Power Ranking All 32 NFL Teams On Their Odds to Win the Super Bowl
Heading into week 11 of the 2012 season, the National Football League appears to have a pretty clear split between the great teams and the average teams. It's pretty incredible. There are pretty clearly 10 teams in the league who have separated themselves from the rest of the pack: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers. And then there's a big dropoff to the next tier of teams, like the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, and Seattle Seahawks.
My prediction is that there really aren't many great division races down the stretch in the season's final few weeks. I see only the AFC North, with the Ravens trying to fend off the Steelers, and the NFC North, with the Bears looking to hold off the Packers. But the other races will be over early. However, I expect the postseason to be nothing short of amazing. You'll have pretty legitimate teams playing (and losing) in the wild card round.
As we head into the second half of the season, teams look to continue winning, of course, but it's also time for teams to start winning pretty instead of winning ugly. The end of the season is about teams getting on a roll and entering the postseason red hot. That's how the last two Super Bowl champions were, and I have a feeling it's going to be a trend for a while.
With all of that being said, here are my power rankings for all 32 teams on their odds of winning the Super Bowl this season.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert winning the Super Bowl? I can't stop laughing.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
29 turnovers. Arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league. And one win. Please.
30. Cleveland Browns
This is a rebuilding year for the Browns. Super Bowl? Give me a break. They would have been happy to win six games, and even that likely isn't going to happen. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson could be a threat in the future, but not in 2012.
29. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are having a season to forget. Quarterback Cam Newton is having a sophomore slump, and center Ryan Kali, linebacker Jon Beason, and cornerback Chris Gamble are all on injured reserve. At 2-6, I expect them to finish the season with five wins. They'll be competitive again in 2013.
28. Arizona Cardinals
You talk about a team fading after a hot start. The Cardinals started 4-0, they're 4-5 now, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them end 5-11. And let me ask you this. Could Kevin Kolb or John Skelton win four postseason games? No chance.
27. Tennessee Titans
There is no chance of the Titans even appearing in the postseason this year, let alone winning the Super Bowl. It's the Saints who have received all of the national criticism for their defense, but it's the Titans who have allowed a ridiclous 308 points (more than 34 per game) in nine contests. Quarterback Jake Locker hasn't been able to stay healthy, and running back Chris Johnson is the only legitimate weapon on either side of the ball. They'll likely finish 5-11 or 6-10.
26. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders' offense is bad, their defense is worse, and half their team is on injured reserve. Throw in their 3-5 record and a quarterback who's never won a postseason game in 10 years in the league, and I don't think I need to convince anyone that they're not going anywhere this season.
25. Cincinnati Bengals
With a 3-1 start, it looked like second-year quarterback Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals were en route to another postseason berth. But they've dropped four straight games, and they have a dozen players on injured reserve. Throw in games remaining against the Giants, Steelers, and Ravens, and the Bengals will likely finish with a losing season.
24. St. Louis Rams
The Rams are in a rebuilding year. They're looking for signs that quarterback Sam Bradford can develop into a solid NFL starter, but it's difficult with their weak set of receivers and porous offensive line. The defense has a lot of potential and I wouldn't be surprised to see them turn into a playoff team in a couple of seasons.
23. Buffalo Bills
The Bills were picked by many to be a sleeper playoff team this year but they've stumbled to the halfway mark at 3-5, with a defense that is giving up more points per game than all but one team in the league. They don't have a quarterback capable of leading a deep postseason run, and there's no chance that their defense can stop some of the dominant quarterbacks, like Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger, in January.
22. New York Jets
I actually do think if they won the Super Bowl, it would be with Tim Tebow as their quarterback and not Mark Sanchez. Now, neither will happen. But Tebow did take over a team in disarray last year, leading them from a 1-4 start to a postseason victory. Now, I'm not Skip Bayless. I don't think Tebow could even take the Jets into the playoffs, let alone win the Super Bowl. But at 3-5 and reeling, the Jets really should turn to Tebow.
