Midseason Super Bowl Odds for Every NFL Team

Nick Kostos@@thekostosContributor IOctober 30, 2013

Midseason Super Bowl Odds for Every NFL Team

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    The midway mark of the 2013 NFL season is upon us, and while the first half of the campaign was great, the second half promises to be even better.

    After eight weeks, some teams find themselves already planning for 2014, while others have designs on the postseason. While the good and bad teams have mostly separated themselves, there is still room for discussion as to which 12 teams will ultimately qualify for the tournament.

    In that vein, here are the midseason Super Bowl odds for all 32 teams, courtesy of Bovada:

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Odds: None Listed

    It was another dreadful Sunday for coach Gus Bradley and his Jaguars, as the team was throttled by the 49ers in London, 42-10.

    While no one expected Jacksonville to be very good this season, its lack of competitiveness has been disconcerting, as it hasn't once come within single digits this season, losing every game (0-8) by 10 or more.

    While Bradley and general manager David Caldwell seemingly have the team moving in the right direction, the results have yet to show up on the field. The Jaguars must have a better on-field showing in the second half of the season to give their fanbase hope that there are some viable NFL playmakers currently on the roster.

    The good news is that the team appears to finally have moved on from bust quarterback Blaine Gabbert, as Chad Henne will once again take the reins when the team reconvenes in Week 10.

    And when it does, it'll need at least one game where it's in it at the end, lest it goes down in infamy with the 2008 Detroit Lions as the worst teams of the Super Bowl era.

    Next Game: @ Tennessee (Week 10)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Odds: None Listed

    The Buccaneers have officially entered the Jaguars Zone, as they no longer have Super Bowl odds listed by Vegas. This means that the wise guys think there is a zero percent chance they will win the Super Bowl, and it's hard to disagree with them.

    Week 8 brought another shellacking upon embattled coach Greg Schiano and his team, as they dropped a 31-13 home decision to the Panthers, leaving them winless at 0-7. It's hard to imagine Schiano surviving the season if this keeps up.

    When you look up and down the Bucs roster, there is talent to be found, particularly on defense, but it hasn't translated onto the field. That's coaching. That's on Schiano, who looks to be completely overmatched on an NFL sideline.

    While rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has shown flashes and developed a rapport with star receiver Vincent Jackson, it hasn't been enough to get the team into the win column. Over the next nine games, Glennon is essentially auditioning for the next coaching staff.

    The Bucs will most certainly fall to 0-8 this weekend when they play at the Seahawks. That should be a fun cross-country flight home.

    Next Game: @ Seattle

Minnesota Vikings

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    Odds: 750/1

    The memory of Minnesota's improbable run to the postseason last year seems to fade away more each and every week, as it continues to look like one of the very worst teams in the NFL.

    The Vikings were crushed by Green Bay at home on Sunday night, 44-31. The defense, once thought to have been a strength, has been atrocious all season, allowing over 32 points per game. 

    Then there's the raging dumpster fire that is the team's quarterback position. Christian Ponder is clearly not the answer, and he likely won't be given another opportunity to compete for the starting job. Josh Freeman will likely be under center when he's fully recovered from a concussion, but he showed very little in his one start in purple and gold.

    Minnesota is finished in the NFC North and has very little hope of mounting a playoff run. At this point, coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman need to see improvement from their young players, like rookie receiver Cordarelle Patterson (pictured above), and Freeman establish himself as "The Guy."

    Expect the team to be absolutely shredded by the Cowboys on Sunday.

    Next Game: @ Dallas

St. Louis Rams

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    Odds: 500/1

    The Rams lost their first game without injured quarterback Sam Bradford, falling to the Seahawks on Monday night 14-9. Yes, the team was competitive throughout, but the loss had to have been hard to swallow for coach Jeff Fisher and company.

    Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer mangled the end of the game, calling a disgusting series of plays with the team on the goal line in the waning moments. A fourth-down fade pass to receiver Brian Quick was the rotten cherry on top of an already revolting sundae. That's the kind of play you run if you employ Calvin Johnson, not Brian Quick. 

