Here is how we see the NFL to start the 2012 season…
1. Green Bay Packers: The Packers invested in young defensive talent via the draft, but we still see them as the No. 1 because of Rodgers and the multiple weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
2. New England Patriots: We are curious to find out how the Pats will game plan with WR Brandon Lloyd on the field, but it still comes back to Brady and his ability to target Gronkowski and Hernandez.
3. New York Giants: The defending champs have the best defensive front four in football—and that makes them the team to beat in the East.
4. Baltimore Ravens: If the Ravens want to challenge for a Super Bowl championship, it falls on the shoulders of QB Joe Flacco.
5. Houston Texans: Do the Texans have the best defense in football? We think so.
6. San Francisco 49ers: The Niners return their entire starting defense and added new talent at the WR position, but can QB Alex Smith win a title?
7. Atlanta Falcons: Does Matt Ryan take a step forward and enter the discussion as one of the top QBs in the NFL?
8. New Orleans Saints: Should we have Brees and the Saints ranked higher? Probably, but we want to see them play without Sean Payton first.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers: The defense is older and Todd Haley is calling the plays for Ben Roethlisberger and the offense, but we still see the Steelers as one of the AFC favorites.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: We want to buy the Eagles, but can Michael Vick stay healthy for a playoff run?
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Second year for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Look for big numbers.
12: Chicago Bears: The Bears now have the ability to throw the ball down the field with Brandon Marshall, but they need a healthy Brian Urlacher to compete with Green Bay.
13. Detroit Lions: The Lions will score points. We know that. However, do they have enough talent in the secondary?
14. Denver Broncos: Are the Broncos the AFC West favorite? If Manning stays on the field it is hard to count them out.
15. Kansas City Chiefs: Multiple playmakers back from injury and a defense that could be one of the AFC’s best.
16. Buffalo Bills: The Bills loaded up on talent along the D-Line for one reason: to get pressure on Tom Brady and the Pats.
17. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys addressed the secondary this offseason, but if they want to make a run at the playoffs QB Tony Romo has to play at a high level.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Alright Russell Wilson, show us what you got.
19. San Diego Chargers: No Vincent Jackson? The Chargers and Philip Rivers will still throw the ball all over the field.
20. Carolina Panthers: Can Steve Smith have another Pro Bowl season with Cam Newton at QB?
21. New York Jets: We know Tebow will be on the field running “gadget plays,” but this is still Mark Sanchez’s offense—for now.
22. Oakland Raiders: With a full offseason of work, Carson Palmer should play like a proven veteran at the QB position.
23. Tennessee Titans: We like the Titans’ offense with Jake Locker at QB because of his ability to throw the vertical game and make plays outside of the pocket.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Schiano coached this team hard in camp—and they needed it after packing it in to end the 2011 season.
25. Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan has a true playmaker at QB, but he has to open up the offense this year.
26. Indianapolis Colts: The transition to a 3-4 scheme could lead to some early struggles on defense, but Andrew Luck looks like the real deal.
27. Arizona Cardinals: The Cards have a Top 5 talent in Larry Fitzgerald and drafted Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, but the QB position is shaky at best.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars: MJD is back, but we are looking at QB Blaine Gabbert’s development is his second season.
29. St. Louis Rams: Can Fisher turn the Rams around in his first season? He needs help from Sam Bradford to get it done.
30. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have holes at the WR position and we don’t know when Adrian Peterson will be back at full strength.
31. Miami Dolphins: Starting rookie Ryan Tannehill is the right call, but don’t expect immediate results in Miami.
32. Cleveland Browns: The Browns are young and inexperienced at key positions. Not good when you play in the loaded AFC North.
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