With the Super Bowl barely 24 hours out of the way, we're not set to go full power rankings on your asses. But let's reset and begin to focus on 2013 with a look at the 10 teams that should be considered the best in the league before free agency, the draft and the rest of the offseason.
1. New England Patriots (Vegas odds: 6-to-1, 1st in NFL): I can't imagine anyone will enter 2013 as an overwhelming favorite, but that rarely happens nowadays. The Patriots are still the most stacked and best-coached team in football. The young defense should only get better and a healthy Rob Gronkowski sure won't hurt the offense. These guys aren't going anywhere.
2. Denver Broncos (8-to-1, 3rd): The league's most dominant team from October forward in 2012 simply picked a bad time to have a not-so-great game in January, but putting up 35 points and losing in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champions isn't anything to be too embarrassed about. So long as Peyton Manning and Von Miller are doing their thing, this team will be a heavy favorite in the AFC West and a prime Super Bowl contender.
3. San Francisco 49ers (7-to-1, 2nd): What's with the slow starts? And where'd the pass rush go? They're still young and filled with talent, but the Niners have some things to figure out in the offseason. I think it'll be a battle between them and the Seahawks all year long in the race for NFC supremacy.
4. Seattle Seahawks (12-to-1, 6th): If only they had gotten hot sooner and had the chance to host some playoff games, this team seriously could have been in New Orleans this past weekend. Now, Russell Wilson has a full offseason to prepare as the starter and they have a chance to load up and give him some more weapons. What's scary is that the 'Hawks have quite a lot of cap space.
5. Baltimore Ravens (14-to-1, 7th): History certainly indicates that winning it one year doesn't make you the best team headed into the following season. Baltimore has quite a few key free agents, some of whom will be overpaid to go elsewhere. The pressure to repeat is still a factor, and I don't think they have the talent that New England, Denver, San Fran, Seattle, Green Bay, Atlanta or even Houston possess.
6. Green Bay Packers (10-to-1, 4th): I'm not giving the Packers as much credit as Vegas is because I don't know that I trust that defense after seeing what happened to them against the 49ers to finish the year. I do realize that the D was in bad shape when they won the Super Bowl a few years ago, but this team still has some holes. I think they're losing ground to San Fran and Seattle in the NFC.
7. Atlanta Falcons (16-to-1, 8th): They took a leap forward with a playoff victory this year and there's little reason to believe they won't be heavy-duty contenders for many years to come. We've had five different Super Bowl winners in five consecutive years, so maybe this will be Atlanta's turn. After all, the Falcons are the NFC's winningest team since Matt Ryan came into the league and Mike Smith took over in 2008.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (30-to-1, 12th): I know the Bengals have been pretty unpredictable over the years, but they're coming off back-to-back playoff seasons for the first time since 1982. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are only getting better, that defense is vicious and Cincinnati went 7-1 during the second half of the 2012 season. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them win the AFC North in 2013.
9. Houston Texans (10-to-1, 4th): You can't deny that they're one of the most talented, balanced teams in the league, but I keep them lower on this list because of the way they struggled late, losing four of their last six games from Week 14 forward. They were manhandled twice by New England late, too. Sometimes I'm just not sure Matt Schaub has a Super Bowl run in him.
10. Dallas Cowboys (30-to-1, 12th): Dallas was one of the most injured teams in the league this year, yet the Cowboys still managed to earn a meaningful Week 17 game with the NFC East title on the line. Considering how good Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant looked down the stretch, and considering that Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and other key defenders will be back in 2013, I'm thinking the 'Boys could shock the league next year.
Honorable mention: New Orleans Saints (16-to-1, 8th): Sean Payton's return and fewer distractions could mean a big comeback for a very talented team, but that defense was still comically bad last season so I'm not willing to move them back into the elite category just yet.
The rest of the odds, via the Las Vegas Sun:
Steelers — 14-to-1
Giants — 20-to-1
Redskins — 30-to-1
Bears — 30-to-1
Chargers — 40-to-1
Lions — 40-to-1
Vikings — 40-to-1
Colts — 40-to-1
Panthers — 50-to-1
Jets — 50-to-1
Eagles — 50-to-1
Dolphins — 50-to-1
Rams — 50-to-1
Browns — 50-to-1
Chiefs — 50-to-1
Buccaneers — 60-to-1
Titans — 100-to-1
Bills — 100-to-1
Cardinals — 100-to-1
Raiders — 150-to-1