The former Super Bowl champs have some defensive deficiencies, but Aaron Rodgers will be tough to keep down.
Aaron Rodgers has a championship belt end zone celebration after touchdowns. He was the undisputed champ two years ago when the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers was named MVP of that game.
Last season, he was the league MVP with impressive numbers of 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The big prize slipped as the Packers lost their opening playoff game.
Now, Rodgers is the hungry champ looking to reclaim his top spot. Green Bay’s stellar 15-1 record last year proved its Super Bowl win wasn’t a fluke. The Packers’ playoff loss must have been a stumble.
What can Rodgers do to make sure the belt comes back to Green Bay? He will take care of the offense. Will the defense, which was last in the NFL in total defense, step up?
1.Green Bay Packers — Rodgers is the best player in the game now. If the Packers’ defense can make some plays, Rodgers can lead the team back to the Super Bowl.
2.Detroit Lions — Megatron (Calvin Johnson) is a hell of a matchup for any defender. He can keep them in any game, and sometimes, the threat of Megatron is just as potent as a big catch or block downfield.
3.Chicago Bears — The defense is there. It’s always there. But the offense is a major question mark. Brandon Marshall is a good receiver. Can quarterback Jay Cutler get him the ball though?
4.Minnesota Vikings — Without running back Adrian Peterson, this team has no chance. Even with Peterson, the Vikings aren’t very good.
1.Atlanta Falcons — With the Saints out of whack because of player, coach and managements suspensions, the Falcons should have more than enough talent to win this division outright. Matt Ryan to Roddy White is difficult to stop as is running back Michael Turner.
2.Carolina Panthers — Cam Newton isn’t an elite quarterback. He could be. And he’s only beginning his second season. Newton threw for more than 4,000 yards last season and had 35 total touchdowns (21 passing, 14 running).
3.New Orleans Saints — Drew Brees is an elite quarterback. The Saints ensured that Brees would remain with the team by giving him a five-year, $100 million contract ($60 million is guaranteed; this season, Brees will make an astounding $40 million). The team needs Brees because Coach Sean Payton is suspended the entire season as a result of the bounty scandal.
4.Tampa Bay Buccaneers — These guys took a huge nosedive in 2011 with a 4-12 record. They don’t have the talent to make the playoffs.
1.New York Giants — Coach Tom Coughlin has saved his job twice in recent years. The Giants won Super Bowls XLVI and XLII, robbing the New England Patriots of continuing their dynasty. Now, Eli Manning has joined his brother Peyton as one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.
2.Philadelphia Eagles — The Dream Team slept in last year. If Michael Vick stays healthy, this team has a shot. Coach Andy Reid has gone far with a lot less talent. It’s up to the players to make it happen.
3.Dallas Cowboys — Is this the year the Cowboys don’t underachieve? Tony Romo already has the reputation as being the quarterback who chokes. When it comes to America’s team, it’s almost impossible to know what to expect.
4.Washington Redskins — The addition of Robert Griffin III will make the Redskins more of a threat. Then again, these are still the same blundering Redskins. One big-name rookie quarterback won’t change the fortune of a fall-on-its-face franchise.
1.San Francisco 49ers — Jim Harbaugh worked a miracle in just his first year. The 49ers have some great players on defense and somehow, Harbaugh transformed Alex Smith into a competent quarterback. It also helps that the West is the weakest division in sports history.
2.Seattle Seahawks — Maybe the Seahawks can sneak into the playoffs if they catch some breaks. You never know if the 49ers suffer some injuries. Seattle isn’t great, but Coach Pete Carroll led them to the division title two years ago.
3.St. Louis Rams — Coach Jeff Fisher could have this team in contention soon. It’ll take time as the Rams have been pathetic in recent years. They have potential with Sam Bradford at quarterback. Another poor season will help their draft position. In a few years, Fisher could have them back to the top of the division.
4.Arizona Cardinals — They overpaid for quarterback Kevin Kolb. The guy never proved anything, yet he got a big contract. Former Fordham quarterback John Skelton is getting the nod to lead this bad team. Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the premier receivers in the league. His presence is a far cry from the Super Bowl team that had future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner throwing to Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.