Despite their Super Bowl loss, the Seahawks still have the most talented roster in the NFL. Plus, it appears QB Russell Wilson will play out the final year of his rookie contract. He wants to get paid in full, so expect a big year.
The Cowboys are here to stay, mainly due to their offensive line, which somehow got better with the addition of La’el Collins, and with coordinator Rod Marinelli running the defense. But the window is closing quickly with a 35-year-old QB Tony Romo.
3. Green Bay
As long as quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a pulse, the Packers will remain a Super Bowl contender. On defense, the secondary is a big question.
Coach Chip Kelly has been fascinating to watch. He revamped a team that went 10-6 last year, making trades and cutting veterans. Kelly is going to do things his way, for better or worse.
The Vikings put together a deep roster in Mike Zimmer’s second season. While there are questions on defense, the return of RB Adrian Peterson and the poise of QB Teddy Bridgewater should boost the team’s offense.
QB Cam Newton got paid, and it’s time for him to prove his worth. The Panthers are starting to invest in some weapons around Newton, and they’ll hope the offensive line will keep him upright this time.
7. New Orleans
The Saints have built a pretty impressive offensive line but at the cost of QB Drew Brees’ biggest target, TE Jimmy Graham, who was traded to Seattle. It’s a big year for the 36-year-old Brees.
It’ll be strange to see the Lions defense this year without DT Ndamukong Suh. His absence will impact the entire defense, which is coming off a strong season. QB Matthew Stafford has been too inconsistent.
9. St. Louis
The Rams are a quarterback away from becoming a playoff team. They acquired Nick Foles from the Eagles in the offseason. They’re still a quarterback away from becoming a playoff team.
The Cardinals appear to be a playoff team that will take a big step back. They lost a few key pieces on defense, including coordinator Todd Bowles, the new Jets coach.
This is the year the Redskins will find out if Robert Griffin III is their franchise QB. He has to stay healthy and show improvement or it’s time to move on.
12. N.Y. Giants
We wonder if we’ll see the good Eli Manning or the bad one. There’s been an APB out for the good Eli for a few years now. WR Odell Beckham Jr. could make him look a lot better.
The Falcons hired Dan Quinn as coach to work the same magic he did with the Seahawks defense over the past few years. It won’t happen overnight.
DE Jared Allen thought the Bears were close to a Super Bowl last year when he signed as a free agent. His head coach got fired, and the Bears traded WR Brandon Marshall. So much for that.
15. Tampa Bay
The Bucs have a franchise QB in Jameis Winston. He’ll go through growing pains, but the team appears to be on the track to relevancy. Coach Lovie Smith should see his defense improve as well.
16. San Francisco
The 49ers had the worst offseason imaginable with four notable players retiring. Head coach Jim Harbaugh ran off to Michigan and Jim Tomsula takes over. The Niners were in the Super Bowl just three seasons ago. Now they’re poised to be a bottom feeder in the NFC.