1) San Francisco 49ers - The team that represented the NFC last February brings back pretty much the entire team. Young quarterback Colin Kaepernick gets a full off season as the starter and the coaches can develop game plans suited to his strengths. The signing of wide receiver Anquan Boldin helps improve the 49ers weakest element on offense. The running game and defense should both be top 5 units, and perhaps even better with the return of running back Kendall Hunter, who went down last season with an injury. The kicking game should be better as well, with the addition of veteran kicker Phil Dawson, signed to replace the shaky David Akers. The 49ers have all the pieces to go all the way, its just a matter of how Coach Harbaugh chooses to use these pieces.
2) Green Bay Packers - This team is not far removed from hoisting the Lombardi trophy, and they feature arguably the best player in the entire league, Aaron Rogers. While they may not be the most balanced team, the offense can more than carry the team. The receiving corps is probably the best in football, even with the loss of Greg Jennings. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones can match up with any secondary, and Rogers can strike from anywhere on the field. The addition of running back Eddie Lacy via the draft gives the offense another dimension that was missing for most of last year. If Lacy can command attention, this offense is going to be historically good.
3) Seattle Seahwaks - It is not too often that you get two teams from the same divison in a top 3 list, but the Seahwaks are loaded on both sides of the ball. Second year quarterback Russell Wilson should be more involved in the offense, and running back Marshawn Lynch remains one of the best runners in the league. Add to that the addition of game changing wide receiver Percy Harvin in a trade from Minnesota and the offense is going to be fun to watch. But the real story of the Seahawks is the defense. Boasting arguably the leagues best secondary, they got stronger with the free agent signings of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. The Seahawks and 49ers should be going head to head for division supremacy for the next few years.
1) Denver Broncos - The Broncos were upset at home by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Coming into his second year with the team, Peyton Manning and company are poised for a serious run. They signed free agent wide receiver Wes Welker away from New England, and now have given Peyton Manning his best corps of receivers ever. The addition of running back Montee Ball should give the Broncos more balance on offense. It is going to be fun watching the break neck pace these guys will set on offense.
2) Houston Texans - The Houston Texans finally arrived last year as an elite team. Although one of their best defensive players was out for most of the year, they still had an intimidating defense. Led by all pro defensive end J.J. Watt, the defense will get back linebacker Brian Cushing and should get a boost from newly signed safety, future hall of famer Ed Reed. The offense boasts one of the best overall running backs in the league in Arian Foster. Perennial Pro Bowl wider receiver Andre Johnson finally got his wish when the team used their first round draft pick of receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Although Johnson will probably still see double teams, the addition of Hopkins could pay huge dividends.
3) New England Patriots - Tom Brady does nothing but win games. While the Pats haven't made any huge additions, they boast one of the most disciplined teams in the game. Plus, they play in one of the worst divisions in football. Since winning the division is almost a foregone conclusion, that means they will get at least one home playoff game. Brady is almost perfect at home in January, so one win would put them in the AFC title game. Tom Brady usually shines brightest on the biggest stages, so it is unwise to ever count them out until they are mathematically eliminated.