Here are the teams that I think are contenders to win the Super Bowl this season:
New Orleans Saints: The reigning Super Bowl champs definitely have a shot at a repeat, but I don’t consider them the favorite to win it all this season. The Saints had a lot of lucky bounces go their way last season, and lightning isn’t known to strike twice. Drew Brees leads one of the more prolific offensive attacks in the league, one that sells plenty of NFL tickets, but there are definitely question marks surrounding this team.
How things will shake out in the backfield remains to be seen, no matter whether it’s Pierre Thomas or Reggie Bush that is relied upon more heavily in the running game. The Saints have to prove that they’re able to consistently run the ball on a weekly basis. On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints forced a lot of timely turnovers in 2009, but weren’t the stingiest of defenses.
Indianapolis Colts: I believe that the Colts are the favorite to win the Super Bowl, even though they have some similar issues to the Saints. The Colts need to establish the run more this season, whether it be using Joseph Addai or Donald Brown. Addai is not the most dynamic runner in the league, but he can plod along and get yardage. The real wildcard for 2010 will be Brown, who has disappointed thus far in his NFL career but has a lot of potential. The Indy defense should be solid yet unspectacular, as usual, but I could see the unit slipping a bit this season. The saving grace for the Colts is that they have the best player in the league, Peyton Manning. With Manning and a variety of weapons at his disposal in the passing game, the Colts should again cruise through the regular season and be set up for a deep playoff run.
Dallas Cowboys: They’ve certainly got the talent and they’ve been getting better every year. Expect Tony Romo to have a big year and the offense has the potential to roll over opposing defenses in 2010. However, this offense has been a good one for years and the team has still struggled in the postseason. That’s why I believe it will be their defense that will make the Boys a legitimate contender for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. This unit is solid on every level and should be able to put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If I had to bet on one team in the NFC, it would be Dallas.
Green Bay Packers: They might be too young to make it happen, but the Packers could be really good this season. I expect Aaron Rodgers and company to reclaim the NFC North title in 2010 and could go beyond that if things go well. Rodgers is already one of the best quarterbacks around and runs one of the better offenses in the league. If Jermichael Finley comes into his own this season, watch out. The main things that the Pack will have to improve on is protecting Rodgers and sustaining consistency on defense. If the Packers can bend but not break on D, they could make a real run at the big game.
Baltimore Ravens: I don’t think they’re quite ready and their secondary issues scare me, but I feel like they’re worth mentioning. The offense could really take flight this season and Ray Rice could be the best back in the league in 2010.
New England Patriots: The defense could be terrible, but I had to mention a team that has a healthy Tom Brady and a motivated Randy Moss.
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