2010 NFL Cream Of The Crop: The Early Favorites For The NFC Crown

Old AccountSenior Writer IMay 21, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 31:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the NFC's Green Bay Packers signals a play during the 2010 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game at Sun Life Stadium on January 31, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The AFC defeated the NFC 41-34. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Up to this point, I have been shocked seeing so many early predictions for the 2010 season. With training camp and preseason not even under way (where injuries happen), I won't make my predictions until the summer.

However, that doesn't mean I don't have an idea of early contenders for each conference. Last week, I talked about the AFC and listed my early favorites.

Now, I present to you the teams to beat in the NFC this season.

New Orleans Saints

Until the champs are beat, the New Orleans Saints in my opinion are the team to beat in the whole league, especially the NFC. Virtually every key player has returned on both sides of the ball, including Darren Sharper.

The Saints were also smart by taking Patrick Robinson in the late first round to further the cornerback depth.

Green Bay Packers

I may take a hit for putting this team to high in some minds. However, I am on the Green Bay Packers' bandwagon. This team is ready to move on to the next level and take over the NFC North.

Aaron Rodgers, who will be in the running for MVP this season, gets another season under his belt. The offensive line also improved by getting a great value pick in Bryan Bulaga.

The biggest question may be the defense, but with Al Harris returning it will be a tough combination with him and Woodson. Right now, this is the biggest question mark for Green Bay.

Minnesota Vikings

Assuming Brett Favre returns, the Vikings will be a threat in the NFC. Favre will have a great supply of receivers, tight ends, and the best running back in the conference. The two biggest questions are the offensive line and the secondary.

The line showed some aging last season and will need to improve greatly if Brett lasts the whole year. I wasn't impressed much with the lack of improvement in the secondary, which most teams feasted on.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys' stock has risen over the past month. The acquisition of Dez Bryant does wonders for the offense, giving Tony Romo another target.

There are still a few questions I have about the Cowboys though. How will the secondary hold up? Outside of Malcolm Jenkins, there is a need of improvement there.

Also, the offensive line has been one of the best for a few years now, but will it begin to decline? The release of Flozell Adams may begin that stretch.

The NFC does not have as many early contenders, despite other teams that can make the playoffs:

San Francisco 49ers

For now, they are my early pick to win the NFC West. However, this is still a young team with a defense hitting its bumps in the road. Also, will Alex Smith have a breakout year where San Francisco become a virtual threat to the teams above? I don't think so.

Atlanta Falcons

A lot of people believe the Atlanta Falcons are Super Bowl contenders—not so fast. First, I want to see how Matt Ryan bounces back from his sophomore slump, especially with the weapons he has on offense.

The biggest weakness is the defense as a whole. Atlanta signed Dunta Robinson, which is a huge help, but will the pass rush step up despite adding youth?

Matt Miselis is an NFL Featured Columnist for BleacherReport.com.

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