As far as stock offerings go, the Green Bay Packers' $62.5 million stock sale lacked the speculative lure of some recent IPOs. The Packers are selling stakes in online coupons, social networks or even bets on the future of the Eurozone. Shares in Wisconsin's favorite nonprofit do not pay dividends, cannot be sold and will never appreciate in value, unless owners get Aaron Rodgers' autograph on the piece of paper and list it on eBay.
On the other hand, buying a piece of stock stuck at a set value might be a more profitable route than laying down any money on a bet for the Packers to win the Super Bowl. A second consecutive Green Bay championship looks even more inevitable after their last-minute win over the Giants last week, and the Giants have some experience stopping sure things.
At some point the Packers will lose a game. It may not be until next year, but it could, theoretically at least, happen sooner. Most of the teams that seem capable of halting Green Bay's march to another championship reside in the AFC, so you should consider this list as mostly a potential Super Bowl preview.
In the NFC, only one team seems to have the recipe for stopping Rodgers and the Packers.
Super Bowl Odds: +650
Drew Brees and the Saints are the one NFC team capable of matching Green Bay in an orgy of touchdowns, as we saw in the opening game of the season. Like that game, the problem for the Saints will be their defense; it just doesn't seem capable of shutting down Rodgers' offensive attack. Green Bay doesn't turn the ball over very much, which would severely limit the Saints defense. The Saints don't get to the passer enough to do what the Giants did to the Patriots.
That takes us to the Super Bowl, where a select few AFC teams could actually stand in the way of Green Bay and perfection.
Super Bowl Odds: +425
This would be fitting, wouldn't it? The last time the Patriots made a trip to the Super Bowl was the loss that ended their perfect run. If you're a fan of narratives, you might be rooting for this scenario. Tom Brady versus Aaron Rodgers would be a matchup for the ages, and both teams can score the points needed to beat the other. However, like the Saints, the question for the Patriots is whether or not their defense could do just enough to stop the Packers. New England does force turnovers, tied for second in interceptions. They also allow more yards per game than any other team, despite holding opponents to fewer than 21 points per game. A game between the Patriots and the Packers would favor Green Bay, but it might be the most even matchup of any.
Super Bowl Odds: +900
Baltimore's vaunted defense has the best chance of any in the league to clamp down on the Packers offense. Their two wins over the Steelers this year showed an ability to play up to the game. Of course, losses to the Jaguars and Seahawks suggest serious lapses. The biggest question for Baltimore is whether or not they can score enough points to win. Because their defense could legitimately hold Green Bay to 24 or fewer points, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice would only have to do so much.
Super Bowl Odds: +2000
The Texans are definitely the outlier on this list. Some of that has to do with predisposition; after all, it is the Texans. When you look at the stats, it makes more sense. Using Football Outsiders' DVOA report, the Texans are one of the most balanced teams in the league, ranking in the top ten for both offensive and defensive efficiency. They rank fifth in both categories. One reason the Texans could be a real hurdle is their secondary. Who would have thought during the offseason, that signing Jonathan Joseph would have been the most important free agent move, especially considering the Eagles undertakings. If Houston still had Matt Schaub and Mario Williams, this would be an even more dangerous matchup for Green Bay.
Super Bowl Odds: +900
We've seen this one before, and this year's Steelers are not as good as last year's version, particularly on defense. I would question whether or not Pittsburgh can score the points needed, but with a reasonable level of pass protection and preventing turnovers, they might pose just enough of a problem for Green Bay's defense. Where Pittsburgh has regressed the most is on the other side of the ball. The Steelers' three losses this season, twice to Baltimore and once to Houston, came against teams with a powerful rushing attack, something Green Bay lacks. Still, it doesn't look like enough of a mismatch to prevent exactly what we saw last February.
There are probably a could other teams capable of playing up to their absolute best and taking advantage of whatever lucky bounce they get to stop the inevitable. It could happen. Still, you might want to reconsider shelling out for some of that stock.