Offseason additions: G Adam Snyder, DE/OLB Quentin Groves, CB William Gay, S James Sanders
Key draft picks: WR Michael Floyd, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Bobby Massie, G Senio Kelemete
Offseason losses: OT Brandon Keith, G Rex Hadnot, CB Richard Marshall
Outlook: Cardinals fans were ecstatic when the team drafted wide receiver Michael Floyd out of Notre Dame in the first round, but who is going to throw the ball to him? Kevin Kolb has the big contract but cant seem to hold onto the job either because he cant stay healthy or he doesnt play well. John Skelton is an unheralded quarterback from Fordham, but the team seems to play better with him under center. Who plays better when he gets his chance will go a long way toward determining Arizonas season.
Offseason additions: QB Matt Flynn, RB Kregg Lumpkin, G Deuce Lutui, DT Jason Jones, ILB Barrett Ruud, WR Braylon Edwards, TE Kellen Winslow
Key draft picks: DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, LB Bobby Wagner, QB Russell Wilson, RB Robert Turbin, DT Jaye Howard
Offseason losses: RB Justin Forsett, WR Mike Williams, TE John Carlson, G Robert Gallery, DE Raheem Brock, DT Tony Hargrove, ILB David Hawthorne, ILB Lofa Tatupu, SS Atari Bigby
Outlook: The quarterback situation is murky at best. Seattle signed Flynn as a free agent in the offseason and gave him a big contract, but third-round pick Wilson will be the starter to open the season. Imagine where the Seahawks could have spent the money if they hadnt signed Flynn?
ST. LOUIS RAMS
Offseason additions: WR Steve Smith, OT Barry Richardson, C Scott Wells, DE William Hayes, DT Kendall Langford, DT Trevor Laws, OLB Mario Haggan, OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, CB Cortland Finnegan
Key draft picks: DT Michael Brockers, WR Brian Quick, CB Janoris Jenkins, RB Isaiah Pead, S Trumaine Johnson, WR Chris Givens, K Greg Zuerlein
Offseason losses: RB Cadillac Williams, WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Mark Clayton, G Jacob Bell, G Adam Goldberg, C Jason Brown, DE James Hall, DT Justin Bannan, DT Fred Robbins, DT Gary Gibson, OLB Chris Chamberlain, OLB Brady Poppinga, CB Ronald Bartell, CB Justin King, K Josh Brown, P Donnie Jones
Outlook: The Rams have better days ahead, but not now. St. Louis traded down and netted a number of picks for the future.
THE REST OF THE NFC
ATLANTA FALCONS The Falcons are in playoff limbo. They are a team that is always in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs but cant seem to make the jump to Super Bowl contender. Those hopes could rely on second-year wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones development means opponents cant double team him, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White at the same time. They also cant give Michael Turner running room. Also, dont underestimate the trade for Asante Samuel. He could solidify the defense.
What will quarterback Cam Newton do for an encore in his second year? He threw for 4,000 yards and set a rookie record for rushing touchdowns with 14. Its defense where the Panthers can make the biggest jump. With the return of Jon Beason, along with rookie Luke Kuechly, the linebacking corps should make a huge leap.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
After a difficult and controversy-filled offseason, the Saints should be happy to simply get back on the field. It took most of the offseason to re-sign record-setting quarterback Drew Brees, and thanks to Bountygate, the Saints will play without their head coach all season and his assistant head coach for the first six games of the season. On the field, the Saints might have to play without linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is appealing his one-year suspension for his role in the scandal.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The Bucs took a giant step back last year, going from 10-6 to 4-12. Coach Raheem Morris was fired as a result and replaced by Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Schiano is a disciplinarian who will push quarterback Josh Freeman.
The Bears were cruising along at 7-3 before the loss of quarterback Jay Cutler to a thumb injury. A week later, star running back Matt Forte suffered a knee injury and the season was essentially over. The duo returns and adds Pro Bowl MVP Brandon Marshall, who was acquired from the Dolphins for two third-round picks. The aging defense needs to hold on until the offense gets its act together and makes an impact.
The Lions improved from 3-13 to 10-6 and a playoff appearance in one season. The next step is legitimate playoff contender in the same division as the 15-1 Packers. The offense, led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, can score on anyone, and the defensive line is imposing when Ndamukong Suh isnt suspended. If the Lions can grow up after an offseason full of arrests, improve in the defensive backfield and find a running back among Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith and Mikel Leshoure, they could go far.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
A 15-1 season went up in smoke with a playoff loss to the Giants. Despite the stellar regular season, the Packers finished last in overall defense and devoted their first six draft picks to that side of the ball. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an MVP season, but with the loss of backup Matt Flynn to free agency, the pass-happy Packers are in deep trouble if something happens to Rodgers.
How much can the Vikings really expect from running back Adrian Peterson, who is coming back from a torn ACL late last season? He is scheduled to play from Week 1, but these injuries usually take a full year to heal.
DALLAS COWBOYS The championship window is closing fast for Tony Romo and Co. The Cowboys invested heavily on defense with four draft picks, but the injuries (Jason Witten) and offseason drama (De Bryant) could throw off the timing of the receiving corps. A healthy DeMarco Murray at running back would help.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Dont let the shine of last seasons Super Bowl hide some obvious warts. The Giants squeaked into the playoffs before getting hot and lost one of their best receivers (Mario Manning ham), tight ends (Jake Ballard) and running backs (Brandon Jacobs). The Giants struggled running the ball, but the additio of running back David Wilson will help. The NFC East is loaded so a return to the playoffs is no guarantee.
Last season at this time, the Eagles were compared to the Hea for their star-studded offseason pickups. The Eagles didnt make the playoffs but finished strong, proving that their talent is still there. Coach Andy Reid, dealing with the death of his so during training camp, has his hands full on and off the field. The Eagles could flame out again or win the Super Bowl.
The Redskins paid a big price to move up and draft Robert Griffin III, but it will take time. Look for Leonard Hankerson to make a big leap forward. Last season, Hankerson had eight catches for 106 yards against the Dolphins before he was lost for the season with a hip injury. Hankerson would give Griffin a big-play threat. Now if coach Mike Shanahan could settle on a running back.