toward Ryan and general manager John Idzik's eventual falling-out. If he thrives with new wide receiver Eric Decker, though, this could be one of the surprise teams of the year.

    Because of faith in Ryan and Smith, I'm leaning toward the latter.  

    B/R Odds: 70-1

22. Houston Texans

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    Texans DE J.J. Watt
    Texans DE J.J. WattPatric Schneider/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 66-1 (T21)

    Snapshot: Does quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick have the juice to not only hold off recently acquired Ryan Mallett, but to also keep up the offense's end of the bargain with an increasingly elite defense?


    I'm not sure who to feel more sorry for: defensive end J.J. Watt or wide receiver Andre Johnson

    Sure, Watt just got paid—like, ridiculously so—but he's now locked up long-term on a team that hasn't had a cohesive long-term plan on offense for as long as Rick Smith has been the general manager. Simply put, Watt and rookie pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney could lead a No. 1 defense every year for the next five years and this team still might never sniff the playoffs. 

    Meanwhile, Johnson (easily one of the best receivers of our era) has even more uncertainty at the quarterback position than he did during his brief holdout, and his career is winding down. 

    It's hard to bet against two of the best defensive players in recent history lining up on the same defense, but one look under center and it's hard to like their chances. 

    B/R Odds: 66-1

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy
    Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoyBill Wippert/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 66-1 (T21)

    Snapshot: The talent's always been there, but can new coaching make an immediate impact in the tough NFC South?


    On paper, the talent has been fine in Tampa Bay, but at times, it was almost as if the coaching staff was scheming the team into the worst possible situations—former cornerback Darrelle Revis in zone coverage, using line stunts to have defensive tackle Gerald McCoy free up other players. 

    New head coach Lovie Smith should have this team headed in the right direction, but questions at quarterback with Josh McCown and along the offensive line could make this an interesting season on that side of the ball—to say the least. 

    B/R Odds: 65-1

20. Dallas Cowboys

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    Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
    Cowboys WR Dez BryantBrandon Wade/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 66-1 (T26)

    Snapshot: Quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant will have their hands full in keeping up with a defense that can't stop anyone. 


    Romo is not the problem. 

    If we can't agree on that, please stop reading now, because I'm not sure we'll agree about anything when it comes to a Cowboys team that has consistently let its defense erode in recent seasons while the blame has been laid almost entirely on the shoulders of a guy who has pulled his teammates out of the fire far more often than he caused them to stumble into it. This year, with Bryant firing on all cylinders, the offense could be historic. 

    That said, the defense was historically bad last season and might be worse. That unit will need to find ways to come up with stops, or Romo will probably just have more haters and another 8-8 finish by season's end. 

    B/R Odds: 63-1

19. Atlanta Falcons

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    Falcons QB Matt Ryan
    Falcons QB Matt RyanPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 40-1 (T11)

    Snapshot: Can the Falcons offensive line keep quarterback Matt Ryan upright this season?


    Is this Falcons team much (or any) different from 2013?

    Ryan needs to do too much with a couple of good receivers—Julio Jones and a declining Roddy White—but with a questionable running game and almost no capable blocking in front of him. The defense is improving, but nothing on either side of the ball really makes one perk up and get excited. 

    In the end, this team will rise and fall with how effectively it can protect Ryan. With that in mind, even this low rating might be too high—even though the Falcons have a lot of talent throughout the roster. 

    B/R Odds: 60-1

18. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
    Steelers QB Ben RoethlisbergerMatt Rourke/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 40-1 (T11)

    Snapshot: A widely praised draft class for the second year in a row needs to help stop the fall of the proud Steelers franchise.


    In 2013, I had my doubts about running back Le'Veon Bell and pass-rusher Jarvis Jones having the kind of impact that many thought they would have. This year, I am much higher (and with the proverbial crowd) in terms of my expectations with linebacker Ryan Shazier and company. 