    Schottenheimer has also completely failed to get rookie receiver Tavon Austin involved in the offense. The next big play Austin makes this season will be his first. He's been a total bust thus far, especially considering general manager Les Snead traded up in the first round to acquire him.

    The defense was good on Monday night but has been brutal for most of the season. The unit was supposed to be a strength, but it's been more of a weakness. Defensive end Robert Quinn has been brilliant throughout, but he hasn't had much help.

    With Kellen Clemens starting at quarterback for the foreseeable future, bury the Rams. They have zero chance of contending.

    Next Game: Tennessee

Cleveland Browns

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    Odds: 500/1

    The Browns lost their third consecutive game, falling 23-17 to the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Despite the loss, it was an outstanding effort from coach Rob Chudzinski's team, who nearly pulled off a monumental upset.

    Quarterback Jason Campbell was solid enough to remain the team's starter, and perhaps his best attribute is that he's not backup Brandon Weeden, who played himself out of favor with Chudzinski with each horrible pass thrown.

    The Browns are a strange team to evaluate at the midway point. While they're 3-5, they've also started three different quarterbacks. The team's starting signal-caller in 2014 is likely not on the roster. What Brian Hoyer showed in his limited time as the starter is that the team is ready to contend if it can receive above-average play from the position.

    Credit must be given to general manager Mike Lombardi and president Joe Banner for the Trent Richardson trade, which netted them a first-round pick in an absolutely loaded 2014 draft class. Richardson has been pedestrian with the Colts.

    Plus, the team held onto receiver Josh Gordon at the trade deadline, which must be viewed as a positive. Gordon has been the team's best player this season.

    The team has several good, young players, and an excellent coaching staff is in place. While it won't contend this season, the future is bright in Cleveland.

    Next Game: Baltimore

Buffalo Bills

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    Odds: 500/1

    The Bills dropped to 3-5 after getting smashed by the Saints in New Orleans, 35-17. The loss puts them squarely behind the eight ball in the AFC playoff picture, but the first half of the season was still a successful one for the team and coach Doug Marrone.

    Buffalo has been mostly competitive this season, and has showed a toughness under Marrone that has to please the fanbase. The Week 7 win in Miami was huge and proved that the team will play hard for its coach.

    Thaddeus Lewis has done a good job filling in at quarterback for rookie EJ Manuel, but Manuel will once again be "The Guy" when healthy. Manuel's continued development this season has to be the most important item on the team's agenda.

    Pass-rusher Mario Williams is having a dynamite season with 11 sacks, and he appears to be living up to the massive contract he signed in 2012.

    Buffalo will likely lose to Kansas City on Sunday, but as long as Manuel gets healthy and shows signs of improvement, it will have much to look forward to in 2014 and beyond.

    Next Game: Kansas City

Oakland Raiders

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    Odds: 250/1

    The Raiders have exceeded all expectations this season, as the club improved to 3-4 with a 21-18 victory over the Steelers. The team was an afterthought heading into the 2013 campaign but has been competitive throughout, a major credit to coach Dennis Allen.

    Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has been a revelation, and is the biggest reason why the Raiders are 3-4. His 93-yard touchdown run on Sunday was majestic, and speaks to his vast physical ability. If he continues to improve, the team might want to think twice about drafting a quarterback in the early rounds of next year's draft.

    Plus, the defense has been better than expected. Rookie linebacker Sio Moore has flashed, and defensive end Lamarr Houston is a legitimate Pro Bowl candidate. 

    A win over the Eagles on Sunday would put the team at .500 with eight to play. That fact alone should put a smile on every supporter of the silver and black. This season has been a roaring success for the Raiders.

    Next Game: Philadelphia

Tennessee Titans

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    Odds: 200/1

    The Titans lost three straight against elite competition (Kansas City, Seattle and San Francisco) heading into their bye, dropping to 3-4 and nullifying their 3-1 start, but all is not lost in the Music City.

