NFC team-by-team preview

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:36 AM ET

EAST DIVISION

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2010: 10-5, Division title

Major Additions: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DE Jason Babin, RB Ronnie Brown, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DT Cullen Jenkins, QB Vince Young, OT Ryan Harris.

Major Deletions: K David Akers, S Quintin Mikell, QB Kevin Kolb, G Max Jean-Gilles, LB Stewart Bradley, LB Ernie Sims.

Just Stuff: The Eagles landed the top prize in CB Nnamdi Asomugha to round out their free agent acquisitions ... The Eagles secondary was suspect last year but they’ve plugged that leak ... Juan Castillo is their new defensive coordinator despite never having coached on the defensive side of the ball ... Michael Vick had a tremendous season and was awarded handsomely but can he stay healthy for all of 2011? ... With David Akers gone, will the Eagles get their kicks out of rookie Alex Henery? ... It’s Super Bowl or bust.

Big Question: Can the Eagles fulfill the ‘Dream Team’ predictions?

2. Dallas Cowboys

2010: 6-10

Major Additions: OT Tyron Smith (rookie), RB DeMarco Murray (rookie), S Abram Elam, DE Kenyon Coleman.

Major Deletions: RB Marion Barber, WR Roy Williams, DE Stephen Bowen, RG Leonard Davis, OT Marc Colombo, WR Sam Hurd.

Just Stuff: Can Rob Ryan perform some magic as the new defensive coordinator? His biggest challenge is the past defence which was dreadful ... With the Roy Williams experiment over, the pressure falls on Dez Bryant who must prove that he has matured in his work habits ... The Cowboys have revamped their O-line and it needs to keep QB Tony Romo upright ... Romo for his part has to prove he is a leader and can win the big ones.

Big Question: Can Jason Garrett continue the overhaul of the slack Cowboys culture.

3. New York Giants

2010: 10-6

Major Additions: C David Baa, DT Marvin Austin (rookie), CB Prince Amukamara (rookie), DT Gabe Watson, OL Stacy Andrews, QB David Carr, RB Andre Brown.

Major Deletions: WR Steve Smith, C Shaun O’Hara, G Rich Seubert, DT Barry Cofield, TE Kevin Boss.

Just Stuff: Eli Manning said he considers himself to be an elite quarterback. Now he has to back up those words ... His job won’t be easier with the loss of two of his favourite targets in Steve Smith and Kevin Boss ... The defence has been decimated by preseason injuries as rookie DT Marvin Austin, LB Clint Sintim and CB Terrell Thomas are all out for the season. First-round pick Prince Amukamara is also expected to miss the first portion of the season as is DL Osi Umenyiora ... There is always pressure on coach Tom Coughlin and the Giants must go deep into the playoffs for him to secure his job.

Big Question: Can Eli Manning keep the ball out of the oppositions hands (25 interceptions)?

4. Washington Redskins

2010: 6-10

Major Additions: NT Barry Cofield, DE Stephen Bowen, G Chris Chester, RB Tim Hightower, WR Donte Stallworth, S O.J. Atogwe, LB Ryan Kerrigan (rookie).

Major Deletions: CB Carlos Rogers, DL Albert Haynesworth, QB Donovan McNabb, DE Vonnie Holliday, OT Stephon Heyer, DE Andre Carter, RB Clinton Portis, DL Jeremy Jarmon.

Just stuff: Donovan McNabb was a complete bust but is John Beck the answer? ... To no surprise, Shanahan peddled Albert Haynesworth ... If Beck doesn’t work out, then it’s Rex Grossman ... The Redskins defence, usually a strong point, ranked 31st overall last year and has been revamped ... The O-line has to create holes for a running game ... Does the Beck-Grossman duo add up to a shot at Andrew Luck?

Big Question: Has Mike Shanahan lost his marbles?

NORTH DIVISION

1. Green Bay Packers

2010: 10-6, Super Bowl champs

Major Additions: OL Derek Sherrod (rookie), WR Randall Cobb (rookie)

Major Deletions: DE Cullen Jenkins, RB Brandon Jackson, G Daryn Colledge, FB Korey Hall, OL Jason Spitz.

Just stuff: RB Ryan Grant is back and healthy but has he lost his job to James Starks? ... The Pack have an embarrassment of talent on the receiving end ... QB Aaron Rodgers was sensational last season but he still looks like he hasn’t reached his peak ... The Pack will basically return with the same lineup that won it all. They had a number of key injuries last year and those players are returning ... One area where they will show improvement is on special teams and in rookie Randall Cobb they have a burner returning kicks.

Big Question: Can the Pack be the first team to repeat since the 2004-05 New England Patriots?

2. Detroit Lions

2010: 6-10

Major Additions: LB Justin Durant, LB Stephen Tulloch, CB Eric Wright, S Erik Coleman, DE Nick Fairley (rookie), RB Mikel Leshoure (rookie)

Major Deletions: LB Julian Peterson, WR Bryant Johnson, DE Turk McBride, RB Kevin Smith, CB Eric King (free agent), LB Landon Johnson.

