The road to Super Bowl LVII starts in early September and, despite all the preseason hot takes and analysis, the real contenders usually only truly begin to emerge in December.
That's what happened last year when the Los Angeles Rams, 7-4 going into the month, went on a five-game tear-up to clinch the NFC West title and set themselves on the path to glory.
AFC champions Cincinnati Bengals were also slow out of the gate, sitting 5-4 going into their bye week and 7-6 just before Christmas, before hitting form to snatch the conference crown.
But, generally, the team that eventually gets their hands on the Lombardi Trophy is listed near the top of the betting market, with 33 of the 45 Super Bowl winners since 1977 having preseason odds of 15/1 or shorter.
In the past 10 seasons, seven champions have been rated 10/1 or better before a ball has been snapped, so it's natural to look for similarities at this stage of the year.
|What||NFL Season 2022/23|
|Where||All across the U.S.A with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City.|
|When||8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023|
|How to watch||The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports, Channel 5 and Amazon Prime.|
BUF Bills 6/1, TB Buccaneers 7/1, KC Chiefs 10/1, LA Rams 11/1, GB Packers 12/1.
Tagged as the 6/1 preseason Super Bowl favourites, the Buffalo Bills have everything in place to make a deep playoff run.
Sean McDermott's team are talented, hungry and can harness the feeling of being wronged in last season's overtime postseason exit to the Kansas City Chiefs to their advantage.
The 10/1 Chiefs have been their nemesis for the past two years, but should be no longer as Buffalo QB Josh Allen has proved he can operate in the same rarefied air as the best triggermen in the game when the chips are down.
The Bills can give themselves a greater edge in any rematch if they can claim home-field advantage by clinching the AFC's top playoff seed, but, in order to do that they must surely improve on last season's 11-game regular season win total.
The 18/1 Bengals overcame a huge offensive line weakness to make it to the Super Bowl last year and, with that problem seemingly fixed, should not be written off for a repeat run.
Cincinnati's acquisition of three new veteran starters to an O-line that gave up 70 sacks between the regular and postseasons should ensure QB Joe Burrow stays upright in the pocket for longer.
If Ja'Marr Chase can replicate his incredible rookie campaign performances then the Bengals could overcome a tough-looking schedule to put themselves in title contention again.
And having won back-to-back road playoff games last year, no one will want to be facing Zac Taylor's team in the postseason.
The Rams have retained 16 of the 22 starters from their Super Bowl win, but repeat victories are rare in the NFL as players' performance levels can vary dramatically from one season to another - as can their hunger.
Sean McVay remains a superb leader and play-caller, but his team will have a huge target on their backs this year and may lack depth in certain areas as they face up to a brutal schedule.
Tom Brady is back in Tampa and ready to lead the Buccaneers, 3/1 to re-take the NFC crown, back to the Super Bowl after a peculiar offseason.
He returns alongside a talented roster that has lost some other veteran leaders and with a new coach at the helm.
The early indications are that the Bucs, who face a testing opening few weeks with games against fellow conference contenders New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, could adopt a different identity this year.
But with Brady's voice carrying so much weight and his game almost guaranteed to go up a notch in the playoffs, Tampa Bay will be there or thereabouts when it matters.
In the AFC, the Chiefs have undeniably been the conference's greatest power in the last four years.
But that could all change as the Tyreek Hill trade leaves quarterback Patrick Mahomes without a key offensive weapon, while a couple of the Chiefs' important defensive starters were allowed to walk in free agency.
Mahomes will need to lean on TE Travis Kelce more than ever this year as Kansas City face easily the hardest schedule in the league based on their opponents' forecasted win totals.
The Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins have garnered a lot of admiration for their bold offseason moves which put them firmly in the win-now category, but another less-heralded team has made major upgrades too.
In Matt Ryan, the Indianapolis Colts finally have a quarterback who looks capable of holding their offense together and avoiding the miscues of his predecessors.
With the NFL's most devastating rusher behind Ryan and one of the top defensive units - led by arguably the best linebacker in the business - on the other side of the football, the Colts can make a run for the AFC prize.