The last time I visited my Super Bowl predictions was just days before the regular season started. Training camp was over, the preseason was done, and we were just waiting. It wasn't perfect - like many, I was far too high on both the Cardinals and especially the Panthers. For the most part, though, things are in decent shape compared to what I hoped for - better than some years. Here's a look at where the odds sit now (Odds to win the Super Bowl are from BetOnline):
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New England Patriots (+400): Heading into the season I had the Patriots finishing second in the AFC in the playoffs - losing the AFC Championship Game. I'm still fine with that prediction. I like a whole lot about what they have done, obviously - surviving at 3-1 without Tom Brady was close to the best-case scenario. Their coaching is exceptional, the talent is strong, and there is room to improve - Gronkowski can only improve, for the most obvious of examples. Tom Brady is healthy and rested, and that's going to be an asset down the stretch, too. Tough team. I'm not betting on them, but I have no issue with them being the favorites.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+600): Before the season the Steelers were at +850. I picked them to win the Super Bowl then. The only thing that has changed is that I liked that price better than this one. Aside from that head-scratcher of a non-performance against the Eagles they have looked very good this year. The offense is very efficient, and Big Ben is throwing touchdowns at will. The defense is functional. They are experienced and well coached. I'm not changing my mind - the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl. Now, in two weeks the Pats travel to Pittsburgh for what should be a spectacular showdown. I reserve the right to change my opinion then, but for now I'm content.
Seattle Seahawks (+750): I was skeptical of the Seahawks entering the season. Despite the 3-1 start I remain that way. I don't feel like they are a bad team by any means, but they are a touch off of where they have been, and that is going to stop them from going deep enough. They will not win the NFC.
Minnesota Vikings (+800): I was wrong about this team for obvious reasons. I assumed, like may, that the loss of Teddy Bridgewater would be a serious blow for this squad. Not only have they done fine without him thanks to the play of Sam Bradford, but they have not looked even somewhat bothered by the change. Or the loss of Adrian Peterson, who was supposed to be the centerpiece of this offense this year. Or the absence of top receiver Stefon Diggs last time out. This is a mentally-tough team with a very strong defense. I sure didn't have them winning the NFC before, but I do now.
Green Bay Packers (+850): I picked the Packers to win the conference before the season. I obviously haven't now. There are a couple of reasons. First, I just don't like them as much as I like Minnesota. Second, the Packers aren't all I hoped they would be. They are a solid team, but in too many ways they look like less than they have been. Probably a playoff team, but not enough to win it all as they stand now.
Denver Broncos (+1000): I was respectful of the defense but skeptical of the offense heading into the season. Now, five weeks later, I am respectful of the defense but skeptical of the offense. Last week they showed that they are in trouble if Trevor Siemian can't go. If you need a guy like Siemian in charge to shine then you don't have an elite offense. The game last week really concerned me. They lost at home to Atlanta. The Falcons are hot offensively right now, but in the AFC they face at least two offenses that are more talented and more experienced and proven than Atlanta. That's a problem.
Atlanta Falcons (+1600): Great start. I'm not buying it. The Falcons are like the Bengals - they always find a way to crumble when the pressure is on. They look strong now, but their true selves will emerge at some point. It's as inevitable as death and taxes.
Dallas Cowboys (+1600): We can't truly judge this team for another couple of weeks. I like the start a lot obviously, but until we have clarity at QB we can't do much more. We don't know if Tony Romo will come back healthy and when that will happen. We don't know if he will be given the starting job when he does return - though it is very likely that he will. We don't know if he can stay healthy or if he'll just go down again like he did last year. We don't know how the offense will respond to him. We just can't yet judge this team at this price, so we have to pass.
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