Obviously, for starters, having Peyton Manning is a VERY good thing. Joseph Addai should have a terrific year and their young receivers got better as last season progressed. All-Pro safety Bob Sanders is injured indefinitely after a Week 1 injury, but the rest of their defense is much healthier than last year. This team should do better than last year, which is saying a lot considering the Colts started 14-0 and went to the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers 4.5-1
The Packers have the look of a Super bowl team. They have a Super Nowl quarterback and the best receiving weapons in the NFL. They have a top five defense and are very well coached. Their offense should be almost unstoppable. Their defense cannot afford to play like they did against Arizona last year in the playoffs.
Their offense led by Drew Brees is a juggernaut. There is not much of a dropoff between this team and last year's championship team. Reggie Bush should make a bigger contribution this year, and Jeremy Shockey is the healthiest he has been in years. The key is whether or not their defense can force the volume of turnovers that they did last year.
The last couple of years San Diego has had as much talent as anyone, but have disappointed. Antonio Cromartie is lost from a secondary that played very well last year. Philip Rivers is great and Malcom Floyd should emerge as a very good No. 1 with Vincent Jackson missing at least the first six games. They need to fix their red zone offensive problems but they should make a deep run.
Dallas Cowboys 6.5-1
Arguably the most talented team on paper, the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of receiving weapons for Tony Romo and are very good and deep at running back. They have a lot of speed and talent on Defense but, the biggest question marks are their team chemistry and an aging offensive line.
New England Patriots 7.5-1
With Wes Welker expected to make a full recovery from surgery, a healthy Tom Brady, Randy Moss (if he quits crying), Belichick, and a solid D, you just can’t count out the Pats. Old man Fred Taylor looked surprisingly fast in the preseason and rookie tight end Ron Gronkowski should be a stud.
New York Jets 11-1
Darrelle Revis is back and their defense should once again be terrific. Head coach Rex Ryan is an absolute master motivator (in case you haven’t watched Hard Knocks yet). They have done a lot to upgrade their receiving corps, but Mark Sanchez and the rest of the offense has had a rough preseason. This should stop them from winning it all.
Baltimore Ravens 13-1
The Ravens could be a Super Bowl sleeper team. Newly acquired Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are major upgrades at receiver and should help out Joe Flacco exponentially. Their defense is not as dominant as in years past, but they can create turnovers and score defensive touchdowns. Also, their running attack is as good as anybody’s with Ray Rice taking the rock.
Minnesota Vikings 15-1
The loss of Sidney Rice for at least the first eight weeks of the season, along with Brett Favre’s creaky ankle, are causes for concern in Minnesota. They still have Adrian Peterson and a good defense of course, so if Favre can stay healthy, they should be able to make a big push once Rice comes back.
Atlanta Falcons 20-1
Matt Ryan should have a big year with help from fantasy football star Roddy White. They don’t really have any glaring weaknesses in any facet of the game. If their offensive line can stay healthy and Turner can return to his 2008 form, this team will be tough to beat.
Tennessee Titans 22.5-1
Tennessee played outstanding down the stretch last year and Chris Johnson should have another dynamite year while Vince Young continues to get better. They have a young, physical, aggressive defense and Jeff Fisher is among the best in the game. Their tough division might be their downfall.
Houston Texans 25-1
The Texans should again have a high powered offense, but there are questions of whether or not Matt Schaub can stay healthy, even though Andre Johnson would have a good year if Bugs Bunny was back at QB. Their defense was solid, but inconsistent last year and must get better. Will they finally get over the hump this year? If they do, they must find a way to beat the Colts.
Cincinnati Bengals 25-1
This could be the most talented team that the Bengals have had in years. They are stacked at running back and at receiver and their defense is vastly underrated and very good. Carson Palmer has the tough task of leading this offense and trying to distribute the ball evenly to keep everyone happy. Their schedule is brutal.
New York Giants 25-1
Their atrocious defense from last year is improved, but they must stay healthy. Eli Manning had a good year last season and their passing attack should be very good as their young receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks started to break out last year. Brandon Jacobs doesn’t seem to have anything left and Ahmad Bradshaw had a bad leg last year and is coming off double ankle surgeries. Their injury-plagued offensive line is a major issue. Justin Tuck is at the top when it comes to defensive players.
San Francisco 49ers 25-1
The 49ers are the team to beat in the NFC West. Mike Singletary’s team continues to improve and Patrick Willis leads a very good defense. They have some good offensive weapons with Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree. While Alex Smith showed improvement last year and they are going to have to live and die with him. I’m guessing they will eventually die.