    Quarterback Jake Locker has shown major signs of improvement in his first full season as the starter, and displayed incredible toughness in his early return from a rib injury. Locker is poised to go off in the second half of the season.

    The defense has also been better than expected, as it's ranked eighth overall. It's not far away from being a top-level unit.

    It's not outside the realm of possibility that the Titans could get back in the AFC wild-card chase, but in order for that to happen, a win in St. Louis on Sunday is a must.

    Next Game: @ St. Louis

New York Jets

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    Odds: 200/1

    Even with their blowout, 49-9 loss to the Bengals last weekend, the 4-4 Jets have much to be proud of. It's been a very successful season already for Gang Green.

    Coach Rex Ryan has done a phenomenal job in coaxing maximum effort out of one of the worst 53-man rosters in the league. He might have entered the year as a punch line, but the joke has been on his critics, as Ryan has likely earned the right to return in 2014, barring some kind of epic collapse.

    Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has had the definition of an up-and-down campaign, and has been mostly down recently, as evidenced by his three pick-six interceptions in the last eight quarters of work. But he's also dazzled at times, and clearly isn't afraid of the big moment. 

    The defense has been mostly solid, particularly up front, with defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson having the look of a dominant twosome. 

    It's possible that the Jets could contend for an AFC wild-card berth but unlikely. The team would gladly settle for continued improvement from both Smith and the defense.

    Next Game: New Orleans 

Miami Dolphins

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    Odds: 150/1

    Remember when the Dolphins were 3-0? It seems like eons ago, as the team has lost four consecutive games to drop its record to 3-4.

    The latest defeat came in disappointing fashion at the hands of the Patriots, as Miami led 17-3 at halftime before giving up 24 unanswered points and losing 27-17. It was an incredibly frustrating outing for the team that many thought had turned the corner and was ready to contend for the AFC East title.

    Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has yet to take the next step, as he's thrown 11 touchdowns but has turned the ball over 14 times (nine interceptions, five lost fumbles). It's worth noting that his protection up front has been atrocious, as he's been sacked a league-high 32 times, but he also needs to play better and with more consistency.

    The Dolphins are staring down the barrel of 3-5 with a Thursday night home game against the surging Bengals looming. The team must win if it wants to stay in the conversation for a wild-card berth.

    Next Game: Cincinnati (Thursday Night Football)

Atlanta Falcons

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    Odds: 150/1

    The Falcons are the most disappointing team in football, period, end of story. This is a team that entered the year with Super Bowl aspirations, but now finds itself at 2-5, ravaged by injuries and looking completely dead in the water.

    The latest defeat came in Arizona, 27-13. The team was unable to protect quarterback Matt Ryan, who has been under duress for the better part of the season, and the defense couldn't record critical stops.

    The offense is a total mess. Running back Steven Jackson looks finished, and receiver Roddy White hasn't been healthy all season. Couple that in with the season-ending injury to receiver Julio Jones, and you have a passing attack that features the likes of Harry Douglas, Drew Davis and Darius Johnson.

    Poor Tony Gonzalez. The future Hall of Fame tight end probably wonders each and every day why he decided to come back.

    The bad times should continue to roll on Sunday when the team plays at red-hot Carolina.

    Next Game: @ Carolina 

Arizona Cardinals

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    Odds: 150/1

    Arizona got a huge win on Sunday, beating the Falcons 27-13 to improve its record to 4-4. It was an impressive first half of the season for new coach Bruce Arians and his team.

    The defense has been impressive, with Pro Bowl-caliber players throughout. Defensive lineman Calais Campbell, linebacker Daryl Washington, cornerback Patrick Peterson and rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu have been tremendous.

    Rookie running back Andre Ellington has flashed tremendous speed, and broke out for 154 yards in the win over Atlanta. He adds a new dimension to a Cardinals offense that has relied solely on receiver Larry Fitzgerald for too long.

    Still, the team does have problems. Carson Palmer clearly isn't the long-term answer at quarterback, and the offensive line has been poor.

    Even with that said, the Cardinals are in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt at 4-4. They likely won't qualify, but the fact that they're still in it is a credit to Arians and the players.

