As I write this, the silence surrounding the National Football League is deafening.
The stadiums are calm, with only the echoes of past conquests reverberating through the corridors. The talk radio lines are full of the excited whispers of eager fans. There is no clamoring for the backup. There are no coaches blowing gaskets in media sessions. And the talking heads are nearly out of stupid questions (for now).
It's like Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, and that 15 minutes after Confession rolled into one. Right now everyone's record is perfect. There have no blown assignments or missed calls. No one has dropped a pass or mismanaged the clock during a two-minute drill.
At this moment, endless possibility is coursing through the veins of all 32 teams in the NFL. Right now, players and fans across the nation are sitting somewhere thinking, “This is our year" or “Why not us?" Anyone can be the next Warner or Roethlisberger or Brady. Anyone can be a champion.
But it won't last. It can't. Come Monday morning it will all have changed. The menacing vibrations will have overwhelmed the silence. Pride and desperation will sink in, and so many people will be wretched back into reality. Nature will take its course, and the fittest will survive.
So enjoy it while it lasts. And remember, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing every dies. "
Super Bowl XL will be held on Feb. 5 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. As of right now the AFC is a 4.5 point favorite over the NFC. Here are the odds for every team to get to and win the Big Game and some 2006 Super Bowl predictions:
Arizona Cardinals (40/1) - Dennis Green has them on the right track.
Atlanta Falcons (15/1) - Franchise has never had back-to-back winning seasons. Their schedule is brutal.
Baltimore Ravens (14/1) - This defense isn't as good as the one that won it in 2000. But it's close.
Buffalo Bills (35/1) - I know it's pretty much impossible for a rookie QB to win a Super Bowl. But who say's that Losman will be under center all season?
Carolina Panthers (14/1) - SI cover jinx, anyone? Oh, and Steve Karsay's kickoff out of bounds in 2003 is the most underrated Super Bowl choke ever.
Chicago Bears (65/1) - They're a QB and a WR away from being a serious contender. I'm dead serious. But I guess you could say that about a lot of teams.
Cincinnati Bengals (40/1) - If they were in the NFC, I'd have them in the playoffs. But they're not.
Cleveland Browns (150/1) - Don't get crazy.
Dallas Cowboys (22/1) - Parcells’ last stand. Nice value here for a team with talent and veteran leadership.
Denver Broncos (33/1) - Do you trust Jake Plummer? After last season I vowed never to defend him again.
Detroit Lions (40/1) - I still don't see a playoff team here.
Green Bay Packers (38/1) - Favre will go down with his guns blazing. Too bad he'll have to because the defense is easier to score on than Tara Reid.
Houston Texans (60/1) - Front office has mismanaged this team horribly. They should be a contender by now.
Indianapolis Colts (5/1) - If they get home-field advantage it's over. Manning better restructure his deal soon so they can get some defense. Why do I see him not realizing that until it's too late and he's past his prime?
Jacksonville Jaguars (25/1) - I like this team a lot. Defense is smothering, and Leftwich is going to have a breakout year.
Kansas City Chiefs (20/1) - Last stand for an old team. If they had this defense two years ago they'd have a ring.
Miami Dolphins (100/1) - Still good for an upset or two.
Minnesota Vikings (15/1) - Very rarely does a team undergo as much turnover as they have and make the Super Bowl the next year.
New England (6/1) - Who's going to bet against them? Three of four is ridiculous. However, no team has ever won three straight Super Bowls.
New Orleans (60/1) - It's hard to even talk about this team, given everything that's happened. I feel obtuse even saying it, but if there were no Katrina, they may have been a sleeper. New York Giants (65/1) - Week 6: “Plexi sucks! Plexi sucks! Plexi sucks!"
New York Jets (20/1) - High odds for the third best team in their division.
Oakland (30/1) - Every week this is the team no one wants to play. And if they somehow make the playoffs, watch out.
Philadelphia (6/1) - The last four Super Bowl losers didn't even make the playoffs the next year.
Pittsburgh (14/1) - If this team gets healthy, they have the toughness to make a run in January. That's a big if.
San Diego (28/1) - Marty Schottenheimer's career record in the playoffs is 5-12. It's too bad because this is a well-balanced team.
San Francisco (200/1) - Think Alex Smith has gone gay yet?
Seattle (28/1) - They still have a team out there?
St. Louis (35/1) - Mad Martz will do something to screw up all of this talent. Bet on that.
Tampa Bay (50/1) - In some warehouse there's a few thousand Chucky dolls that will never see the light of day.
Tennessee (65/1) - All I'm going to say is that two years ago they were 13-3 and a bad intentional grounding call away from the AFC title game.
Washington (40/1) - This franchise is a wreck. The defense isn't.
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