Philadelphia Eagles 27.5-1
Kevin Kolb should make a smooth transition to a full time starter as we witnessed some of his skills last year. Andy Reid has enough weapons on offense to put up a ton of points and the defense has playmakers and is aggressive, but their secondary is extremely suspect. As we all know though, there are NO easy games in the NFC East.
Miami Dolphins 30-1
Miami is a well coached and very disciplined team with Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano leading the way. Chad Henne has turned into a serviceable quarterback and their offensive line is good. Their running game will again flourish as the Wildcat continues to puzzle defenses. They are pretty much solid everywhere, except at receiver but the addition of fantasy football superstar Brandon Marshall makes them legit. They need to start winning close games, especially in their division.
Pittsburgh Steelers 30-1
It will be tough playing the first four games with Dennis Dixon as the starting quarterback, as he is not a recommended fantasy football play. Pittsburgh will have to rely on Rashard Mendenhall quite a bit for the first quarter of the season given the circumstances. Troy Polamalu will be back and their defense should be dominant once again. They have the best linebacker corps in the league and if they can weather the early storm, they can become a late season contender.
Carolina Panthers 40-1
Matt Moore played well down the stretch last year and they have extremely good lines on both sides of the ball. Their secondary is very physical and John Fox is a great coach, despite being on the hot seat. They have an explosive running game and if Moore has a good year, this could be a sleeper team.
Chicago Bears 45-1
It’s tough to see this team coming out of the NFC North with the likes of the Packers and Vikings in the Bears' way. Only four players were targeted more than Devin Aromashodu during the last four weeks of the season and Cutler has gelled well with Greg Olsen, especially in the red zone. Their defense should be a lot healthier and improved with the addition of Julius Peppers.
Denver Broncos 50-1
Kyle Orton has showed that he has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. However, their offensive line is going to have to control games in order to get some wins. Their defense is undersized but very tough and gritty, but the loss of Elvis Dumervil could be too much to overcome.
Kansas City Chiefs 50-1
Kansas City’s offense should get a boost with Charlie Weis calling the plays this year while his old buddy Romeo Crennel has also been added to the staff. Matt Cassel has ability and he has some weapons on offense, which includes Jamaal Charles, who should have a monster year. Their defense played very well at times last year but must get a lot better.
Oakland Raiders 50-1
The Raiders are a tough team that takes on the personality of their head coach, Tom Cable. Jason Campbell is a big improvement from JaMarcus Russel (who wouldn’t be?). Oakland has a hard-nosed D and a good secondary. They must get better production out of their skill positions and their running game needs to be more consistent as this will be their key to being successful.
Cleveland Browns 60-1
Cleveland played well down the stretch last year and added Jake Delhomme in the offseason. He should help the passing game, even though they don’t have many weapons at receiver. They have a good, physical defense and should play a lot of low scoring games. Jerome Harrison needs to put this team on his back and play like the fantasy football star people are counting on.
Washington Redskins 60-1
If McNabb’s ankle can hold up and Albert Haynesworth can play up to his ability, this team can be good. Their D played well last year and should keep them in a lot of games. They are behind the rest of the NFC East at the skill positions, but Mike Shanahan is an offensive genius so this could get interesting.
Arizona Cardinals 80-1
No more fantasy football star Kurt Warner as Derek Anderson will step into a new system and take the controls. Despite Boldin being gone, they still have a talented receiving corps, but all the losses on defense will be too much to overcome.
Jacksonville Jaguars 100-1
The Jags are a tough team to figure out. Head man Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat and will be desperate. Jacksonville is holding their breath in hopes that Maurice Jones-Drew will stay healthy. David Garrard is serviceable but, if he goes down, they are in some serious trouble. Their defense last year was schizophrenic and not very good.
Detroit Lions 150-1
Detroit should be better than last year and they have some good young talent on both sides of the ball. The Lions should be able to put up some points but they have too many holes.
Seattle Seahawks 200-1
Who knows what is going on in Seattle. They have a new sheriff in town and are shaking things up. Their veteran offensive line coach just quit, TJ was ushered out, and who knows how Hasselbeck will perform. Their defense has ability, but it doesn’t look good for the birds.
St. Louis Rams 250-1
The Sam Bradford era begins in St. Louie. Unfortunately, they don’t have much outside of Steven Jackson.
Buffalo Bills 250-1
A bad offense, bad defense, bad special teams, and an inexperienced coach is not a good recipe for success.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 250-1
Not much talent here as the Bucs are arguably the worst team in the NFL. Tampa Bay will not even have a real home field advantage because they haven’t sold out most of their games. It is going to be a very, very rough year.