    Next Game: Houston (Week 10)

Washington Redskins

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    Odds: 125/1

    The Redskins put forth perhaps the most disappointing effort of Week 8, getting crushed 45-21 by the Broncos despite holding a 21-7 lead in the third quarter.

    Just a week after his marvelous performance against the Bears, quarterback Robert Griffin III was dreadful. He still hasn't regained the form he flashed in his sparkling neophyte campaign a year ago, and the problems have had more to do with his throwing accuracy than with his surgically repaired knee.

    While the offense is loaded with playmakers, it doesn't matter if Griffin isn't good enough to get them the ball on a consistent basis, and right now, RG3 isn't playing at a high enough level for the offense to be fully functional.

    The defense is a total disaster. It's giving up nearly 33 points per game, and allows huge chunks of yardage. 

    But because the team plays in the horrific NFC East, a run towards the postseason isn't yet out of the question. Remember, the Redskins started 3-6 last year before reeling off seven consecutive wins to claim their first NFC East title since 1999.

    While a repeat performance is unlikely, it's not totally outside the realm of possibility. For it to happen, Griffin must play better, and the defense must get a clue.

    Next Game: San Diego

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Odds: 125/1

    The Steelers couldn't keep the positive momentum going, as their two-game win streak ended with a 21-18 loss in Oakland that dropped their record to 2-5.

    Pittsburgh just isn't a very talented football team on either side of the ball. The defense has underwhelmed this season, particularly against the run, and the offensive line is among the worst in the league. 

    The team does still employ coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, so it's tough to say that the Steelers are totally dead, but they're definitely on life support.

    A loss in New England would send them to 2-6 and likely end any dreams of a run towards the postseason.

    Next Game: @ New England

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Odds: 100/1

    Remember when the Eagles ran coach Chip Kelly's offense to perfection in Week 1 on Monday night against the Redskins? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    The Philly offense has now recorded a grand total of three points in the past two weeks, both home losses in the division (Dallas and NY Giants) that sent its record to 3-5. It doesn't have the look of a playoff team.

    While the offense has struggled, it's also worth noting that Nick Foles and Matt Barkley have been the primary quarterbacks over the past two games. With favored starter Michael Vick advancing in age and constantly battling injuries, it's fair to say that the Eagles Week 1 starting quarterback in 2014 is not currently on the roster.

    The defense also needs a ton of work, particularly in the secondary.

    The team desperately needs to get back on track with a win in Oakland. Because it plays in the dreadful NFC East, all is not yet lost.

    Next Game: @ Oakland

Houston Texans

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    Odds: 100/1

    The Texans are the AFC's version of the Atlanta Falcons: a Super Bowl contender who has been a colossal flop.

    Houston is 2-5 and is now rolling with Case Keenum as its starting quarterback, despite the presence of a healthy Matt Schaub. Schaub has been terrible this season, throwing pick-six interceptions like there's an escalator clause in his contract for them, and is the primary reason why the team has struggled.

    The defense took a major hit with the season-ending injury of linebacker Brian Cushing, but there is still talent throughout the unit, led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.

    It's feasible that the Texans could win games by running the football with backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate and playing terrific defense, but it remains to be seen if Keenum is a competent option at quarterback. If he plays well over the balance of the season, it might be enough for coach Gary Kubiak to save his job.

    If Houston harbors any hope of contending for the postseason, a win over the first-place Colts on Sunday night is a must.

    Next Game: Indianapolis (Sunday Night Football)

New York Giants

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    Odds: 75/1

    The Giants have been pulling their best Lazarus act over the past few weeks, rising from the dead, at least temporarily, winning two straight to improve their record to 2-6. In the godawful NFC East, that leaves them only two games out of first place.

    The defense has played much better in recent weeks, with defensive end Justin Tuck leading the charge. Quarterback Eli Manning hasn't thrown an interception in two weeks, and the offensive line has improved. 

