Rating which teams are closest to being Super Bowl contenders

What is Romo's longevity in NFL? (1:59)

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic debate whether Cowboys QB Tony Romo is capable of playing another four seasons in the NFL and explain why Dallas should consider a backup such as Robert Griffin III. (1:59)

With the Super Bowl matchup set -- Carolina vs. Denver on Feb. 7 -- we asked the NFL Nation reporters covering the 30 teams that won't be playing in February to answer a question:

On a scale of 1-10, how close is the team you cover to being a Super Bowl contender?

Here are their responses, with 1 being nowhere near close to being a contender and 10 being on the brink of playing in the 2017 Super Bowl:

10: On the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance

Arizona Cardinals: Despite a lopsided loss in the NFC title game, Arizona is one of the most complete teams in the NFL with the highest-scoring offense to complement one of the best defenses. This season, the Cardinals were still on the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance without two of their top defensive players, safety Tyrann Mathieu and outside linebacker Alex Okafor. They'll be among the best teams next season. -- Josh Weinfuss

New England Patriots: The Patriots still have coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Rob Gronkowski and a young core on defense that should have them right back in the Super Bowl mix next season. -- Mike Reiss

9: Most of the pieces to contend

Seattle Seahawks: The core is intact. Quarterback Russell Wilson made great strides in 2015, leading the NFL in passer rating, and he is only 27 years old. The defense is young and has finished first in fewest points allowed for four straight years. There are issues to be ironed out -- most notably on the offensive line -- but the Seahawks should go into the 2016 season as one of a handful of Super Bowl favorites. -- Sheil Kapadia

8: Close, but injuries, free agency loom

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers were one Antonio Brown away from playing the Patriots in Foxborough this week with the AFC title on the line. Pittsburgh is the closest it has been to a Super Bowl since the 2010 appearance against Green Bay. The defense isn't all the way there yet, but it's better than some think. For the offense, it's all about injuries, not personnel. If the running backs stay healthy and the line is relatively intact, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Brown and the passing game can do the rest. Pittsburgh took the loss to Denver harshly. This year will fuel them for another run. -- Jeremy Fowler

7: Talented but missing critical pieces

Green Bay Packers: The Packers were one of eight teams still playing on divisional playoff weekend, and they made it that far even though it was one of their worst offensive teams in years. They'll get Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson back next season, and general manager Ted Thompson will surely add another weapon or two for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The defense is finally back to being serviceable, and if the offense returns to its usual production, this team will be right there again. -- Rob Demovsky

Indianapolis Colts: Owner Jim Irsay already has said the offensive line has to get better and the Colts need to get younger at certain positions. The reason the Colts, who missed the playoffs this season, are rated so high is is because quarterback Andrew Luck will be back after missing nine games and having the worst season of his four-year NFL career. When the Colts played the two teams that reached the AFC Championship Game this season, they beat Denver and lost to New England by only seven points. -- Mike Wells

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs almost won their first division championship in five years this season, and with 11 wins were just a game behind the pacesetters in the AFC. But they were exposed in their playoff loss to the Patriots, a game that showed how far the Chiefs are from being elite. -- Adam Teicher

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings need to fix their ragged offensive line. They need to add a dynamic receiving threat, and they need much more from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, so they're not asking running back Adrian Peterson to account for nearly one-third of their yards again at age 31. But their defense should be one of the NFC's best again next season, and in Mike Zimmer the Vikings have a coach who has quickly changed the identity of the franchise. A few good offseason moves should have them among the NFC's contenders in 2016. -- Ben Goessling

Washington Redskins: This might be a bit optimistic, but the Redskins have a good young core offensively, along the line and with talented targets in the passing game -- tight end Jordan Reed and receivers DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder. Quarterback Kirk Cousins showed he could make this offense click. Cousins needs to show he can lead a team deep in the postseason, though (yes, the bar gets raised for him again). And the defense needs plenty of work, though they will be helped by the return of outside linebacker Junior Galette. Also, general manager Scot McCloughan's presence helps them in this quest. -- John Keim

6: More questions than answers

Cincinnati Bengals: Ask how close the Bengals were to a Super Bowl a year ago and the answer probably would have been an 8 or 9. But considering the personnel changes that are coming (and that already have come) to Cincinnati in the next few months, it doesn't appear the Bengals will be as good as they were during this past 12-4, AFC North-winning season. Not to mention, there's the fact the Bengals haven't been to the Super Bowl in 27 years. Cincinnati still will have a talented team in 2016. But five straight wild-card round exits make it hard to believe it is a true Lombardi trophy contender. -- Coley Harvey

