NFL Football Teams

The current lineup of 32 professional football teams has been steady since 2002, when the Houston Texas joined the league. Since then, the teams have been split into two conferences, which are further broken up into four divisions, each consisting of four teams.

At the end of each season, each division’s winner plus the two highest-performing non-divisional champions enter a twelve-team playoff made up of four rounds, including a first round in which the top two teams from each conference earn a bye week.

Learning how to bet on football requires an understanding of all 32 of the league’s teams. Even casual bettors, interested only in playoff wagering or bets on their favorite team, can benefit from research into the league’s entire slate of competition.

Here is a list of each pro football team, their division, their conference, and some notes on their anticipated performance in the 2014-2015 NFL season.

National Football Conference (NFC) Teams

Three expansion teams have joined the NFC since its creation in 1970 – Carolina, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. The NFC is currently considered the more powerful conference, being home to the winner of five out of the last seven Super Bowls and to some of the league’s most dominant offenses and athletes.

Eastern Division (NFC East)

Dallas Cowboys

“America’s Team” has been in a playoff drought for some time, having won exactly one playoff game in the last 16 years. The knock on the Cowboys this year? Analysts expect the team may line up one of the worst defensive squads in the game. A playoff run is very unlikely this year in Dallas.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

New York Giants

After a disappointing 7-9 record last season, the Giants are hoping that Eli Manning will rebound and return to his elite form. The New York front office spent tens of millions of dollars this offseason to shore up a pathetic offensive line, but the Giants are likely to need another year of rebuilding, even if the lesser Manning brother has a monster season.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

Philadelphia Eagles

The most likely team to win the NFC East, Philadelphia will lean on the surprise success last year of starting QB Nick Foles as well as improved defensive play to attempt to get past the Wild Card round of this year’s post-season. Watch for LB Mychal Kendricks to have a breakout season.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 25 to 1

Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III could be one of the elite players in league history – unfortunately, he’s stuck with one of the worst defenses in the league. The Redskins won just one game against NFC East opponents last season; it’s unclear whether a conservative approach to rebuilding the defense will be enough to improve that number much this year.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 50 to 1

Western Division (NFC West)

Arizona Cardinals

Carson Palmer’s inability to capitalize on a talented receiving core is the main symptom of the Cardinals’ struggles in recent seasons. Though Palmer is past his prime as an elite QB, there is enough offensive ability in Arizona to lead to a playoff run. Unfortunately, the NFC West is the league’s toughest division – two games apiece against San Francisco and Seattle this season won’t do the Cardinals any favors.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 50 to 1

San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco’s games were a blast to watch last season, thanks to starting QB Colin Kaepernick’s lights-out play and the continued leadership of Jim Harbaugh. Anyone who doesn’t expect San Francisco to be a playoff contender is ignoring a solid offseason that only strengthened one of the league’s best teams last year.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 8 to 1

Seattle Seahawks

The returning Super Bowl champions are a heavy favorite this preseason to win it all. Some losses in the offseason, including changes that significantly weaken the offensive line, could slow Russell Wilson’s march to a two-peat. Despite that, Seattle is the standing favorite to win the league’s championship next January.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 6 to 1

St. Louis Rams

The Rams are unlikely to do much damage in the NFL this year. A few facets of the team’s approach this season could change that outlook – improvements at the wide receiver position and even more added depth on the defensive line. This year’s Rams should be better than the 2013 version, but not by much.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 80 to 1

Northern Division (NFC North)

Chicago Bears

The Bears finished 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs. Sprucing up the defense this offseason with the addition of three capable DE’s should help balance the team’s overall performance. The stars of the show in Chicago are still the receiving duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. For the Bears to make the postseason in 2014, Jay Cutler will have to have an outstanding season, and the defense will have to protect better against the rush.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

Detroit Lions

The 2013-2014 version of the Lions finished the season 1-6 and missed out on what was considered a sure spot in the playoffs. QB Matthew Stafford deserves much of the blame; the Lions front office hired two new quarterbacks coaches this offseason to help him rise to the elite level he’s capable of. Stafford’s downward spiral and Detroit’s weakness against the pass should keep them out of competition for a divisional title this season.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