    Under coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants have proven to be a resilient team that is never truly out of it. They enter their bye week with a chance to get healthy and come out firing in the second half. Usually, the team starts 6-2 and then fades down the stretch; this year, it gets a chance to reverse that trend.

    It's still unlikely that the Giants can mount a run at the division title, but not impossible. Don't count them out just yet.

    Next Game: Oakland (Week 10)

Chicago Bears

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    Odds: 75/1

    The Marc Trestman era in Chicago got off to a magical start, with the team winning its first three games under its new head coach, but injuries have derailed things since, and it now sits at 4-3.

    While the groin injury suffered by quarterback Jay Cutler has gotten all the headlines, the loss of linebacker Lance Briggs is monumental as well, and the defensive line has also been decimated, with Henry Melton (out of the season) being the biggest casualty. 

    Backup signal-caller Josh McCown is competent, and if anyone can coax solid play out of a quarterback, it's Trestman. Running back Matt Forte will be needed to carry the offense in Cutler's absence. 

    If the Bears can somehow manage to pull off a massive upset of the Packers on Monday night, they'll be back in the NFC North race.

    Don't count on that happening.

    Next Game: @ Green Bay (Monday Night Football)

Baltimore Ravens

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    Odds: 66/1

    The defending Super Bowl champions have stumbled to a 3-4 start, held down by the albatross that is their complete and utter lack of a run game. They're only averaging 2.8 yards per carry on the season, which is insane when you consider the team employs running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, and also speaks to how poor the offensive line has played.

    While the defense has been solid, the team cannot hope to win without any balance on offense. Quarterback Joe Flacco isn't going to get it done on his lonesome. Departed wide receiver Anquan Boldin isn't walking through that door, and neither is injured tight end Dennis Pitta. Baltimore must find a run game if it's to make the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year.

    Coach John Harbaugh and Flacco have never lost to Cleveland as members of the Ravens, but Sunday's game could be their first. Baltimore needs a victory to stay in the thick of the AFC wild-card chase.

    Next Game: @ Cleveland

San Diego Chargers

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    Odds: 50/1

    The Chargers have been one of the most surprising teams in the league, eschewing preseason prognostications on their way to a 4-3 record.

    Coach Mike McCoy has done a fabulous job, particularly as it concerns quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers has experienced a career revival, and has been aided by rookie receiver Keenan Allen, who has dazzled. Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead make for an interesting one-two punch at running back, and have both been effective.

    The pass protection, which sunk the team in 2012, has been good, as Rivers has only been sacked 11 times. It's a major reason why the Chargers are squarely in the AFC wild-card hunt.

    They still have two games apiece against Kansas City and Denver, so it remains to be seen how viable the Chargers truly are. With the schedule set to pick up exponentially in intensity, getting a road win in Washington on Sunday would be huge.

    Next Game: @ Washington

Detroit Lions

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    Odds: 40/1

    The Lions are coming off one of the most dramatic comeback wins of the season, a 31-30 heartstopper over the Cowboys that saw quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson share in the heroics.

    The two were unstoppable throughout, particularly Johnson, who authored what was quite possibly the finest game ever played by a wide receiver, amassing 329 receiving yards and a touchdown, and he could easily have had three or four trips to the end zone. Stafford was masterful on the game's final drive and showed phenomenal presence of mind in scoring in the game's final seconds.

    Detroit is now 5-3 and has the look and feel of a playoff team. The defense has been solid, led by a solid front that includes tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Running back Reggie Bush has provided a new dimension to the offense and allowed coordinator Scott Linehan to run a more balanced attack.

    The team goes into its bye flying high, and with good reason; it's a legitimate playoff contender in the NFC.

    Next Game: @ Chicago (Week 10)

Carolina Panthers

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    Odds: 33/1

    Don't look now, but the Carolina Panthers have evolved into a damn good football team.

    Coach Ron Rivera's bunch now sits at 4-3 after a 31-13 whupping of the Bucs, and is in pole position for a wild-card spot in the NFC. It's been a stunning turnaround for a team that looked hapless in starting 0-2.

