1. New England Patriots:
Any team that has won 3 out of the last 4 Super Bowls belongs to be number 1 in any NFL preview. Plus when you have Tom Brady on your team who is a proven winner, you are number 1. This is a team-oriented team. They play as a team and not as a bunch of individuals like other teams. Many teams have more talent but nobody has been able to stop the Pats. The addition of Dillon last year made this team that much better. The major question now is how are they going to replace Bruschi? The heart and soul of the defense is still recovering from his stroke and will not play this season. Knowing the Pats though, they will find a way and should challenge for the title again this year.
2. Indianapolis Colts:
If the Pats didnít exist, the Colts would be the best team in the AFC if not the NFL. They have such a high powered offense very few defenses can stop them. Manning picked defenses apart like he was playing against high school kids last year. Plus, James found his old game and become a huge part of the offense again. Their major weakness is their defense. If they had a defense like the Steelers, Pats or Ravens, no team could even come close to challenging this team. If they even had the Dolphins defense, they would have been a Super Bowl team. Unfortunately, they have the Colts defense. For this team to take the next step, their defense needs to step up. If the defense is able to step up, they will challenge for the Super Bowl. As for their offense, the only question is what will Manning do next? Many other NFL previews may have the Colts taking over the number 1 spot on this list. They have to prove it to me by beating the Pats. If they prove it and at least make it to the Super Bowl, I'll consider them my number 1 next year on my NFL preview page.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers:
What a season Big Ben had last year. Going 14-1 as a rookie was an incredible feat, one for the ages. But of course it wasnít all him because he had a stellar running game behind him as well as a defense that stopped just about anything in their way. They beat both Super Bowl teams during the regular season but when it came to the playoffs, the proven winner Brady topped the then undefeated rookie. Defense should be strong again this year. The stellar running game is back as well. The question this year is can Big Ben get the Steelers to the promise land or will he have the sophomore slump?
4. Baltimore Ravens:
This is my sleeper team this year. Many NFL previews may not even have them making the playoffs but not me. Jamal Lewis will have a clean mind this year after serving his jail time this summer. He should have no distractions on his mind during the season this year. If Boller breaks through, this will become a solid passing team with the addition of Mason and the first round pick in Clayton to go along with Heap. If Boller passes well, Lewis should push the 1,500 yard mark if not more. And if their defense could get any stronger, it did with the addition of Rolle to compliment McAlister on the other side. Then throw in the top SS in the league in Reed and you have a secondary nobody wants to throw against. Oh, and donít forget that one guy Ray Lewis... he isnít too bad either. They have the defense and if the offense shows up this year, they will challenge the Steelers for the AFC North crown.
5. Kansas City Chiefs:
The 5th spot in this conference could go to just about anybody. The Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, Jets, Jags, Bengals even the Texans could take this spot. You could go through several different NFL previews and any one of these teams would be considered the 5th best in the AFC. I chose the Chiefs in my NFL preview for the reason is they can put up points galore on anybody. They may be able to score more points than the Colts. The only problem with the Chiefs is they may be able to score more points than the Colts but their defense is even worse than the Colts. If the defense steps up just a notch, this team could make some noise. They have a quarterback who can throw for over 4,000 yards, they have the best TE in the game and a running back that smells the endzone like no other. If Holmes comes back strong from his injury, this team could be trouble. They are in the hardest division in the AFC where even a 9-7 record could get you a fourth place finish. Defense steps up and the offense produces, they will finish first with ease.
NFL Previews: Teams To Watch For
San Diego Chargers:
Was last year a fluke?
New York Jets:
Pennington stays injury free, this team could be trouble.
Young team with lots of talent. Maybe next year.
Can they win the close games like they did last year? If so, they will be tough. If not, they could finish 3rd or worse in the division.
With the addition of Moss, this should be a high flying offense. If overlooked, this team will make teams pay.
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Leo Mendelsohn and Richard Peraldo