1.)New Orleans Saints– Drew Brees made the cover of this year’s Madden NFL but for a guy like him, I doubt even the prospect of the Madden curse will get in the way of his determination to lead his team back to another super bowl. Since joining the Saints in 2006, Brees has been a pass happy guy who hasn’t been afraid to spread the ball around. While New Orlean’s offense has been top ranked since he joined the team, their defense hasn’t always stepped up when needed. That changed in 2010 when the Saints defense began to specialize more so in taking the ball away from the other team’s offense. Getting safety Darren Sharper back for the new season was a big plus. The Super Bowl defending champions will need to focus on getting better play out of Reggie Bush and keeping their defense doing what they do the best, taking the ball away from the other team’s offense. This is a team that is truly centered around Brees, a guy without a favorite target, a guy who spreads the ball around and I’d look for them to easily win the NFC south next year.
2.)Minnesota Vikings– Despite all the diva talk, it’s still more fun to watch Brett Favre play than any other quarterback in the NFL -besides Drew Brees. Assuming Favre returns, the Vikings are almost certain to return to the playoffs. While Favre had off-season surgery on his ankle all signs point to him returning so far…but with Favre you never know. While Favre watch continues, the Vikings will continue to concentrate on improving their run assault, with Adrian Peterson leading the way. Although towards the end of the year last year Peterson’s play began to slide i’d still expect another big season from him. Sure, there were a few low points in the season- like the game against the Panthers. However, their defense is also still among the best with Jared Allen leading the way. The guy got a lot of sacks last year and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play like that again in 2010. And some of the best for last, i’d expect another big year for wideouts Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice…that is, if Favre returns. The first game of the 2010 season will be a rematch in the super dome of last season’s NFC championship game between the Vikes and Saints.
3.)Dallas Cowboys– Besides the Vikings, Dallas is still one of the most well balanced teams in the NFL. Last year, they got a lot of pressure off their shoulders-finally winning a playoff game for the first time in a long, long time(1996 to be exact), but just winning 1 playoff game isn’t necessarily enough to say you’re a definite super bowl contender the next year around. Sure, last year they beat the eventual Super Bowl Champion Saints, but by that point in the season- the Saints were pretty banged up. The Cowboys did a great job staying healthy last year and still have a great running game with Marion Barber and Felix Jones in the back field. Romo is now a proven winner and has come a long way since his playoff gaffe in 2006. With the addition of Dez Bryant at wide receiver and the Romo-Witten connection still intact-i’d look at another year of high ranked offense from Dallas. That’s not to mention their feisty defense, lead by Demarcus Ware. However, the last playoff game loss to Minnesota was a large embarrassment and the Cowboys will need to stay focused, especially in December when most is on the line.