    Quarterback Cam Newton has played excellent football, as it looks like he's in complete command of the offense. He's no longer forcing the ball down the field, and is finally showing the leadership skills expected of a franchise signal-caller.

    The defense has been phenomenal, led by defensive player of the year candidate linebacker Luke Kuechly and rookie defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

    Carolina has taken care of business against bad teams, winning three straight games in blowout fashion against subpar competition. If it can repeat the trick on Sunday against the Falcons, it'll improve to 5-3 and be a very, very dangerous club.

    Next Game: Atlanta

Dallas Cowboys

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    Odds: 28/1

    This past week, Dallas suffered the kind of loss that has been all too familiar in the Jason Garrett era, as the team blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter en route to a 31-30 defeat in Detroit.

    While receiver Dez Bryant made all the headlines with his sideline explosions, it's hard to blame Bryant for losing his mind when you play for coaches like Garrett and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Kiffin's defense was atrocious, allowing Lions wideout Calvin Johnson to nearly break the record for receiving yards in a single game. 

    Despite the loss and Garrett's ineptitude, Dallas finds itself at 4-4 and the best team in the horrendous NFC East. If the Cowboys can develop some semblance of a run game (the looming return of running back DeMarco Murray might help), they should be good enough to win the division.

    Of course, they'll lose by 250 points to the NFC West runner-up in the first round, but at this point, Cowboys fans would likely be happy with just qualifying.

    Next Game: Minnesota

Indianapolis Colts

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    Odds: 16/1

    The Colts entered their bye week flying high after beating Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Week 7. They sit at 5-2 and atop the AFC South.

    Quarterback Andrew Luck has been celestial in his second season, and the defense has been better than expected. Simply put, this is a tough football team, having already taken down the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos.

    While the loss of receiver Reggie Wayne for the season hurts, the team has enough talent on both sides of the ball to rise to the occasion. 

    A win on Sunday night in Houston would go a long way towards the team winning its first division title since 2010. 

    Next Game: @ Houston (Sunday Night Football)

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Odds: 14/1

    The Bengals continued their outstanding recent run of form, smashing the Jets by the lopsided margin of 49-9 to improve their record to 6-2.

    Cincinnati now holds a commanding lead in the AFC North, and is playing like a true Super Bowl contender.

    Quarterback Andy Dalton has risen to the occasion, topping the 300-yard plateau in three consecutive games and throwing for 11 touchdowns over the same span. He has myriad weapons at his disposal, particularly with the emergence of wideout Marvin Jones, who came out of nowhere to catch four touchdowns against the Jets. His excellent play can only help open things up for all-world receiver A.J. Green.

    The defense is an elite unit and Mike Zimmer is one of the best coordinators in football. 

    Add all of this up, and you have a team that will challenge for a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. It should be able to take care of business in Houston.

    Next Game: @ Miami (Thursday Night Football)

New England Patriots

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    Odds: 12/1

    Despite not playing their best football yet this season, the Patriots are 6-2 and hold a two-game lead atop the AFC East. That's a major credit to the job done by coach Bill Belichick and his staff.

    Quarterback Tom Brady hasn't looked like his Hall of Fame self for most of the campaign, completing only 56 percent of his passes and routinely missing throws he's made thousands of times throughout his storied career. Still, it's difficult to think that the best isn't yet to come with Brady, particularly with tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Danny Amendola back in the lineup, with running back Shane Vereen soon to follow.

    The team has been hit hard by the injury bug, the latest of which being the broken leg suffered by offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer. That's a critical blow for the Patriots offensive line.

    Even with Brady's issues and all the injuries, the Patriots still have the look of a playoff team. They should easily win the AFC East, but picking them against the likes of Denver, Cincinnati, Indianapolis or Kansas City wouldn't be the most prudent option at this point.

    Next Game: Pittsburgh

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Odds: 12/1

    The Chiefs won yet again last week, downing the Browns 23-17 to swell their record to an unbelievable 8-0, quadrupling their win total from 2012.

