On Monday, we pounded 16 shots of Kool-Aid and knocked out an AFC preview that outlined best- and worst-case scenarios for each club, along with our best guess at each division's order of finish.
Today, we're tackling the old guard. Once again, we'll give each team two outlooks: one informed by the big "O" (optimism, of course) and one informed by a skeptical dose of "no way."
1. New York
The "O": The league's best O-line/D-line tandem storms its way to the conference title that seemed like a gimme for most of last year.
The "No": The least productive receiving corps of any contender (this year's top four wideouts caught a total of five touchdowns last season) keep the G-Men stuck in one-trick pony status.
The "O": Donovan McNabb and company pick up where they left off last January and party like it's 2004.
The "No": Even if Michael Vick toes the line and does everything the Iggles ask of him—and at this point, there's no reason to think he won't—this town might not be big enough for two star quarterbacks.
The "O": Addition by subtraction, right? With no T.O., the 'Boys are one, big, happy, winning family.
The "No": Anybody else feel like this window closed last December?
The "O": Last year's defense was No. 4 in yards and No. 6 in points...and just wait 'til they get their Haynes on you.
The "No": One head coach, one quarterback, zero job security—doesn't quite sound like a winning formula.
The "O": Brett Favre, meet Bernard Berrian.
The "No": Brett Favre, meet Nick Collins.
2. Green Bay
The "O": 3-4 magician Dom Capers makes last year's defensive woes disappear.
The "No": Scrawny-to-brawny wonder Clay Matthews gets overzealous, putting on another 81 pounds over the next six years.
The "O": Jay Cutler fires a rocket downfield...
The "No": ...and breaks Devin Hester's fingers.
The "O": Short of burning down Ford Field, there ain't much left over from last year's mess.
The "No": At some point, the excitement over winning four games is going to become outright depressing.
The "O": There are maybe 10 stud quarterbacks in the NFL, and the Falcons have one of them.
The "No": Last year, this defense finished No. 11 in points allowed and No. 24 in yardage. Something's gotta give.
2. New Orleans
The "O": Injuries to Marques Colston (six starts in '08), Reggie Bush (nine starts), and Jeremy Shockey (11 starts) didn't slow down an offense that scored 465 points.
The "No": If Dom Capers is a wizard in Green Bay, new DC Gregg Williams need to be a miracle worker in the Big Easy.
The "O": After carrying the rock a relatively moderate 273 times last year, DeAngelo Williams has room to pick up the slack for the injured Jonathan Stewart.
The "No": John Fox's Panthers have won 11 or more games three times, including last year. They've yet to follow up one of those efforts with a winning season.
4. Tampa Bay
The "O": Dating back to 1997, the Bucs have failed to post a top-10 finish in both scoring defense and yards allowed just once—and it didn't happen last year.
The "No": No Monte Kiffin, no Jeff Jagodzinski, no Derrick Brooks...it's getting awfully lonely down there for Raheem Morris.
The "O": Ken Whisenhunt remembers that his team went 9-7 and was labeled the worst squad ever to make the playoffs. That's a good thing.
The "No": The hangover is real, and, just like a grizzled Zach Galifianakis, it can be ugly.
The "O": They can't be as injured as last year. They just can't.
The "No": This team is one 33-year-old with an iffy back away from a whole lot of Seneca Wallace.
3. San Francisco
The "O": Mediocre teams with talent at skill positions tend to be breakout candidates...why not the Niners?
The "No": Missing on a first-round receiver is never a good omen, and (through no fault of the team's) Michael Crabtree is shaping up to be a heck of miss.
4. St. Louis
The "O": Donnie Avery's miracle foot might make this offense watchable.
The "No": After five years, five different head coaches, and an average of 5.4 wins, this is more of an intervention than a rebuilding project.
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