Green Bay Packers

The big question mark for the Packers this year is the health of Aaron Rodgers. The team’s regular season performance has been on the decline for three seasons in a row thanks to the team’s defensive weaknesses, particularly at the LB/DE position. Adding Julius Peppers may have helped, but it won’t be enough for the Pack to beat Seattle or San Francisco, which they’ll likely need to do to win it all this season.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

Minnesota Vikings

After finishing last in the division last season, the Vikings had their work cut out for them this offseason. Drafting Terry Bridgewater didn’t do much to clear up the team’s QB controversy – questions over his league-readiness are valid. A change at head coach could mean a few seasons of rebuilding for Vikings fans.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

Southern Division (NFC South)

Atlanta Falcons

For the Falcons, this year is all about improving on an already-dominant defensive core. Adding Javier Arenas and Josh Wilson could mean the Falcons “shut-down” defense is on display even more often than last season. Unlikely to beat out the Saints for the Divisional title, expect the Falcons to compete for a Wild Card spot this offseason.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 30 to 1

Carolina Panthers

An impressive 2013-2014 season, capped by a trip to the playoffs, means Carolina should be set up for an excellent year. Can Cam Newton stay healthy? If so, and if the team’s once-elite RBs can return (somewhat) to form, the Panthers could surprise analysts again this year with an explosive offense.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

New Orleans Saints

The 2013-2014 Saints have nothing to be ashamed of, having turned in a record of 11-5 and ending their season with a loss to eventual league champs Seattle. The team needs to find a way to win more often on the road (since 2006, the Saints are just 36-28 on the road) and answer some questions about the running game after the loss of Darren Sproles. Consider the Saints the favorite to win the NFC South.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 15 to 1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith is in at head coach in Tampa Bay; Greg Schiano is out. Hopefully this signals a new era for the Bucs, whose 5-11 record last season was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Now that Tampa Bay is rebuilding even more, there’s no reason to expect much improvement.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 60 to 1

American Football Conference (AFC) Teams

In recent years, the AFC’s conference champion has been defeated by the NFC’s best team in the league’s championship more often than not. That’s led some to suggest that the NFC is a superior conference or at least that NFC teams’ generally-superior offenses are outplaying the AFC’s defenses. The best AFC teams are seen as defensive heavyweights, though with proven historical offenses like Tom Brady and the Patriots (not to mention Denver’s recent offensive dominance), it isn’t fair to say that the AFC is weak offensively.

Eastern Division (AFC East)

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have been looking for something to push them over the hump for years, since their conference dominance in the 90s. Can young QB E.J. Manuel stay healthy? Will a new defensive scheme weaken a fairly-strong performance last season, or improve it? The Bills lost too many quality pieces (including their star defensive coordinator Mike Pettine) to be considered competitive in 2014.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 80 to 1

Miami Dolphins

Major changes to the offensive line could give Miami the charge it needs to make a run for the playoffs. Keeping the talented but vulnerable Ryan Tannehill healthy should be the team’s first priority. If that happens, and if RB Knowshon Moreno would start to produce at the level he’s capable of, Miami could be on their way to postseason play. It’s just not likely this season.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 60 to 1

New England Patriots

The Patriots are, once again, slated to win the AFC East. After going 12-4, New England lost the AFC Championship to a talented Denver team. The trick to the Pat’s 2014-2015 season is remaining healthy. If some new pieces on the O-line can keep Tom Brady out of harm’s way, and if Stevan Ridley improves his abilities in the short-yardage game, New England could easily challenge Denver for the conference title.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 10 to 1

New York Jets

This offseason, the Jets lost Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, Ed Reed, and Kellen Winslow. That comes on the heels of an 8-8 record that should have been more like 6-10. The Geno Smith vs. Michael Vick QB controversy could distract more than anything, since neither player is really a proven elite producer in this league.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 75 to 1

Western Division (AFC West)

Denver Broncos

Yes, the Broncos and their leader Peyton Manning took a beating in the Super Bowl last season. But with so little competition to speak of in the AFC (and the West division in particular) there are few analysts who doubt that Denver will make another long run in the postseason. Denver faces a tougher schedule this year, but is still the odds-on favorite to win their conference and find themselves in another league championship.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 6 to 1

