The best team in the league last year … except for the last quarter of the Super Bowl. The explosive offense is back. And the defense is young, talented and presumably angry about how last year ended.
The Dallas offensive line is powerful enough to weather the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. But can Dak Prescott handle the pressure of having greatness expected of him? And is the defense really better?
With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers always will linger near the top of this list. GM Ted Thompson spent his top four draft picks on a leaky defense, but two are injured and only one might help this year.
Somehow, Russell Wilson makes up for a questionable offensive line. The defense remains elite, but it is aging and more susceptible to injuries. With the window closing, another division title isn’t enough.
Can they go from winners (9-7) to playoff participant? Yes. They look sturdy on both sides of the ball. And QB Jameis Winston has what it takes to lead a playoff qualifier.
One of the best moves of the offseason was the Giants adding WR Brandon Marshall. Eli Manning will keep him in check. Defensively, they appear to have what it takes to make a Super Bowl run.
The Vikings will return to the playoffs if their O-line improves significantly. But if the offense carries its load, a fresher Vikings defense can dominate at all three levels.
With a healthy Matthew Stafford, the Lions are capable of winning a playoff game for the first time since the ’91 season. LT Taylor Decker is sidelined and the pass defense is suspect.
The offense is older, but still capable of big things with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald Jr. healthy. The defense is a question mark with five starters departing.
This could be a significantly low ranking for a Carolina team that fell to 6-10 after winning the NFC the year before. Offensively, weapons were added. Defensively, can Luke Kuechly stay healthy?
The offense is often impressive, but can Washington bank on always having to win a shootout? There could be seven new defensive starters, which could be bad for a unit that ranked 28th last year.
Unfortunately for Drew Brees, he plays in a division that has three other standout quarterbacks with potent offenses. And the New Orleans defense is the worst of all the teams in the NFC South.
Philadelphia could surprise, especially if Carson Wentz continues to develop as a QB. But this roster looks like one that’s only in the middle of a major rebuilding project.
New coach Sean McVay, 31, is a fiery, energetic young fella. But his team is a ways from being respectable after last year’s 4-12 finish. The goal in L.A. is to keep building around QB Jared Goff.
At this point, it’s hard to get on board with a QB blueprint that has Mike Glennon serving as the bridge to Mitchell Trubisky. More overall talent and depth is needed.
San Francisco was a draft-day “winner,” but new GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have a long way to go on the field with a franchise that has been completely lost since Jim Harbaugh left.