1. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)– Dallas has been viewed as a Super Bowl contender the past few years, but this is the first year they are a legitimate one. They have one of the most complete teams in football with a defense loaded in the front-7, and an offense that is the best collection of weapons Tony Romo has ever played with.
This is a make or break season for Wade Phillips. If they have another early playoff exit, it will be the end of his tenure as Dallas’s Head Coach.
2. Washington Redskins (9-7)– Other than having a great coach and a great quarterback, I’m not sold on this team to do any damage this season. Even though they addressed the issue they have at the offensive-line with the selection of Trent Williams to play left tackle, it still remains a weakness at this point. Also their $100 million D-lineman, Albert Haynesworth is being a complete pussy.
3. New York Giants (8-8)– This seems to be a team fizzling out of contention every year since their 12-4 season they had after they won the Super Bowl. And it is mainly due to the fact that Eli Manning has not made any improvements since that time, and the pass rush has not been as dominant as they were in the past.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)– You never know how good something is until it is gone. And that’s what the unappreciative Philly fans will realize in the first season without McNabb. Kevin Kolb showed a bit of promise with two 300+ yard passing games in the ones he replaced an injured McNabb last season. But the learning curve will be a lot more steep for a guy playing in his first full season at the toughest position in football.
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – If Aaron Rodgers doesn’t hold on to the ball for an eternity in the pocket this season, then the Packers will be a force. The offensive-line unfairly got the brunt of the blame, even though Rodgers struggles, like I mentioned before holding on to the ball too long, and also does not read blitzes well. These are the only two things that are keeping Rodgers from joining that tier of elite quarterbacks.
The offense is already explosive enough, even though they allow as many sacks as they do. Plus the defense, with Al Harris healthy, probably has the best secondary in football, and also has a collection of studs at linebacker. This might be the best overall team in football.
2. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)-Brett Favre is playing this season even though he hasn’t announced it yet, but he eventually will. The Vikings are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. What may have appeared to be a strength having Brett Favre, in my mind is a weakness in the long run. At his age, it’s not realistic for him to sustain a season of excellence deep into the playoffs. And for a quarterback who is already prone to make big mistakes, him being 40 keeps him from being physically capable when it matters most as the wear and tear of a full season takes its toll. He has already shown he is mentally incapable with blatantly bad throws in the most meaningful moments of a game.
3. Chicago Bears (7-9)– I wouldn’t trust a guy like Jay Cutler hanging around my house, he’d probably throw all of my valuables away (the little valuables that I have).
4. Detroit Lions (6-10)– With Matthew Stafford, and Calvin Johnson on offense, and now Ndamokung Suh on the defense, I see this franchise finally putting it together this season to be a fromidable NFL franchise with that foundation in place.
1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)– Last year was not a fluke by any means, and the fact is, the Saints passing game is near impossible to stop. As far as the defense duplicating last season by causing the amount of turnovers it did, will be very unlikely. Nonetheless it is a solid defense and a potent offense, and New Orleans will be a tough team to dethrone.
2. Atlanta Falcons (9-7)– Newly acquired Dunta Robinson should help their secondary, but not enough to keep it from being exploited when they face good passing teams. It is expected to see Matt Ryan progress. Most would say he took a step back last season, from his rookie year. But as opposing coaches gather a little more film, and Ryan who was a little banged up last year, it is only expected. This team just isn’t good enough right now to be a viable contender.
3. Carolina Panthers (7-9)– This team has a lot of talent, in a lot of places, but not enough complementary pieces to make it an overall good football team. Steve Smith is a great primary receiver, but his quarterback, and other receivers are not good enough to utilize his talent to its potential. Consequently the passing game does allow them to maximize the potential of having one of the best run games in the league and have an explosive offense. And even though they have great linebackers with Jon Beason, and Thomas Davis, the rest of the defense is mediocre.
4.Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)– This team has some promising components including quarterback Josh Freeman. Still though, he and along with other members of the team need time to develop, and mesh before they become competitive.
1. San Francisco 49ers (11-5)– If the rookie offensive lineman that the front office drafted pan out, then things will be very easy for Alex Smith. Michael Crabtree will breakthrough as an elite receiver, Frank Gore is great, and Vernon Davis is just a full fledged migraine for defenses.
I haven’t even mentioned Patrick Willis yet, the leader of this team. He is capable of anchoring a defense that allows 17 points per game by himself. If he gets the help around him, San Fran could hold teams to under 15 a game for the entire season.
2. Seattle Seahawks (6-10)– This team still has a lot of issues, and is in its rebuilding stages as they are invested in three promising players including, second-year linebacker Aaron Curry, and their two first-round picks Russell Okung, and Earl Thomas. We’ll see if Pete Carroll can provide a direction for his new team by building something that looks promising with the young core group of guys in his first year with Seattle.
3. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)– Kurt Warner meant so much to this team, the transition at quarterback is going to be a significant one that brings Arizona back to the cellar of the NFL. This year we will find out if Matt Leinart can be an NFL quarterback, or if he is just content with the pussy you get for saying he’s an NFL quarterback.
4. St. Louis Rams (2-14)– Yuck!