Just Stuff: The Lions are just about everybody’s sweetheart pick to show the biggest improvement. Who knows, maybe they make the playoffs? ... QB Matthew Stafford has looked sharp in preseason and that has to be encouraging ... There’s no question that they will pile up the points but can their secondary stop anybody? ... The O-line allowed just 26 sacks last season and must needs a repeat of that performance ... The Lions believe that rookie Nick Fairley will be as much a beast as Ndamukong Suh, and that’s scary.

Big Question: Can QB Matthew Stafford remain healthy?

3. Chicago Bears

2010: 11-5, Division winners

Major Additions: S Brandon Meriweather, WR Roy Williams, RB Marion Barber, WR Sam Hurd, C Chris Spencer, TE Matt Spaeth, DT Amobi Okoye, T Gabe Carimi (rookie)

Major Deletions: C Olin Kreutz, TE Greg Olsen, DT Tommie Harris, S Danieal Manning, WR Devin Aromashodu.

Just Stuff: QB Jake Cutler was often running for his life due to the porous nature of the O-line that allowed a league-worst 56 sacks. That has to improve ... In an effort to beef up their receiving corps, the Bears added Roy Williams ... The team that will be most penalized by the new kickoff rules will be the Bears. Devin Hester is the best return player in the biz and if he has fewer returns it’s the loss of a major weapon ... The Bears need a greater inside rush from their tackles to take the heat off Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije.

Big Question: Can Jake Cutler shed his ‘quit on the team’ tag?

4. Minnesota Vikings

2010: 6-10

Major Additions: QB Donovan McNabb, OL Charlie Johnson, WR Devin Aromashodu, WR Michael Jenkins, QB Christian Ponder (rookie).

Major Deletions: QB Brett Favre, WR Sidney Rice, QB Tarvaris Jackson, T Bryant McKinnie S Madieu Williams, DE Ray Edwards.

Just Stuff: So it’s Donovan McNabb in and Brett Favre out. Is this an improvement? ... Early in camp, coach Leslie Frazier wanted to show there’s a new sheriff in town and released LT Bryant McKinnie. That may come back to bite him ... Just who replaces WR Sidney Rice? ... How many games into the season before the Vikings turn to rookie Christian Ponder? ... RB Adrian Peterson remains one of the best.

Big Question: Does Donovan McNabb have anything left?

SOUTH DIVISION

1. New Orleans Saints

2010: 10-6, Wild card

Major Additions: DT Aubrayo Franklin, C Olin Kreutz, DT Shaun Rogers, RB Darren Sproles, LB Will Herring, S Jonathon Amaya, DE Cameron Jordan (rookie), RB Mark Ingram (rookie)

Major Deletions: RB Reggie Bush, TE Jeremy Shockey, DT Remi Ayodele, C Jonathan Goodwin, DT Anthony Hargrove, S Usama Young.

Just Stuff: The Saints should prosper from the trade of Bush, who never lived up to his hype. This year veteran Darren Sproles and Alabama All-American Mark Ingram to fill the role ... Ingram will be able to pound inside the tackles inside the 10 ... Saints defence haunted all winter and spring by the horror of the brutal lack of tackling skills they employed in embarrassing loss to Seattle in the playoffs ... Need QB Drew Brees to return to top form to hold off the surging Falcons and Bucs.

Big Question: Now that Drew Brees has his health back will he find the magic of 2009?

2. Atlanta Falcons

2010: 13-3 (Division title)

Major Additions: WR Julio Jones (rookie), DE Ray Edwards, LB Akeem Dent (rookie).

Major Deletions: OG Harvey Dahl, WR Michael Jenkins, DT Jamaal Anderson.

Just Stuff: The Falcons showed patience the previous three years and were awarded with three consecutive winnings seasons ... Perhaps corrupted by the success of last year’s regular season and crushing loss in the playoffs, owner Arthur Blank has thrown all of his chips on to rookie receiver Julio Jones. The cost was five draft picks headed Cleveland’s way. He better be worth it ... Last season just about everything broke the Falcons way led by all their comeback victories. This season should see them come back to earth a bit.

Big Question: Can receiver Julio Jones live up to all the hype and open the Falcons passing game to a three-ring circus, the other rings being Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez?

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2010: 10-6.

Major Additions: DE Adrian Clayborn (rookie), DE Da’Quan Bowers (rookie).

Major Deletions: LB Barrett Ruud, RB Cadillac Williams, MLB Barrett Ruud.

Just stuff: The Bucs achieved their goal of 10 wins last season but continually came up flat when facing teams with a winning record ... The Bucs need DE Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in 2010, to step it up in his second season ... Tampa’s first two picks in this year’s draft were defensive lineman as McCoy can use the help ... LeGarrette Blount needs to stay healthy for their ground game to go ... If QB Josh Freeman stays on the same learning curve the Bucs will be pushing both the Falcons and Saints.

Big Question: Can the Bucs show improvement faced with a tougher schedule.