    After the draft, I was worried that Shazier would be "just an athlete," but even a truncated offseason with defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau seemed to do him a lot of good, as he looked like a different player in preseason than we ever saw at Ohio State. 

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, now 32, will still be asked to do far too much behind a questionable offensive line and with unproven weapons around him. If things go perfectly on both sides of the ball, this could be a wild card in a weak AFC, but chances seem more likely that fans are disappointed yet again. 


    B/R Odds: 57-1

17. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles
    Chiefs RB Jamaal CharlesTom Lynn/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 50-1 (T17)

    Snapshot: Quarterback Alex Smith got his new contract, but he needs to be more than a game manager to take the Chiefs to the next level.


    If running back Jamaal Charles goes down, this team is sunk once again. It's just that simple. 

    Defensively, the Chiefs might be even better than they were last season when they overplayed their hand a little bit through an easy stretch of schedule. Now, with the cornerback position a little more settled and with personnel more to defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's liking, they should be able to keep games close—even in a division with the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. 

    Still, the offense is a mess even with Charles in the game. One-dimensional is never a good adjective in today's NFL—especially when it's not leaning toward the pass game in a pass-friendly league. Smith is probably better than most of his critics believe, but he'll need to improve over last season if Kansas City wants to get back into the playoffs. 

    B/R Odds: 50-1

16. Arizona Cardinals

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    Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson
    Cardinals CB Patrick PetersonChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 40-1 (T11)

    Snapshot: The loss of linebacker Daryl Washington shouldn't doom the defense, but the offense will need to be better than it has been. 


    I love watching the Cardinals defense. 

    When the Cardinals offense takes the field, I fight the urge to find something else to watch. 

    Quarterback Carson Palmer needs to find a better command of head coach Bruce Arians' offense than he did last season. It can't just be random long balls to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald thrown with all the accuracy of a failed carnival psychic. There's more help in the receiving corps than last year, but Palmer isn't exactly known for spreading the ball around. 

    The loss of Washington looked much worse when it happened, and he is a truly great (and underrated) player, but the Cardinals defense has enough talent—especially in a secondary led by cornerback Patrick Peterson—that they can weather his suspension for the season. 

    B/R Odds: 49-1

15. Detroit Lions

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    Lions WR Calvin Johnson
    Lions WR Calvin JohnsonLeon Halip/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 33-1 (10)

    Snapshot: Can new head coach Jim Caldwell fix what's been ailing quarterback Matthew Stafford?


    How can anyone trust Stafford?

    The numbers—at least in terms of raw passing yardage and touchdowns—have been there, but he's been inefficient, mistake-prone and shaky as long as he's been in the national consciousness—dating all the way back to Georgia. Caldwell, known as a quarterback guru, is looking to change that, and the addition of guys like wide receiver Golden Tate and tight end Eric Ebron should help facilitate some drives that are less about tossing it up to Calvin Johnson and hoping. 

    Pundits talk so much about the defense and where the team hasn't spent resources, but in the end, this team was built around Stafford, and they need him to pay dividends on the resources they've spent on him and around him. 

    B/R Odds: 47-1

14. New York Giants

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    Giants QB Eli Manning
    Giants QB Eli ManningJeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 66-1 (T21)

    Snapshot: Quarterback Eli Manning needs to pick up new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's offense sooner rather than later. Still, completely counting out the Giants has been a fool's errand in recent history.


    I can't bet too heavily against Eli. 

    It seems crazy, because he was terrible last season and didn't look much better in the preseason. He's always skirted the line between "very good" and "elite" and seems to be falling off that pace. Still, he's managed to pull a couple of Super Bowls out of thin air in his career, and this might actually be one of the better teams he's had. 

    The running game with new back Rashad Jennings is as good as it's looked since Tiki Barber was at the helm, and the offensive line is a big reason for that. Defensively, the team has restocked the cupboard and shouldn't be at the point where it needs Manning to do so much. 