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have the most important ingredient of all -- an elite quarterback in Drew Brees, who was already a Super Bowl MVP six years ago. They also have a proven, Super Bowl-winning coach in Sean Payton. However, New Orleans has suffered through back-to-back 7-9 seasons because it has featured one of the NFL's worst defenses and the offensive line has regressed a bit since it was arguably the best in the league from 2009-2011. The Saints do feel like their arrow is pointed back in the right direction after they overhauled the roster last year with nine rookies and five first-year players. But the defense will have to make major strides in coordinator Dennis Allen's first full year on the job to make any kind of run at the Super Bowl. -- Mike Triplett

New York Jets: They have to make the playoffs first, and they haven't done that in five years. The Jets have a win-now roster, with older players such as wide receiver Brandon Marshall, cornerback Darrelle Revis and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (assuming he re-signs), but they need young playmakers at linebacker and running back to reach the next level -- and the level after that. -- Rich Cimini

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have five Pro Bowlers on their roster for the first time since their last Super Bowl season in 2002 and more than doubled their win total, going from 3-13 to 7-9. Oakland also has a young nucleus on the rise in quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper and outside linebacker Khalil Mack. The worm seems to have finally turned for the Raiders, as none of their offseason drama has anything to do with a coach or players. Now, if only we knew where they were going to play in 2016. -- Paul Gutierrez

5: In the middle of the pack

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are difficult to gauge. Two seasons ago, Baltimore was leading eventual Super Bowl champion New England by two touchdowns in the divisional playoffs. Last season, the Ravens had the fifth-most losses in the NFL with 11. Their Super Bowl hopes come down to whether they can stay healthy, draft a couple of impact players and get strong seasons from their older playmakers (wide receiver Steve Smith and outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil). -- Jamison Hensley

Buffalo Bills: It's tough to rate a team that hasn't made the playoffs in 16 years any higher than this, but the Bills have talent that is average to above-average for the NFL. They've advanced from what would have been a 1, 2 or 3 rating a few years ago to where they are now. How can they get to a 6, 7 or 8 rating by this time next year? Quarterback Tyrod Taylor's development and the potential rebound of Rex Ryan's defense will be the keys. -- Mike Rodak

Dallas Cowboys: How can the team that had the worst record in the NFC have a shot to contend next year? It's completely dependent on the return to health of quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant. Romo played parts of four games and the team went 3-1. Bryant had the worst season of his career because of a broken right foot. When they are right, the Cowboys are right. They have issues elsewhere on the roster, but Romo and Bryant can help cover them up by being one of the best quarterback/receiver combinations in the league. -- Todd Archer

Detroit Lions: The Lions have never been to a Super Bowl. They've been to just one conference championship game. Yet the talent on the roster and the aptitude of their coordinators gives them a chance. For the number to get any higher, Detroit would need to retain wide receiver Calvin Johnson, upgrade on the offensive line, the defensive line and linebacker and secure a high-level cornerback to pair opposite Darius Slay. If Johnson retires, the number probably drops to a 3 or 4 depending on whom the team finds as a replacement. -- Michael Rothstein

4: Lots of work to do

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons still have some major rebuilding to do in order to get the roster to compete with a difficult 2016 schedule, let alone compete for a Super Bowl. Getting a secondary receiving threat opposite Julio Jones, bolstering the interior of the offensive line and adding playmakers on the defensive line and at linebacker could help the cause, but that likely can't all be fixed in one year. -- Vaughn McClure

Chicago Bears: A Super Bowl contender in 2016? That's hard to fathom from a franchise that has not even reached the postseason since 2010. The Bears have a couple pieces to build around -- offensive lineman Kyle Long, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (assuming he's back), running back Jeremy Langford, safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Kyle Fuller -- but a ton has to happen this offseason to close the gap between Green Bay and Minnesota in the NFC North. Should be the Bears win more than six games in 2016? Yes. The club has ample salary-cap space, the 11th overall pick in the draft and veteran coaches who seem to know what they are doing. But Super Bowl contenders? I don't see it. At least not next year. -- Jeff Dickerson