21. Miami Dolphins
I'm not as impressed by most fans after their 4-4 start in 2012. They haven't had a tough schedule, and the best team they beat was probably the Bengals. They have a great defense, but a rookie quarterback who is still one of the bottom QBs in the league. They'll probably finish around 7-9.
20. Washington Redskins
Nobody expected the Redskins' offense to be playing this well, and you can give all the credit in the world to Robert Griffin III, who is already one of the game's top dozen quarterbacks. But there's a reason this team is 3-6. That would be their defense, which is one of the worst in the league. Expect a 6-10 finish. The only reason I even have them this high in the Super Bowl odds is because I believe a quarterback like RGIII is capable of beating any defense in the league if he gets hot.
19. Minnesota Vikings
Average offense. Average defense. Solid record but fading fast. I can't see Christian Ponder winning a Super Bowl in his second season. They likely won't make the playoffs either.
18. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have been arguably the most disappointing team in the league this season. Many picked them to win the division or even reach the Super Bowl, but they've stumbled to a 3-5 mark at the break, following four consecutive losses. Andy Reid is coaching for his job, Michael Vick is playing without three solid starters on the offensive line, and the defense is incredibly soft. The Eagles have put together some late-season playoff runs in the past, but it won't happen to these Eagles.
17. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have been arguably the second most disappointing team this season, behind the Eagles (which is ironic as the two teams play on Sunday). I'd give them a higher chance of putting together a Super Bowl run than Philly, because they've at least been playing competitive in losses to some great teams (Ravens, Giants, Falcons). But at 3-5, they'll likely need seven wins in their final eight games just to reach the postseason, and if they do make it, would anyone trust Tony Romo to win four postseason games in a row? Yeah, didn't think so.
16. San Diego Chargers
I think there's a much better chance of the San Diego Chargers firing head coach Nove Turner than this team winning the Super Bowl. At 4-4, they would need six wins in their final eight games, and four more in the postseason. That's not going to happen, especially with Philip Rivers having such a mediocre season. They'll be a much-improved team in 2013 with Andy Reid as their head coach (my prediction).
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have quietly picked up their game lately, thanks to the dominance by rookie running back Doug Martin, who has now entered into the running for Rookie of the Year. Josh Freeman is having a pretty good year too. But nobody thinks this team will even make the playoffs, so forget about a Super Bowl title.
14. New Orleans Saints
Any team led by a dominant quarterback like Drew Brees is capable of beating any team in the league. The Saints are 3-5, and they've actually won three of their last four games. That's how poor they started this season. But without head coach Sean Payton, and with a defense still on pace to surrender the most total yards in history, they're not going to win the Super Bowl. This is a completely different team from 2009.
13. Detroit Lions
The Lions are quietly peaking at the right time. They're 4-4 after a 2-4 start, but they have an extremely difficult closing schedule, facing teams with a winning record in seven of their final eight games. I don't expect them to make the playoffs, unless Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson can get hot (which they haven't done this season), and I wouldn't trust the Lions' defense against one of the dominant NFC offenses.
12. Indianapolis Colts
I've got a pretty good feeling about this team. I obviously don't think they will reach the Super Bowl, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see them win a playoff game. That's not bad for a team that finished 2-14 last year and drafted first overall. But as long as they have stud Andrew Luck as their quarterback, they're capable of competing against any team in the league. Remember, they did beat the Green Bay Packers after overcoming a 21-3 halftime deficit. I think people are underestimating both this team and the potential of Andrew Luck.
11. Seattle Seahawks
I'm so impressed by this team in 2012, particularly rookie quarterback Russell Wlson, who has demonstrated a pretty impressive late-game clutch ability. Their defense is relatively no-name, but they're dominant. I expect the 5-4 Seahawks to earn the final postseason spot in the NFC but I don't see any chance that they win four playoff games away from home.