    It's impossible to look at the Giants and think they're going to the Super Bowl, but recent history makes it almost as crazy to completely count them out. 

    B/R Odds: 45-1

13. Carolina Panthers

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    Panthers LB Luke Kuechly
    Panthers LB Luke KuechlyStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 50-1 (T17)

    Snapshot: Even with offensive losses, the Panthers have a chance to be even better than they were in 2013.


    The Panthers are not in nearly as much trouble as everyone seems to think. 

    Yes, the loss of offensive tackle Jordan Gross and wide receiver Steve Smith will sting, but general manager Dave Gettleman has a long-term plan for this team that isn't going to be mortgaged just because of a couple of speed bumps. Instead, the Panthers stuck true to their draft board and didn't overpay for free agents. 

    Meanwhile, the defense is still incredibly talented with a ton of beef up front and talented linebacker Luke Kuechly manning the middle. I was wrong—way wrong—on Kuechly before he was drafted, and he's turned into one of the best, most well-rounded linebackers in the league. 

    The only issue here is that the rest of the NFC South has improved this season—at least a little—while the Panthers may have taken a step back with the hope of eventually taking two steps forward down the road. Rookies Kelvin Benjamin at wide receiver and Trai Turner at guard will likely go through some growing pains, and Panthers fans will need to be patient. 

    B/R Odds: 40-1

12. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Bengals QB Andy Dalton
    Bengals QB Andy DaltonAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 40-1 (T11)

    Snapshot: Head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton are still chasing that elusive first playoff win.


    Dalton got paid this summer, and the Bengals were wise to lock up their only real option at the quarterback position. Still, it's hard to get jazzed up for a quarterback who has been so up and down throughout his career that it's almost impossible to imagine him putting together an Eli Manning-like playoff run. (I wrote about Dalton's struggles, here.)

    Marvin Lewis, once considered one of the best defensive minds in the league, is also in a similar football purgatory thanks to a defense that always seems to lose as much as it gains from one season to the next. Rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard needs to be a bright spot early in a lackluster secondary, and both cornerback Leon Hall and defensive tackle Geno Atkins absolutely need to stay healthy.

    B/R Odds: 38-1

11. San Diego Chargers

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    Chargers QB Philip Rivers
    Chargers QB Philip RiversStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 40-1 (T11)

    Snapshot: Quarterback Philip Rivers was money in 2013, but now the rest of the team—especially the defense—needs to catch up. 


    I don't think a lot of people really appreciated the season that Rivers put together in 2013, and a big reason was the state of the offensive line, running game and defense, and the fact that the only real consistent receiving threat he had was then-rookie Keenan Allen.

    In 2014, the running game looks bolstered with a better line in front of it. Antonio Gates looks to be an even bigger part of the offense, which should be more explosive, and Malcom Floyd is hoping to come back healthy in a big way.

    Overall, the defense shouldn't have a ton of pressure, but if coordinator John Pagano's unit can be any better than it was last season, the Chargers can be a playoff team. 

    B/R Odds: 35-1

10. Indianapolis Colts

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    Colts QB Andrew Luck
    Colts QB Andrew LuckAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 22-1 (T8)

    Snapshot: Will year two with offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton be better than the first? Wide receiver Reggie Wayne's return should ensure that it is. 


    If one believes the Colts took a step back last year, it's probably more reasonable to blame it on Wayne's absence than on Hamilton's schemes. Still, whatever wasn't right needs to be corrected this season, or all of the goodwill from the start of the Andrew Luck era will come undone. A bounce-back season by running back Trent Richardson would go a long way as well. 

    This is not as good of a team as it should be, and it has not taken full advantage of a putrid AFC South the past couple of years. With the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans supposedly on the way up in the NFL world, the Colts can't just hold serve any longer.  

    Head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson have been good, but they need to be better. 