Miami Dolphins: I thought the Dolphins were closer than this at the beginning of last season. But they had one of their most disappointing and underachieving seasons in recent memory by finishing 6-10. A rookie coach in Adam Gase means Miami will be a rebuilding team in transition in 2016. A .500 finish isn't a bad goal for Gase's first year. The Dolphins were 1-5 against the division last season and need to improve there, first and foremost, before even thinking about making a Super Bowl run. -- James Walker

Philadelphia Eagles: A team can't be too close to winning a Super Bowl if it just fired its head coach, but the Eagles aren't completely out of the running. Chip Kelly's team was 10-6 each of the past two seasons before things went south in 2015. Doug Pederson has something from which to work, and his choice of Jim Schwartz to restore the Eagles' defense should shorten the rebuilding process. Still, the Eagles have a long way to go. -- Phil Sheridan

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have the quarterback in place to lead them to the big game in Philip Rivers, but they have a lot of work to do in building around him. San Diego must revamp its offensive line, bring in a couple of playmakers on offense and add more beef up front to an improving, young defense. If all goes well, the Chargers could be right back in postseason contention. -- Eric D. Williams

3: Talent, depth needed

Houston Texans: They have pieces in place on defense, but offensively the Texans have some work to do. How quickly they'll be able to do that work is debatable. They need to solve their quarterback problem and figure out how to replace running back Arian Foster on a permanent basis. -- Tania Ganguli

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars have won just 12 games the past three seasons, and they have a lot of work to do on defense. However, they appear to have found their franchise quarterback in Blake Bortles and that's the No. 1 criteria for reaching a Super Bowl. Plus, they've got playmakers on offense in pass-catchers Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas. Until the Jaguars make strides on defense, however, they won't be a playoff team. -- Mike DiRocco

Los Angeles Rams: The Rams haven't even been to the playoffs since 2004 or had a winning record since 2003. The number would be higher if it were for "playoff contender," but this is for the Super Bowl. There are some good pieces in place for the future but this team also has major questions to answer this offseason on the free-agent front. Until the Rams have an offense that can be at least middle of the road and/or a coach who proves capable of doing better than seven wins with this team, the Super Bowl looks to be a long way off. -- Nick Wagoner

New York Giants: Same as their current number of consecutive losing seasons. The Giants' roster is a complete mess and needs major improvement this offseason to even think about being an NFC East contender. As for the Super Bowl? Well, for years we've said you couldn't count out the Giants because you knew they had the quarterback and the coach who could deliver a title if given a good enough supporting cast. A couple of weeks back, though, they got rid of the coach, and the new coach has never done this job before. There's reason to think a good offseason could make the Giants better than the 6-10 they've been the past two years, but they're a long, long way from being a championship contender again. -- Dan Graziano

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners are in full rebuilding mode now with Chip Kelly hired to not only fix the offense, which was 31st in the league while scoring the fewest points in the NFL, but the culture too. The roster has a few bright spots, but depth is a big issue. And the roster, as is, does not fit Kelly's quick-tempo philosophy. Sure, Kelly took the Eagles from 4-12 to 10-6 and a division crown his first year in Philly, but that roster was ready-made. Same as the 2011 Niners with then-rookie coach Jim Harbaugh. This does not feel close. Not in January, anyway. -- Paul Gutierrez

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs appear to have found the most important piece in quarterback Jameis Winston, who was just the third rookie QB to surpass 4,000 yards passing. There are playmakers on offense in wide receiver Mike Evans and running back Doug Martin (if he returns), but the Bucs have to fix defensive issues on third down (30th in 2015) and in points allowed (26th) before they can make a serious run at the playoffs. Playing in the same division as Carolina doesn't help either. -- Mike DiRocco

2: Big rebuilding job ahead

Tennessee Titans: It's not a 1 only because the Titans got quarterback Marcus Mariota in the 2015 draft. Tennessee is the worst team in the NFL over the past two seasons, as far as can be from the title game. New general manager Jon Robinson is charged with rebuilding a terrible roster. -- Paul Kuharsky

1: Nowhere close

Cleveland Browns: No long-term solution at quarterback, another new coach, seven seasons of at least 11 losses in the past eight and one playoff game (one!) since 1999. The Browns arrow isn't close to pointing up, not even in a league where one-season turnarounds are possible. -- Pat McManamon