4. Carolina Panthers

2010: 2-14

Major Additions: Head coach Ron Rivera, QB Cam Newton (rookie), TE Greg Olsen, TE Jeremy Shockey, DT Terrell McClain (rookie), WR Legedu Naanee, TE Ben Hartsock, S Sean Considine.

Major Deletions: Head coach John Fox, QB Matt Moore, CB Richard Marshall, TE Jeff King, TE Dante Rosariom DE Tyler Brayton, DT Derek Landri, K John Kasay.

Just Stuff: After the disgruntled Steve Smith, just who is there for Newton to throw the ball to? ... Cam Newton got the nod to be the Panthers starting QB and there isn’t a person on the planet — oh yeah, there’s Bo Jackson — who thinks he’s ready for the job ... When in doubt, Newton will tuck the ball and run ... Last year the Panthers finished dead last in scoring (196 points) and dead last in passing. Will those numbers improve under Newton?

Big Question: Will Cam Newton at quarterback be enough to bring the fans back into the seats?

WEST DIVISION

1. St. Louis Rams

2010: 7-9

Major Additions: S Quintin Mikell, OG Harvey Dahl, WR Mike Sims-Walker, DT Daniel Muir, RB Cadillac Williams, LB Brady Poppinga, LB Zac Diles, CB Al Harris, DE Robert Quinn (rookie), TE Lance Kendricks (rookie).

Major Deletions: S Oshiomogho Atogwe, LB Larry Grant, OG John Greco, TE Daniel Fells, RB Kenneth Darby.

Just Stuff: It’s only the preseason and that usually means squat but second-year QB Sam Bradford looks like he is adjusting quickly to the system installed by new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels ... Last season the Rams ere a ‘surprise’ this season they have the expectation of winning ... The Rams have little depth at running back and if anything happens to the durable Steven Jackson they’re in big trouble ... Under McDaniels, look for the wraps to come off Bradford.

Big Question: Can the Rams handle the expectations of being the favourites to win the division?

2. Arizona Cardinals

2010: 5-11

Major Additions: QB Kevin Kolb, G Daryn Colledge, LB Stewart Bradley, CB Richard Marshall, TE Todd Heap, TE Jeff King, DE Nick Eason, DL Vonnie Holliday, WR Chansi Stuckey, G Floyd Womack, CB Patrick Peterson (rookie), RB Ryan Williams (rookie).

Major Deletions: WR Steve Breaston, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, LG Alan Faneca , LB Gerald Hayes, QB Derek Anderson, RB Tim Hightower .

Just Stuff: Offensively the Cards simply stunk last season during their carousel of failed quarterbacks as they were last in rushing and second last in passing ... The addition of QB Kevin Kolb lifts the Cardinals into a team that can compete for the title ... The happiest Cardinal in camp has been wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald ... Outside linebacker Joey Porter was a bust last season. He needs to rebound in a big way this season ... Running back Beanie Wells needs to prove he can do the heavy lifting game in and game out.

Big Question: How big an impact can Kevin Kolb make?

3. San Francisco 49ers

2010: 6-10

Major Additions: Jim Harbaugh head coach, WR Braylon Edwards, LB Aldon Smith (rookie), QB Colin Kaepernick (rookie), CB Carlos Rogers, C Jonathan Goodwin, S Donte Whitner, S Madieu Williams, K David Akers, LB Larry Grant.

Major Deletions: Mike Singletary head coach, NT Aubrayo Franklin, LB Takeo Spikes, LB Manny Lawson, C David Baas, CB Nate Clements, K Joe Nedney.

Just Stuff: The last time the Niners were in the playoffs was 2002 ... Is this 1979 all over again and is Jim Harbaugh the second coming of Bill Walsh? ... This should be the final warning for QB Alex Smith — produce or else ... If Smith bombs early, look for Harbaugh to quickly turn to Colin Kaepernick ... Braylon Edwards is on a one-year deal which should provide motivation to keep on the straight and narrow ... RB Frank Gore got his contract so he should be a happy camper.

Big Question: Can Jim Harbaugh get the best that Alex Smith has to offer?

4. Seattle Seahawks

2010: 7-9 (Division Title)

Major Additions: QB Tarvaris Jackson, WR Sidney Rice , G Robert Gallery, TE Zach Miller, DT Alan Branch, T James Carpenter (rookie).

Major Deletions: QB Matt Hasselbeck, LB Lofa Tatupu, S Lawyer Milloy, K Olindo Mare,, C Chris Spencer, T Sean Locklear, S Jordan Babineaux.

Just Stuff: The Seahawks pulled out the plum of a division title and an unexpected win over the Saints in the playoffs. That series of flukes won’t reappear this season ... Under Pete Carroll this team just keeps getting younger ... Tarvaris Jackson as the starting quarterback? Are you serious? ... How quickly or will the young offensive line jell ... It’s go young or go home for the youthful secondary.

Big Question: Is Pete Carroll trolling for Andrew Luck?


Videos

Photos