    B/R Odds: 25-1

9. Baltimore Ravens

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 40-1 (T11)

    Snapshot: Can a Gary Kubiak-led offense put quarterback Joe Flacco back in the elite conversation and weather a two-game storm without running back Ray Rice?


    Kubiak's zone running scheme doesn't quite fit the makeup of Baltimore's offensive line at this time, but there were punctuated moments of clarity in the preseason, and things could hardly be any worse than last year. With that in place, Rice should have a better season following his suspension and Flacco should statistically bounce back as well. 

    Honestly, the defense is probably better than it was when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. We think about them needing to replace linebacker Ray Lewis (the Hall of Famer) and Ed Reed (the future Hall of Famer), but in reality, that defense stunk for most of the season. Now, with guys like rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley and returning cornerback Lardarius Webb, this crew should be able to pace the AFC North.  

    B/R Odds: 20-1

8. Chicago Bears

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    Bears WR Brandon Marshall
    Bears WR Brandon MarshallJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 22-1 (T8)

    Snapshot: The explosive offense needs to keep the mistakes by quarterback Jay Cutler to a minimum and score enough points to stay ahead of its deficient defense. 


    This isn't how we're used to thinking about the Bears.  

    The defense was bad last season and likely won't be markedly better in 2014. While the team drafted heavily on the defensive side of the ball, guys like tackle Ego Ferguson and cornerback Kyle Fuller may contribute but won't be impact players in their first year. 

    In a full turnaround from the Lovie Smith era, head coach Marc Trestman has an offense that can completely shoulder the load. With twin towers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery at wideout, tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte, Cutler should trip and nearly fall into 4,000 yards passing. 

    B/R Odds: 15-1

7. San Francisco 49ers

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    49ers LB Patrick Willis
    49ers LB Patrick WillisMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 8-1 (T3)

    Snapshot: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had some preseason struggles, but those paled in comparison to this team's off-the-field woes. 


    A month ago, this ranking would've been significantly higher—maybe even top three. Then, a preseason that saw Kaepernick struggle to properly get the offense rolling, suspensions to linebacker Aldon Smith and defensive lineman Ray McDonald along with a trip to the physically unable to perform list for linebacker NaVorro Bowman makes the normally fearsome 49ers defense a little more toothless. 

    Though these might be just momentary stumbles for a talented 49ers team, in the NFC West, a stumble might as well be a fall. There's zero room for error, and the 49ers have been making far too many mistakes on and off the field. 

    B/R Odds: 11-1

6. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Eagles RB LeSean McCoy
    Eagles RB LeSean McCoyJim Rogash/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 20-1 (7)

    Snapshot: Head coach Chip Kelly is looking to run opponents off the field for a second straight year.


    Heart says Philadelphia Eagles run away with a Super Bowl win. Head says they're probably still a year away. 

    Last year, we saw what Kelly's offensive pace could do to opponents, and it was great to watch. The scheme has vaulted a talented LeSean McCoy into his spot as the best running back in the league and helped quarterback Nick Foles find a level of accuracy and poise he's never shown before. 

    Defensively, though, the team is still a work in progress, and while the Eagles can blow most teams in the NFL out of the water, things get tougher in the playoffs, and Kelly's young team has yet to prove it can put that kind of run together. 

    That keeps the Eagles right outside of the elite contender pool. 

    B/R Odds: 10-1

5. Green Bay Packers

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    Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
    Packers QB Aaron RodgersMike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 9-1 (T5)

    Snapshot: When healthy, the Packers are a very talented team. When healthy...


    The Packers strike me as a team that may be the most talented in all of football, but two Achilles' heels tend to stand between them and success. 

    The first, of course, is mobile quarterbacks, as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tend to have their number, and the defense trends far more toward stopping pocket passers (which, in the NFC North, isn't exactly stupid). 

    More troubling, though, is the whole injury thing. It isn't just quarterback Aaron Rodgers' extended absence last season. This year, the Packers have lost running back Johnathan Franklin for good after he was declared unable to return to football and retired. Defensive lineman B.J. Raji and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis are both on IR already. 

