1. Green Bay Packers
Coming off a 15-1 campaign and losing in shocking fashion to eventual Super Bowl Champions NY Giants in the divisional round, expect a bounce back from Aaron Rodgers and company this season. Will it mean another Super Bowl title remains the question.2.
2. New England Patriots
The defending AFC champions got a whole lot better on the offensive side of the ball (as if they needed to) by adding Brandon Lloyd and bringing back familiar faces Jabar Gaffney and Donte’ Stallworth. Plus the Pats still Thomas Bradyand when he is in tow there are always a favorite in the conference.
3. Houston Texans
This could be the year. Even with losing Mario Williams to Buffalo and Demeco Ryans to Philly, this team made it to the AFC Divisional Round with 3rd string QB TJ Yates and were a sniff from the AFC Championship beth. Only concern going forward is whether coach Gary Kubiak actually overcoaches this squad. Otherwise with a weaker AFC this season, Houston will be there near the end.
4. San Francisco 49ers
With the addition of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs, expect Jim Harbaugh to loosen the leash on Alex Smith who redefined the term “game manager” last season. While I don’t see the 13-3 Niners going forward, the NFC West is still terrible and therefore San Fran shouldn’t have a problem winning the West.
5. New York Giants
The champs are under the radar and that’s where they would prefer to be especially in an unpredictable division like the NFC East.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Another year older especially on defense and more questions regarding Joe Flacco. Can he cash in on his otherwise amazing performance in the AFC title game last season?
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Allegedly reverting back to the smash mouth style of old and a significantly older team this year, Pittsburgh will definitely hang around and most likely at worse win a wild card spot like last season.
8. Atlanta Falcons
With the Saints in disarray after an offseason filled with bounty-gate and both the Panthers and Buccaneers trying to figure themselves out, Atlanta has a golden opportunity to take a strangle hold on the NFC South.
9. Chicago Bears
Biggest dark horse not just in the NFC but in the NFL. Let’s not forget this Bears team was 7-3 before Jay Cutler was lost for the season and now with an added All Pro receiver in Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte contract situation taken care of, Chicago might be one of the very few teams who can challenge Green Bay.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
While collectively ’11 was a season of disapointment considering the expectations going into it, let’s not forget that they did end the season winning their last 4 games and still have their core talent that has continued to make them a good to elite team in the league. But this could be their last year to cash in on Super Bowl promises or else big changes will be made next season and most notably Andy Reid.