Everyone has an opinion, and we do too. So, here's a look at the teams we think are the best in the NFL before the season kicks off.
1/ San Francisco - Yes, it's a cliche' to pick the team that looked to be the best the year before, but the 49ers have had two straight strong years - and with different quarterbacks - meaning that in this day and age of the 'elite' quarterback, the 49ers system is doing the talking. Young talent still abounds and the defense should be a juggernaut.
2/ Seattle - This is a little more iffy. The Seahawks could face a sophomore slump with Russell Wilson, but they have a huge home field advantage and showed they could compete on the road in the playoffs. Their schedule won't be as easy and it's hard to be #2 when #1 is in your own division, because, even if you are second best, you likely will face three in a row on the road in the playoffs.
3/ Green Bay - As long as you have Aaron Rodgers, you have a chance. This team, similar to the Saints, needs some improved defense.
4/ Houston - This is and should be the favorite in the AFC. Most of their injured players are back. They have a tough defense and a solid offense with some big time players.
5/ Denver - I'm not as sold as many, but the Broncos do play in a weak division in a weak conference. Although, that may not prepare you well for the rigors of the playoffs. Also, Peyton Manning has to slow down sometime, right? Just not this year, since he's my fantasy quarterback.
6/ Baltimore - Count me as a Flacco believer. I'm certainly a believer in Ray Rice. The D may not be as nasty, but it should still be good enough. Plus, the team is now battle-tested.
7/ Atlanta - I'm also not a believer here. This team either will make another stride forward or it will take three steps back. This team seems to have it all. On offense, Ryan can hand it off to Steven Jackson or toss it to Roddy White or Julio Jones.
8/ Saints - Yeah, I feel like a homer even picking them here. You'll know within two weeks, perhaps one, how much better they will be run under Sean Payton. Can he recapture the magic? Or did they lose it forever. I figure the Saints have at least one more really good Super Bowl run in the Brees era, but, outside of Brees, Graham and Colston - someone, either a receiver, running back or defensive player needs to make a big statement. One of my favorite old sportscasters used to talk about 'difference makers.' The Saints need more of them. Perhaps they've found some in the offseason.
9/ New England - It's a given they're going to win the AFC East and probably get a first round bye with a record that's pumped up in the weakish AFC, but Brady has lost most of his weapons. While that hasn't stopped him in the past, he is getting older. The dirtly little secret is that it's been a long, long time since the Pats have won a Super Bowl.
10/ NY Giants - This could have been any of a number of teams (Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Tampa, Arizona, Washington, Minnesota) but I just think the Jekyll and Hyde Giants come out for their odd run at the playoffs and beyond.