    The Packers aren't even a shallow team, but the injury bug seems to just hit them in the worst of ways. If they avoid that fate for the rest of the season, they have the ability, but losing Rodgers again (or any number of combinations of top talent) would deep-six them. Yes, one can say the same hypothetically for so many other teams, but the Packers have a lot more experience with it actually happening. 

    B/R Odds: 15-2

4. New England Patriots

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    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
    Patriots head coach Bill BelichickJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 8-1 (T3)

    Snapshot: Were the offensive issues of 2013 just a blip on the radar, or are they a sign of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick's decline?


    The reports of the death of Tom Brady's career were premature. 

    Last year, Brady wasn't as good as what we expect out of him, but he wasn't bad either. That's the crazy thing about the Patriots and their offense in particular. We expect so much out of them that anything less than historically good is seen as failure. 

    The Patriots darn near went to the Super Bowl last year, and no one seemed to notice!

    This year, an improved defense (hello, Darrelle Revis!) as well as improved health on the offensive side of the ball should mean the Patriots are right back in the thick of the AFC championship race. 

    B/R Odds: 7-1

3. Denver Broncos

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    Broncos QB Peyton Manning
    Broncos QB Peyton ManningJustin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 11-2 (1)

    Snapshot: The Broncos are AFC favorites to get back to the Super Bowl, but then the real challenge begins.


    For the Broncos, nothing about this offseason was about winning the AFC. 

    Because of the disparity of the divisions (B/R's Mike Tanier wrote about it), the Broncos winning the AFC (or at least getting to the AFC Championship Game) is just about a given. As long as quarterback Peyton Manning is at the helm, they're not going to have a real tough time being in the conversation.

    Yet the Broncos got better this offseason.

    Their moves were about challenging the rest of the NFL's elite—mostly contained in the NFC—and never worrying about being embarrassed in the Super Bowl like they were by the Seattle Seahawks. They could have stood pat, but additions like defensive end DeMarcus Ware and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders were about getting Manning one last ring. 

    Was it enough?

    B/R Odds: 6-1

2. New Orleans Saints

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    Saints TE Jimmy Graham
    Saints TE Jimmy GrahamStacy Revere/Getty Images

    Vegas Odds: 9-1 (T5)

    Snapshot: The Saints built an elite defense, and no one noticed.


    Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is ridiculously good at what he does. 

    The Saints defense is already on the level of teams like Carolina, San Francisco and even Seattle, but the addition of safety Jairus Byrd and the improved play of youngsters like pass-rusher Cameron Jordan and safety Kenny Vaccaro make this team even scarier for opposing quarterbacks. 

    We don't think of the Saints this way, but with a fantastic defense to go along with an offense led by quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham, the NFC South and the entire rest of the league better watch out. 

    B/R Odds: 11-2

1. Seattle Seahawks

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    Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
    Seahawks QB Russell WilsonMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Vegas Odds: 6-1 (2)

    Snapshot: Repeating as Super Bowl champions is one of the hardest challenges in sports, but the Seattle Seahawks have the will and the way to do it. 


    It is not too far of a leap to call the Seahawks the best team in football. 

    Following a Super Bowl stomping of the Broncos, the Seahawks had the normal amount of team atrophy, as players chased bigger roles and bigger paychecks elsewhere, but none of the losses were things the Hawks couldn't get over. 

    Offensively, if wide receiver Percy Harvin is able to stick on the field (frankly, even if he isn't) the team should find its way into the end zone a little more often, and we likely haven't seen anything close to the best of quarterback Russell Wilson quite yet. 

    The Legion of Boom is still in full effect, and there's zero chance head coach Pete Carroll's team is going to get caught resting on its laurels. 

    B/R Odds: 5-1

    Michael Schottey is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff on his archive page and follow him on Twitter.