As we inch closer and closer to the conclusion of the 2015 NFL season, we realize that there are only a handful of teams with legitimate chances to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year. Unlike college football, where the astounding parity forces the overall standings to fluctuate on a week-to-week basis, the National Football League has a pretty substantial gap between the clubs that contend and the ones that simply pretend. And worst of all, everyone knows it.
With Week 16 of the 2015 season now officially in the books, the oddsmakers in Vegas have a good sense of which teams are in the best position to finish the year at the peak of the NFL mountain. So, if you want to use this intel for your personal gain or simply wish to better your football acumen, we hope you enjoy this look at the five teams with the best chances of winning Super Bowl 50.
5. Denver Broncos
It took longer than most probably anticipated, but with a 20-17 overtime victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, the Denver Broncos finally punched their ticket to the postseason. Barring any major developments, it appears that the team at the top of the AFC West standings — with its current 11-4 record — will look to young quarterback Brock Osweiler to try and lead them to the promised land. We just hope that all the noise surrounding Peyton Manning and the Al Jazeera PED report doesn’t end up being too much of a distraction come playoff time.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Just when it looked like Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks were unstoppable, the St. Louis Rams opted to play the role of spoiler, taking down Pete Carroll’s bunch 23-17 for the organization’s first win in Seattle since 2004. Although this loss snapped Seattle’s five-game win streak, the Seahawks had already secured their spot in the upcoming playoffs. And if these past two seasons have taught us anything, it’s that once the postseason gets underway, that’s when the two-time defending NFC champions (and winners of Super Bowl XLVIII) truly strut their stuff.
3. Carolina Panthers
Following an unexpected 20-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers’ bid for an undefeated 2015 season officially ended. Still, as fun as it would’ve been to see this group make history, its latest hiccup may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Now, instead of being forced to deal with the pressure that comes with playing for perfection, Cam Newton and company can focus on being fully prepared for the playoffs ahead. We have a strong feeling they’ll be ready to go.
2. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots should feel pretty good about themselves. They have a 12-3 record, sit at the top of their division, and hold the No. 1 position in the AFC standings. However, following their 26-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets in Week 16, it’s become increasingly clear that injuries are finally taking a toll on the Patriots. Ultimately, we fully expect coach Bill Belichick to make the adjustments necessary to right the ship. However, in the end, the road to a repeat as Super Bowl champs may prove to be harder for Tom Brady and company than we previously anticipated.
1. Arizona Cardinals
If you wondered how the Arizona Cardinals would deal with the devastating injury suffered by safety Tyrann Mathieu in Week 15, their response could be summed up in one word: motivated. Behind a well-balanced offense and a stingy defense that forced four turnovers, the best in the NFC West completely decimated the Green Bay Packers in Week 16 by a score of 38-8. As we look ahead to the final week of the 2015 regular season, any way you slice it, one thing remains abundantly clear: The Arizona Cardinals are the team to beat.
Odds courtesy of sportsbook.ag.