    Running back Jamaal Charles is a legitimate MVP candidate, and the defense has been nothing short of awesome, leading the league in sacks (36) and takeaways (20). And when you couple that with a quarterback like Alex Smith who doesn't make poor decisions with the football, you have a formula for success in January.

    We'll get a true test of who the Chiefs are coming up in Weeks 11 and 13, when they play the Broncos twice in three games, but even if they aren't as good as Denver, they will still be a playoff team and will be a tough out for whomever they draw.

    Next Game: @ Buffalo

Green Bay Packers

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    Odds: 9/1

    The Packers just keep on keeping on, as they now sit 5-2 and atop the NFC North after blowing out the hapless Vikings 44-31.

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL, regardless of position. He makes throws that no man on the planet is capable of delivering. As long as he's under center for the Pack, they're capable of beating any team, anywhere, even without injured wideouts Randall Cobb and James Jones.

    Running back Eddie Lacy is the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and has injected toughness and balance into the Packers offensive attack.

    The defense has performed admirably without injured linebacker Clay Matthews, with fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk playing exceptionally well.

    Green Bay is an extremely dangerous team, and is most certainly headed for the postseason. It'll win the NFC North.

    Next Game: Chicago (Monday Night Football)

San Francisco 49ers

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    Odds: 15/2

    The 49ers continued their winning ways, claiming their fifth consecutive victory with a 42-10 thrashing of the Jaguars in London. All five wins have been in double digits.

    Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been exceptional in leading the 49ers run-first offense, and back Frank Gore has turned back the clock with a sensational campaign. Once receivers Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree return from injuries, the offense will be significantly more dynamic, and that should be a scary proposition for the rest of the NFC.

    The defense has been stout as usual, and rookie safety Eric Reid is emerging as a very good player. 

    San Francisco enters its bye at 6-2 and is in the conversation for the best team in football. 

    Next Game: Carolina (Week 10)

New Orleans Saints

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    Odds: 15/2

    The Saints took out their two-week frustrations on the Bills, soundly beating them 35-17 in Week 8 to improve their record to 6-1.

    While the offense will always get the headlines with coach Sean Payton and superstar quarterback Drew Brees, it's been coordinator Rob Ryan's defense that has made all the difference for the Saints, as the unit is ranked seventh overall.

    It's critical for New Orleans to keep racking up wins, as it's a much different team away from home than it is in the Superdome. 

    The Saints are the clear favorite to win the NFC South, and a definite Super Bowl contender.

    Next Game: @ NY Jets

Seattle Seahawks

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    Odds: 9/2

    It might have been ugly, but Seattle banked a huge win on Monday night in St. Louis, beating the Rams 14-9 to improve its record to 7-1 and stay atop the NFC West.

    It wasn't exactly a vintage performance for the offense, which struggled mightily. Quarterback Russell Wilson was under pressure all game, as the offensive line looked helpless. It desperately needs injured tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini back in the lineup.

    The defense has been great, led by safety Earl Thomas, who is having an absolutely magnificent season.

    Expect the Seahawks to improve to 8-1 by smashing the Bucs on Sunday. If they can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, pencil them in for the Super Bowl.

    Next Game: Tampa Bay

Denver Broncos

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    Odds: 13/4

    In the third quarter of Week 8's game against Washington, Denver trailed 21-7 and looked to be on its way to a second consecutive loss. And then, the universe returned to normal, with the Broncos putting up 38 unanswered points on their way to a 45-21 victory that ran their record to 7-1.

    Quarterback Peyton Manning is the NFL's MVP at the midway point, as he's been nothing short of spectacular. Denver has 44 touchdowns this year, which is 17 more than the second-best team. It's been a dazzling, dizzying display all season long.

    The bye comes at an excellent time for Denver, as Manning gets time off to recuperate his injured ankles. The time will also give pass-rushing demon Von Miller more of an opportunity to become re-acclimated to the defense, which will only help down the stretch.

    Even though the Broncos are 7-1 and the Chiefs are 8-0, Denver has to be considered the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl because of Manning.

    Next Game: @ San Diego (Week 10)