By Nick Ferraro
1.Â Pittsburgh Steelers â€“ losing Randle El and Bettis isnâ€™t enough to drop the champs from the top spot to enter the season.Â The running game will be fine, and the air attack they flashed in the playoffs has to worry the rest of the league.
2.Â Â Seattle Seahawks â€“ the Seahawks defense made a hot Steeler offense look bad in the Super Bowl, and they will be better this year after adding Julian Peterson.Â The rest of the NFC is still a step behind.
3.Â Â Indianapolis â€“ Losing Edgerrin James will hurt, but the Colts were 11th in total defense last year. If they are anywhere near that high again this year, theyâ€™ll be home again for the playoffs. Are you really worried about them scoring points?
4.Â Â Denver Broncos â€“ Denver was 4th in the league in points allowed and 4th in total offense.Â Javon Walkerâ€™s arrival and the running game make Denver a contender.
5.Â Â Carolina Panthers â€“ the Panthers are this year hot pick for the Super Bowl.Â The missing piece was Keyshawn Johnson?
6.Â Â Cincinnati Bengals â€“ Palmer appears to be fine.Â The defense is opportunistic but are they ready to win in December?
7.Â Â New England â€“ Brady gives them the edge in the AFC East, but the Pats are not close to what they were a few years ago.Â Add receiver to offensive line and secondary as a position of concern if Deion Branch is not on the field.
8.Â Â Dallas Cowboys â€“ While everyone focuses on Owens, the Cowboys will win with defense.Â There may be enough offense with or without T.O. to contend for the NFC title.
9.Â Â New York Giants â€“ The Giants focused on defense in the offseason, but the secondary is still a concern. It may not matter with the pass rush NY can bring.Â The Giants can be a contender or playoff spectators.Â It wouldnâ€™t surprise either way.
10.Â Miami Dolphins â€“ There is a lot to like on paper, but thatâ€™s paper.Â Ronnie Brown and the OL are the keys.Â If both improve, they can unseat the Pats.
11.Â San Diego â€“ The Chargers are the team everyone is forgetting about in the AFC.
12.Â Tampa Bay â€“ Simms will get better.Â He doesnâ€™t have to do much for the Bucs to win.
13.Â Chicago Bears â€“ the sooner the Bears realize Brian Griese is the best QB on the roster, the sooner Chicago will become a legit contender.
14.Â Philadelphia Eagles â€“ the Eagles are healthy and still have a lot of talent.Â Theyâ€™ll make life even more difficult in the NFC East, but the running game keeps them from thinking big.
15.Â Baltimore Ravens â€“ McNair gives the Ravens a shot if they can resurrect their running game.
16.Â Jacksonville Jaguars â€“ The defense gets the Jags to this spot. Â Offensively the Jags were bad last year, and now they have to try it without Jimmy Smith.
17.Â Washington Redskins â€“ Yes, itâ€™s just the preseason, but how good can you feel about a team who failed to put a single point on the board with the first-team offense on the field?
18.Â Kansas City Chiefs â€“ There still isnâ€™t enough defense in KC.Â Now there are concerns on offense with the losses on the line.
19.Â Atlanta Falcons â€“ New year, same question: Does Vick become a passer?Â If so, they can be as good as anyone.
20.Â Minnesota Vikings â€“ There should be some holes to run through, as the Vikings line is legit.Â How good can Brad Johnson play, and who does he throw to on the outside?
21.Â St. Louis Rams â€“ The Rams will play better than people predict, but they are still not a good team.
22.Â Arizona Cardinals â€“ Firepower is not an issue.Â Everything else still is.
23.Â Houston Texans â€“ the Texans are improved on defense.Â They are headed for a lot of close losses this year as they rebuild.
24.Â Green Bay Packers â€“ Theyâ€™re bad, but not as bad as you might think.
25.Â New York Jets – Call me crazy, but I think the Jets will find ways to win a few games this season, and they are rebuilding the right way at the same time.Â I hope Curtis Martinâ€™s career doesnâ€™t end with this injury.Â
26.Â Cleveland Browns â€“ Injuries on the OL have wrecked what might have been a halfway decent year for the Browns.
27.Â New Orleans Saints â€“ Brees was a nice pick up, and Bush will excite people.Â Finally having real home games will be a plus. There are many holes on both sides of the ball though.
28.Â Detroit Lions â€“ â€œWith the 9th pick in the 2006 NFL draft, the Lions selectâ€?â€¦ Jon Kitna to play QB for 16 games. How much will Lions fans enjoy watching Matt Leinart and Jay Cutlerâ€™s careers?
29.Â Oakland Raiders â€“ Can you remember how good the Raiders were just a few years ago?
30.Â San Francisco 49ers â€“ This is another team that is rebuilding nicely.Â They may squeak a few wins out of a weak schedule.
31.Â Tennessee Titans â€“ The only thing interesting in Tennessee is wondering when Vince Young gets to play.
32. Buffalo Bills â€“ The Bills are on the clock.