Brady2 1. New England Patriots

Yes, I know the Pittsburgh Steelers are the defending Super Bowl champions. No, I don’t care. With Tom Brady back, the Patriots are the NFL’s unofficial team to beat. The only concern if you’re a Patriot supporter: a lot of vets are gone from the defence (Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour). But Bill Belichick has jumped much larger hurdles in the past.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Obviously scary, and obviously not about to take even a baby step backward. They really haven’t lost anyone of significance and will likely improve the running game with a healthy Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall. The AFC North is still theirs.

3. New York Giants

Injuries have been somewhat of a concern throughout the preseason, and the receiving corps isn’t exactly putting fear into opponents, but if the Giants have anything, it’s depth. The defensive front seven has more than enough options to compensate for bumps and bruises. Even the receiving corps, which has no established go-to guy, has a lot of potential. They’re still the class of the NFC.

4. Tennessee Titans

I don’t think the loss of Albert Haynesworth will be as hurtful as most are assuming, and the Titans have improved last year’s weak spot, the receiving corps, with the addition of Nate Washington and rookies Kenny Britt and Jared Cook. Remember, this was the NFL’s best team during the 2008 regular season.

5. Indianapolis Colts

The Titans-Colts rivalry could take a monster step forward this year, because both teams look primed to be powerhouses. The only thing I’m worried about in Indy is the offensive line, which is in somewhat of a state of flux.

6. San Diego Chargers

They were snakebitten last year by that botched call in Week 1 against Denver and were never able to fully recover. With Shawne Merriman-Tequila back from injury, and with little competition within the AFC West, the Bolts could win 13 or more games.

7. Baltimore Ravens

One more year of experience can only help young quarterback Joe Flacco and second-year head coach John Harbaugh, right? The loss of Bart Scott and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is mildly hurtful, but the Ravens should still be a 10-win team, at the very worst.

8. Philadelphia Eagles

A highly-anticipated training camp took a bad turn early when middle linebacker Stewart Bradley went down for the count, and things have been weird in Philly ever since. Will Michael Vick help or just disrupt the offensive flow? Will an offensive line that still hasn’t played together need time to jell? There are a lot of questions, but the ceiling is also very, very high.

9. Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler changes everything in Chicago. The opportunities he’ll open up for Matt Forte are endless, and Greg Olsen should become a Pro Bowler with such weapons surrounding him. The aging defence is a bit of a concern, but there’s still a hell of a lot of talent mixed in there, too.

10. Minnesota Vikings

This has nothing to do with Brett Favre, who I feel brings Minnesota an extra win, if that. This is because the defence is stacked, the running game is sick and I think they’re about to bring it all together in the Twin Cities.

The rest…

11. Green Bay Packers
12. Dallas Cowboys
13. New Orleans Saints
14. Arizona Cardinals
15. Atlanta Falcons
16. Carolina Panthers
17. Seattle Seahawks
18. Houston Texans
19. Miami Dolphins
20. Cincinnati Bengals
21. New York Jets
22. Buffalo Bills
23. Washington Redskins
24. San Francisco 49ers
25. Denver Broncos
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
27. Kansas City Chiefs
28. St. Louis Rams
29. Cleveland Browns
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
31. Detroit Lions
32. Oakland Raiders

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