The NFL has returned to normal.
Well, almost. The Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers have elbowed their way into the thick of things going into Week 15, making for a crowded scene at the top of the power rankings.
Just when things start to look fully back to normal after an odd journey, though, the Jacksonville Jaguars become serious playoff contenders.
It's just been one of those seasons. With any luck, bettors have already made smooth plays on odds and stand in a good position moving into the final few weeks. If not, Week 15 has plenty of favorable lines to grab and avoid. Here's an updated look at Las Vegas' feeling on the matter and the updated standings based on the entire season, injuries and more.
Week 15 NFL Power Rankings and 2015-16 Super Bowl Odds
|1||Carolina Panthers (13-0)||15-4|
|2||Arizona Cardinals (11-2)||13-2|
|3||Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)||15-2|
|4||Seattle Seahawks (8-5)||13-2|
|5||New England Patriots (11-2)||15-4|
|6||Green Bay Packers (9-4)||10-1|
|7||Cincinnati Bengals (10-3)||20-1|
|8||Denver Broncos (10-3)||12-1|
|9||Minnesota Vikings (8-5)||50-1|
|10||Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)||16-1|
|11||New York Jets (8-5)||50-1|
|12||Oakland Raiders (6-7)||500-1|
|14||Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)||300-1|
|15||New York Giants (6-7)||50-1|
|16||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)||300-1|
|17||Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)||50-1|
|18||Buffalo Bills (6-7)||300-1|
|19||Miami Dolphins (5-8)||500-1|
|20||Indianapolis Colts (6-7)||50-1|
|21||Houston Texans (6-7)||100-1|
|22||New Orleans Saints (5-8)||1000-1|
|23||St. Louis Rams (5-8)||1000-1|
|24||Detroit Lions (4-9)||12-1|
|25||Chicago Bears (5-8)||300-1|
|26||Cleveland Browns (3-10)||2000-1|
|27||Dallas Cowboys (4-9)||150-1|
|28||Atlanta Falcons (6-7)||500-1|
|29||San Diego Chargers (3-10)||1000-1|
|30||Baltimore Ravens (4-9)||100-1|
|31||Tennessee Titans (3-10)||750-1|
|32||San Francisco 49ers (4-9)||1000-1|
|Odds via Odds Shark, rankings author's opinion.|
Odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
Favorite to Ride: Pittsburgh Steelers (15-2)
Focus on the aforementioned Steelers for a moment.
Nobody in the NFL wants to play Ben Roethlisberger right now. Backs against the wall and needing to keep the AFC North within reach, Pittsburgh went to Cincinnati last week and thumped the Bengals in 33-20 fashion, giving the team 30 or more points in five consecutive games.
It wasn't just Big Ben getting it done that time out, either, not as the defense returned an interception for a touchdown.
With the defense now allowing just 20 points per game on the nose, the Steelers look to be in the driver's seat the rest of the way. A game against the Denver Broncos looks like a challenge next week, but it's a team trotting out a backup quarterback before the Steelers get routine matchups against the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
While it's hard to imagine the Steelers can steal the divisional crown, backing into the playoffs with perhaps more momentum than any other team looks like a sure bet. From there, folks know what Big Ben and the Steelers have been capable of in past years.
Forget About It: Indianapolis Colts (50-1)
Say goodnight to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Steelers put the Colts to bed in Week 13 with a 45-10 stomping. The Jaguars tucked them in with a 51-16 throttling last weekend.
As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, the Colts set the wrong kind of history:
That's just not competitive football. Even with Andrew Luck in the fold, the Colts didn't exactly look great considering they needed overtime to beat the Tennessee Titans in 35-33 fashion in Week 3 before a 16-13 overtime victory against the Jaguars the week after.
So while a Houston-Miami-Tennessee stretch to finish the season doesn't sound too difficult, it's quite the dangerous affair for a team without an identity and missing a star quarterback.
Each team along that stretch is dangerous. Not only that, but Houston and Jacksonville sit within striking distance of stealing the division, Jacksonville has a favorable schedule with Atlanta and New Orleans left and Houston still gets Tennessee.
In other words, the AFC South looks as easy to guess as the lottery, and Indianapolis hasn't done much to inspire faith. The payout looks nice, but hard-earned coin might be better spent elsewhere.
Underdog to Consider: New York Jets (50-1)
How about the New York Jets instead?
Same payout as Indianapolis, much better outlook. The Jets allow less than 19 points per game on average. They have a quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick who doesn't get enough attention but has 25 touchdowns to 11 interceptions.
New York also has a lead back in Chris Ivory who doesn't get enough attention but has 914 yards and seven scores on a 4.2 per-carry average. Don't forget the tandem of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who both have at least 66 catches for 875 yards and nine scores.
Perhaps best of all? The Jets have a proven track record, such as Week 14's 30-8 stomping of Tennessee.
"This is what we wanted," cornerback Darrelle Revis said, according to ESPN.com. "It was about time for us to play a complete football game."
New York has won three in a row and really only played one bad game this year, a 34-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders in which Fitzpatrick only attempted five passes. Even a 30-23 loss to the New England Patriots on the road wasn't ugly.
The Jets are 8-5 and won't catch the Patriots in the AFC East, but they finish the season with two winnable games against Dallas and Buffalo, not to mention a rematch with the Patriots.
With a great undercover offense and elite defense, the Jets might personify the term "wild card" this year.