No more days of saying "man I wish football season was here!" For those who follow the pigskin 24/7/365, they know that training camp is really the beginning of the season. As I do each year at this time, I’ll name who I think are the top 10 ten teams in the league right now.
1. Seattle Seahawks – What is there not to like? How can one not place the defending champs atop of the top 10? Sure, the odds are stacked against them, but this team has a tenacious defense, a good offense and a home field advantage that can only be rivaled by the Superdome. Look for the 'Hawks to make another run at the title this season.
2. San Francisco 49ers – They have been to three straight NFC Title Games and a hair away from being in the last three Super Bowls. Can the 49ers remain a power in the most dangerous division in the league? Look out for those rising Rams and desert Cardinals.
3. Denver Broncos – Denver retooled their defense after an embarrassing loss to the Seahawks. I know that the game’s greatest player in QB Peyton Manning says that the word 'embarrassing' is an insult, but do you have a better word for that beat down the White Ponies endured last February? I’m afraid until Manning gets back to another Super Bowl and wins it, no one will believe he will!
4. New Orleans Saints – The Saints have inked their top WR/TE/Whatever the hell you want to call Jimmy Graham to a long-term deal. The defense is better, the offensive line looks set and Rob Ryan’s hair is still nasty to some and long and lustrous to others. Hey, if this team lands the top seed in the NFC, other conference teams need to cancel all plans, because the Who Dats will be back in the Super Bowl. And they will win it again!
5. Indianapolis Colts – This team looks locked and loaded. I know that the White Ponies and Pretty Pats are the favorites, but I think the Horseshoes can make it all the way. Indy will be a legit contender for a long time. Or at least as they have a little Andrew Luck on their side!
6. New England Patriots – When are the Pats going to fall off? Not until the model and the hood leave Clam Chowder Land. Is there anyone in the AFC East that can threaten the Pats this season? Possibly? Maybe? Doubtful.
7. Green Bay Packers – The Pack looks like a team that is a step ahead of the rest of the NFC North. QB Aaron Rodgers is as good as it gets, and the Packers have a solid run game now. Can Green Bay get better on D and hold off their rival Monsters of the Midway this season?
8. Baltimore Ravens – Last season was the first time in six years that Coach John Harbaugh did not make the playoffs as a head coach of the Ravens. It won’t happen again. The Purple Birds are too talented on defense and they have a good QB in Joe Flacco.
9. Philadelphia Eagles – Can Coach Chip Kelly keep teams off balance on defense with his up-tempo style offense in the City of Brotherly Love? In a terrible NFC East, the Eagles look like the best of the bunch, though that ain’t saying much!
10. Chicago Bears – The Bears have added Jared Allen on defense, and the Chi-Town offense has the best WR tandem in the league in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Is Jay Cutler a Super Bowl QB? If he wants to shed all the negative talk about him, then he needs to take his team to the land of February football!
Just outside the top 10:
Arizona Cardinals – The Cards won 10 games last season and did not make it to the playoffs - if there is a team that can knock out either Seattle or San Fran in the stout NFC West, I think it’s Arizona.
Atlanta Falcons – They were garbage last season, but Atlanta is too good at the QB position to be that bad again. Atlanta did not win the close games last season, but I think it will once again be the Diry Birds and Saints in a heated battle for the NFC South crown.
NY Jets – With arguably the best defensive front, an improved running game with Chris Johnson, and a veteran presence at QB in Mike Vick, the NY Planes could be a 10 win team this season.