The NFL has also taught us that the league is always going to unpredictable and teams don’t usually progress in a linear fashion. Despite all that, we’ll still try to predict who will be the teams to beat in 2010.
And we’ll expect this list to look awfully silly by next season.
Looking ahead to 2010:
Peyton Manning in his prime practically guarantees 12 wins. You can’t say that about any other team. (The development of his young receivers won’t hurt either.)
2. Green Bay
The NFL’s youngest team four years running, the Packers are ready to grow up. Offense is more consistent year-to-year than defense in general, and there are few offenses that can match up with Aaron Rodgers and company.
3. San Diego
The top of this list is about quarterbacks we trust. Philip Rivers is on the ascent, the AFC West remains poor overall, and getting rid of LaDainian Tomlinson should help solve the running game.
Their problems (terrible luck, special teams) are correctable. Their program is consistent and they draft well. There may not be a team with more playmakers on both sides of the ball.
5. New England
Brady and Belichick have traditionally enjoyed their best seasons as underdogs. It’s been a while since they had this much to prove.
6. New Orleans
A city that is knows a thing or two about hangovers will experience one next season. The offense will hum, but they need a major youth infusion in their defensive front seven.
Are the Steelers too old? What do the Cowboys do with Roy Williams? Answers for all 32 teams
We worry about the age on their offensive line, but they have the quarterback in his prime, depth everywhere else, and the right defensive play-caller.
This young offense is just coming together. Look for one last title try before Donovan McNabb is finally run out of town.
9. New York Jets
They will go as far as Mark Sanchez’s improvement allows, because they can’t expect the defense to be that dominant again.
They have the game’s most dangerous weapon (Chris Johnson) playing behind what may be the league’s best offensive line. Jeff Fisher can figure out the rest on defense.
To be determined
Minnesota. If Brett Favre returns or they swing a trade for Donovan McNabb, Minnesota’s our NFC favorite. If Tarvaris Jackson is the starter, they are an average team.
Miami. The Dolphins have laid a great foundation with strong players on the offensive and defensive line. If Chad Henne is as good as we think he is, the AFC East could be the best division in football.
Denver. Forget all the drama and you see this was a team that overachieved in 2009. They should be greater than the sum of their parts again. The parts should improve.
ALSO ON THIS STORY
Arizona. Without Kurt Warner, they are just another mediocre NFC West team.
Cincinnati. Playing in a division with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and an improving Cleveland team will make life difficult.
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Woodson back to the beginning
ProFootballTalk: Charles Woodson's career has come full circle after inking a deal with the team that drafted him. But was the deal done out of desperation on Woodson's part?
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.