10. Baltimore Ravens
Count me as one of the few who has not completely buried this team, following their devastating season-ending injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. They're still 6-2, meaning the postseason is a virtual lock (What team is going to make it over Baltimore? Miami? I don't think so.). But it's been the defense, not Joe Flacco, that has taken the team deep into the postseason in previous years. With a struggling defense in 2012, it's going to be up to Flacco (and Ray Rice) to bring the city of Baltimore a Super Bowl title. I don't think they're up to the challenge.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are catching fire at the right time, with three straight victories to improve to within a game of the Ravens in the AFC North. They have an easy closing schedule and a quarterback with a history of postseason success. If Troy Polamalu, and rookie guard David DeCastro, can get healthy in time for the playoffs, the sky's the limit for this team. But I just don't think they've been dominant at all in the regular season. It wouldn't surprise me if they won the Super Bowl but I can't put them any higher on this list.
8. New York Giants
The Giants are probably the fifth best team in the NFC, trailing the Falcons, Bears, 49ers, and Packers. They'll reach the postseason but they'll need to win four games to win the Super Bowl. Give them credit though. They've always been a team capable of beating anyone in the league, as indicated by their Super Bowl victory last year. It'll turn into a question of whether Eli Manning and the powerful defensive line can step up their game in the playoffs.
7. Denver Broncos
The Broncos are one of the harder teams to rank. On one hand, they have MVP leader Peyton Manning, who has turned wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker into very reliable targets. Their defense is also much-improved from last year. But they haven't been able to beat the great teams this year, losing to the Falcons, Texans, and Patriots, and no one can deny that Peyton Manning definitely has a disappointing track record in the postseason. They'll definitely be there. It's just a matter of how many games they'll be able to win.
6. Atlanta Falcons
Remember, the regular season doesn't mean anything anymore. It's what you do in the postseason, as indicated by the best team in the league losing at home in the divisional round in five of the past eight postseasons. The Falcons have been a dominant team this season but I can't put them ahead of some teams with proven postseason success, plus better quarterbacks. I could be wrong though. We'll have to see if this Falcons unit can beat teams like the Packers or Giants in the playoffs, both of whom beat Ryan and the Falcons in previous postseasons. They have one big advantage though. They'll likely need to win just three postseason games to win it all.
5. Chicago Bears
The Bears are making me into a believer, and with a defense like theirs, they'll be in any game they play. They have the third-ranked offense, the second-ranked defense, and the top overall point differential. But would you trust Jay Cutler to beat Rodgers, Peyton, or Brady? I don't think I would. Right now, they need to figure out a way to beat great teams, particularly the Packers, who have beaten them in five straight contests (including their only loss this season).
4. Houston Texans
They've been one of the more under the radar teams this season, even though they're 7-1 with the league's second-ranked scoring offense and fourth-ranked scoring defense. But they don't have the postseason experience that some of the other contending teams have, and I would almost always pick a team led by Rodgers or Brady over one led by Schaub. Remember, the postseason is all about the play of quarterbacks.
3. Green Bay Packers
The Packers aren't even winning the division right now but that's basically irrelevant. They're an absolute lock to reach the postseason and as long as last year's MVP, Aaron Rodgers, stays healthy, they'll be perfectly fine in the playoffs. Rodgers and the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010 after an 8-6 start but they lost in the divisional round in 2011 after a 15-1 season. So it's impossible to know what to expect from this team in the postseason, but I wouldn't bet against this unit before the Super Bowl. Once they get there, anything can happen.
2. San Francisco 49ers
You talk about an unbelievable defense. They're on track to allow just 206 points, and they've surrendered no touchdowns in four of their past five games. Jim Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the game, and he's improved quarterback Alex Smith into one of the more efficient game managers in history. The postseason is all about the quarterback, but with an offense that doesn't make a lot of mistakes and a defense that can shut down any team in the league, I wouldn't be surprised if they took home the Lombardi Trophy this season.