At the beginning of the playoffs, all 12 teams participating have hope.
Wild-card teams think they can make a run like the New York Giants. Division winners have the confidence of a champion entering the playoffs. And of course, the teams with a bye think they're in great shape.
However, there are only a few teams with a real chance of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
It takes an almost mystic combination of attributes to earn a Super Bowl title, and only a few teams have the right combination of talent and leadership to make that run.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the three teams most suited to win a Super Bowl this season.
New England Patriots
Safe to say, there isn't a team more experienced than the Patriots in making championship runs.
And this season, they're in an even better position than in the past to do so.
The explosive offense is still there, of course. Brady and the New England passing attack are still as dangerous as any offense in the NFL.
However, for the first time since the Pats’ Super Bowl victories in the early 2000s, they have a running game to complement the passing attack. Stevan Ridley has been a revelation in New England, and his skills have made Brady even better.
The defense has improved since last year too. The pass defense is still poor, but it's still better than last year's horrendous version. But the front seven is where the real improvement lies. The Pats are No. 7 in the league against the run.
New England is set up to make noise in the playoffs. And with Tom Brady, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them win the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers
The NFC's most balanced team is also its best.
San Francisco doesn't have Super Bowl experience, but it does have playoff lumps. Last season the 49ers came only minutes short of reaching the Super Bowl, and you can bet that game is weighing on their minds.
And that's a scary thought for anyone facing their defense.
The 49ers defense is one of the best in the league. It's ranked No. 4 against the run and the pass. If it wasn't for its 42-point flop against the Seattle Seahawks, those numbers would be even better.
San Francisco's offense isn't too shabby either.
Its running attack is physical, balanced and steady, averaging 155 yards per game. That group helps offset the 49ers' only deficiency, first-year starter Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, who replaced Alex Smith midway through the season, hasn't been bad. However, if there is one weak link in San Francisco, it would be he.
If Kaepernick plays well, it’s hard to see any NFC team topping the 49ers.
Much like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning always gives his team a chance to win—an imperative aspect for success in the playoffs.
Manning has totally transformed the Broncos offense from the Stone Age mess that was the Tim Tebow era to the sleek product Denver has rolled out every game this season.
Denver's offense is machine-like at the moment and played a huge part of the Broncos' 11-game winning streak to enter the playoffs.
But it's its defense that has been the scariest part of the run—at least for other teams.
The Broncos' defense has been magnificent this season.
They are No. 3 in the NFL against the pass and the run, and their pass rush, led by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, is nothing short of deadly.
Denver has home-field advantage throughout the postseason. And since the Broncos have only lost at home this season, it's hard to see them falling in the playoffs.
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