Analyzing the Top Favorites to Win the 2015 Super Bowl
Week 13 is just about in the books, with the Colts and Steelers still slugging it out on Sunday Night Football and two team below .500 set to face off on Monday Night Football. Even with the week not officially concluded, we should already have a pretty good idea as to how things will look going into week 14. More importantly, we’re starting to see how the playoff picture is shaping up.
Seeing is believing, after all, as the Patriots looked like the likely title favorites just a couple weeks ago and many even thought they could threaten for a 16-0 run for the second time in team history. That hasn’t happened, though, as they’ve dealt with injuries to key stars and have now dropped two straight. It’s the Carolina Panthers, rather, who will go into next week at 12-0 and may very well be the team to beat in the NFC – if not the entire league. And while New England was the top dog in the AFC just two weeks ago, they’ve now dropped out of a first round bye and sit behind the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos.
A lot of things are becoming quite clear. In what was a wild and crazy weekend of NFL action, we can now see that the AFC is the more stacked conference. The AFC has three 10-2 teams that look quite good and can hurt you on both sides of the ball. But beyond those top three, they also have a feisty Jets squad, a Bills team that has yet to cave, a Chiefs team that has inexplicably won five straight, a Houston team that is still in the mix and the Colts/Steelers fighting to get to 7-5.
That’s just one half of the story. The NFC has two serious power houses and while the Minnesota Vikings were somewhat exposed two times in the past three weeks, they’re still a threat just because Adrian Peterson is still alive and breathing. We also know the Eagles haven’t given up, the Giants don’t know how not to collapse, the Packers are too magical to fully die, the Bears can’t get out of their own way, the Cardinals are as legit as it gets and the Seahawks very well appear to be back.
Before the season even got started, Vegas told us we could expect the Packers and Colts in the big game when it’s all said and done and Green Bay would probably win it all. Teams like the Patriots, Broncos and Seahawks had good odds, too, but it was the Packers and Colts we all had to fear. Thirteen weeks later, and both are very much still in position to fulfill those lofty expectations, but are at least for the moment doing so despite monster struggles.
The other teams with solid Super Bowl odds like the Broncos, Seahawks and Patriots; they’re all here, too.
The biggest question isn’t who was expected to be good or what the field looks like as a whole, but who is the top threat per Vegas moving forward with just five regular season games to go. A lot has to be decided yet. Several divisions are still up in the air and seeding and byes may go down to the wire. But we may be able to see the writing on the wall a bit already, with New England still leading the way with strong 3/1 odds.
The Pats have lost two in a row and at least for now are down Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, however. If Vegas has anything to say about it, the Cardinals (11/2), Carolina Panthers (11/2), Denver Broncos (10/1) and Cincinnati Bengals (12/1) need to be taken a lot more seriously. Teams like the Packers (12/1), Steelers (14/1), Vikings (16/1) and Seahawks (18/1) have the next best odds, and realistically are the only other respected threats.
Here’s the best part: the Panthers, Cardinals and Bengals have never won a Super Bowl. Yet, along with the Broncos, they ruled the odds as they eye the 2015 Super Bowl. Picking the ultimate winner is set for a later time, as our preseason predictions (and so many other’s) don’t look so spot on.
It’s anyone’s guess who gets to the final game of the year or even wins it. But the power has shifted up top and it makes for a very interesting post-season run in the NFL.