I believe the main contenders for the Super Bowl at this point are GB and BAL. OK, mostly everyone will agree w/GB, but BAL?
Let's focus on the AFC, current playoff contenders are -
East - NYJ, NE, BUF
North - BAL, PIT
South - HOU
West - OAK
In the West I don't include DEN as I think in 3-4 weeks D's will pick up on DEN run option O and squelch it. SD is clearly on the downhill, especially w/personnel, this past Thursday night was just a continuation of OAK dominance from last year when they were swept by the raiders. KC is about to step into it's 2nd half of season which includes a stretch of NE, PIT, CHI, NYJ, GB which are sandwiched by division games of DEN/sandwich/OAK, DEN - tell be very lucky to end up 8-8 at best, so playoffs not likely this year.
Of the remaining teams, NE & PIT are on the downhill slope, stopping every now and then w/wins that you expects and losses, that have the questions rolling that large snowball even faster downhill.
BUF, HOU, & NYJ are climbing and need to continue to climb, w/HOU farther up the hill and NYJ farther ahead w/D and farther behind w/O
That leaves BAL and with their division sweep this year of PIT, they appear to have gotten 'over the hump'.
All teams have a rival that is better than they are and until they beat them, they will continue to be the lesser of the rivals. Why not NYJ? they've proven they can beat NE. This is true, but they aren't as complete a team as BAL and this can be seen w/special teams and w/the lack of 'explosive downfield plays'.
In the NFC, after GB the contenders are...
East - NYG, DAL
North - DET, CHI
South - NO, ATL
West - SF
NYG needs their DL/LB to stay healthy or they'll give up too many points even for a Manning to overcome
DAL is perhaps the most inconsistent and playing to the level of competition
DET/CHI give GB the rivalry it needs to stay ahead of the game, but this also exposes DET/CHI weakness' in the game this weekend CHI needs the win to gain the split for the series or else DET will have garnered the sweep and braggin' rights, but GB is the king of the hill and they must be knocked off before DET/CHI can even think of being SuperBowl bound
NO though great at home, have a tuff time on the road with teams that have a winning record
ATL appears to be a notch below NO and until they sweep NO will always be considered so.
SF is on the uphill and there are more hills to climb