- NO (12-4). NO had a down year last year, but finally, the organization went about trying to improve the defense. And, while the offense didn’t really need to improve much, it did. Robert Meacham has developed into a yet another legit WR threat, Jeremy Shockey is apparently a different person health-wise this year (though the loss of the 2nd TE Billy Miller does hurt), Pierre Thomas has very convincingly answered questions re whether he can be the featured back and Drew Brees is Drew Brees.
- Atl (10-6). I still like Atlanta. For a while this offseason, I was prepared to predict a 2nd year slump for Mike Smith, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner. Then, they picked up Tony Gonzalez which I think will only create more mismatches for opposing defenses. Then, I also thought about the fact that their defense was not great last year – so improving upon that may not be difficult. Possible playoff team again.
- Car (7-9). It’s strange, when Carolina is good their team doesn’t seem to be appreciably different than when they are bad. I don’t really get it. This year, I can see a solid running game (having 4 high quality RBs in DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson and now Tyrell Sutton), perhaps a bit of a revived pass game due to everyone being healthy (and the emergence of Dwayne Jarrett), but I can see there being some questions on defense. Jon Beason’s health is a concern as he is a stud when healthy. (Also, the loss of DT Maake Kemoeatu hurts this defense a lot – he was good last year).
- TB (4-12). I see Tampa winning 4 games at home and that’s it. They may end up with a nice running game and some defensive moments, but that’s about it. The passing game should be questionable at best.