New York Giants: Sports betting website BovadaLV released its 2012 Super Bowl odds on Monday, mere hours after Eli Manning led the Giants to their second Super Bowl in five seasons, and eight teams were listed above Big Blue as favorites. Whatever.
Yes, the Giants have some player personnel decisions to make this offseason — specifically Osi Umenyiora, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs. And sure, they have an incredibly difficult schedule, loaded with games against the Saints, Packers, Ravens and Steelers.
But they're the champs, and they're led by Eli "Easy E" Manning.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers went 15-1 in the regular season, only to fall to the Giants at home in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers, the league MVP, comes back in 2012 with most of the team's key parts locked up. Expect some sort of purge of high-priced veteran talent (Donald Driver? Chad Clifton?), as that's the Ted Thompson way.
Then expect an angry and motivated Packers squad to come out guns blazing next season.
New Orleans Saints: Had the Saints beaten a bad Rams or Bucs team earlier in the season, they would have had homefield versus the 49ers, and the outcome of the rest of the 2011 postseason could have been drastically different. Alas, they didn't.
Mark Ingram is back and healthy next season, but both Marques Colston and Carl Nicks could leave via free agency (if one isn't given the franchise tag).
Drew Brees happens to be a free agent, too, but he's not going anywhere.
Worth noting: No team from the Super Bowl host city has ever won the game and the combined records of the last four Super Bowl host city teams ('08 Bucs, '09 Dolphins, 2010 Cowboys, 2011 Colts) is 18-46.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers won't be catching anybody by surprise next year and that's fine.
They're good enough to beat you whether you respect them or not. That front seven — all of whom appear to be under contract next season — is without a doubt the best group in the league. Alex Smith and Carlos Rogers need to be re-signed (or not re-signed), and playmakers at receiver need to be added.
But the Niners are real contenders in 2012.
Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and Ben Grubbs are technically free agents, but I'd be surprised if any of the three players ended up playing elsewhere next season.
When asked if he'd be playing in the Pro Bowl next year, Ray Lewis said, "no." Not because he wouldn't be playing at that level at 39-years-old, but because there will be no Pro Bowl trips for any Ravens next year — they'll be going to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore was just a few unfortunate plays away from representing the AFC in the Super Bowl in 2011. They'll be right back in the thick of things in 2012.
New England Patriots: In the wake of another Sunday's Super Bowl loss, it's easy to forget just what a fine coaching job Bill Belichick did with his Patriots in 2012.
Back in August, Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth were considered the biggest additions to the Patriots roster. Instead, guys like Sterling Moore, Julian Edelman, Mark Anderson and Brandon Spikes played leading roles in New England's AFC Championship season.
Assuming Rob Gronkowski's ankle heals and the Patriots bring back the core of their squad, they'll be in the mix come next January, too.