Kansas City Chiefs

An 11-5 performance last season, anchored by an incredible year for RB Jamaal Charles, may be too much to expect from the Chiefs this year, considering the team cut three valuable defensive players this offseason, including a Pro Bowl cornerback, a starting FS, and the defense’s most-veteran nickelback. Playing four games a year against Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers is no easy task with a good defense, but with the question marks hovering over Kansas City’s ability to defend the pass, the Chiefs record could actually get worse in the 2014-2015 season.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 35 to 1

Oakland Raiders                                                                                                                 

The Raiders need help in a big way, and the team expects it to come from Matt Schaub, the former Texans QB blamed for that team’s dramatic downfall last season. An RB core led by an aging veteran in Maurice Jones-Drew and the injury-prone Darren McFadden isn’t promising. The Raiders are expected to turn in a disappointing performance, something along the lines of last season’s 4-12 record.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 225 to 1

San Diego Chargers

After nearly upsetting Denver in last year’s Divisional round, the Chargers were in a good position to become even more competitive this offseason. Unfortunately, a tougher schedule this season plus questions about the health of elite pass rusher Melvin Ingram have led to a step backwards instead.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

Northern Division (AFC North)

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore turned in an 8-8 record last year, missing the playoffs for the first time in the team’s seven seasons under head coach John Harbaugh. Star RB Ray Rice averaged just 3.1 yards per carry last year, making the Ravens one of the worst rushing teams in the league. That must improve if Baltimore wants to use power defense to make a playoff run.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 35 to 1

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals just parked a money truck in front of Andy Dalton’s front door, a move that indicates how badly the team needs their starting QB to push for this team to be playoff-eligible. The loss of DE Michael Johnson immediately made the team’s whole defense worse. The Bengals will compete for the AFC North title, but don’t expect too far of a run into the postseason without career numbers out of Dalton and a surprise defensive replacement for Johnson.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 30 to 1

Cleveland Browns

So much about this year’s Browns is untested – the team has a new head coach in Mike Pettine, a new QB sensation in Johnny Manziel, and a new emphasis on press man-to-man coverage in the secondary. With so many unknowns, it is unlikely that the Browns will somehow become competitive for the coming year after finishing 4-12 last year.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 75 to 1

Pittsburgh Steelers

No doubt the Steelers and Bengals will duke it out for AFC North dominance, but it’s not clear that Pittsburgh has made enough changes to make a run at the post-season. In a shot at instantly improving on a disappointing 8-8 record last year, the Steelers made major changes in their defensive front seven. How these new pieces will fit together is unclear.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 35 to 1

Southern Division (AFC South)

Houston Texans

The Texans’ historic collapse (losing their final fourteen games in a row) led to the expulsion of both starting QB Matt Schaub and head coach Gary Kubiak. The league’s worst team drafted potential superstar Jadeveon Clowney in the first round, despite some big needs on offense. Can the Texans improve their running game to compensate for rebuilding in the passing game? It’s unlikely after such an abysmal performance last year.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 40 to 1

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis has reloaded and is poised to make a deep run at the playoffs this year after an impressive 2013 season that ended earlier than expected. If third-year RB Trent Richardson finally has a break-out season, or if cornerbacks Darius Butler or Loucheiz Purifoy over-perform, the Colts could be scary down the stretch. Expect the Colts to take the AFC South divisional title this year.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 25 to 1

Jacksonville Jaguars

Questions at the QB position, a poor performance last season, and historical difficulty recovering from a losing season (the Jags have only improved from a losing record to a berth in the playoffs once in the team’s two decade history) probably add up to very bad news for Jacksonville this season.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 225 to 1

Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker led the Titans to an early 3-1 start last season before injury sidelined him and his team’s chances of taking advantage of a weakened AFC South. If Locker can stay healthy, no doubt the Titans will have a better season. However, the loss of RB Chris Johnson will take at least another full season and offseason to recover from.

Early odds to win Super Bowl – 75 to 1

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