Last year's playoff teams
Last year: 13-3; won Super Bowl. Summary: They entered the offseason with more free agents than anybody but retained key players like Jahri Evans and Darren Sharper while losing only one starter (LB Scott Fujita). First-round pick Patrick Robinson bolsters a strong secondary. Will Pill-gate be a distraction or a mere nuisance?
Last year: 12-4; lost NFC title game. Summary: Brett Favre's ankle surgery means the lynchpin of last year's playoff run is back. No need to wait until mid-August for that announcement. Plus, the latest court ruling means the Williams Wall might avoid a suspension for taking an illegal drug that theoretically could have been used to mask steroid use. Losing Chester Taylor hurts; the Vikings will count on rookie Toby Gerhart to pick up some of the slack.
Last year: 10-6; won playoff game. Summary: Fortunately for the Cardinals, they play in the lousy NFC West. Kurt Warner retired, Anquan Boldin was traded and Karlos Dansby and Antrell Rolle departed in free agency. Ouch. Looks like the sun has set in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Last year: 11-5; won playoff game. Summary: The monkey is off the back of Tony Romo after the Cowboys trounced the Eagles in the playoffs. With no noteworthy additions or defections, all of the key faces from that team figure to retain their roles for this team. The Cowboys host the Super Bowl and they've got a chance to be playing in it.
Last year: 11-5; lost playoff game. The Packers didn't even bring in a free agent, much less sign one. With the exception of Aaron Kampman, the other 21 preferred starters from last year are back. They're counting on improvement from within and better health at cornerback.
Last year: 11-5; lost playoff game. Summary: It's a new era with Donovan McNabb shipped to division rival Washington. Kevin Kolb, who will make his full-time starting debut in Week 1 against Green Bay, registered just a 31.7 passer rating in two-minute situations compared to 102.5 for McNabb.
Last year's contenders
Last year: 9-7. Summary: The Falcons were a playoff team in 2008 under rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and there's no reason why they won't return in 2010. Atlanta, which was hit hard by injuries last season, plugged a big hole by signing free agent corner Dunta Robinson.
New York Giants
Last year: 8-8. Summary: The Giants shelled out big bucks to upgrade their defense last offseason, but rather than get back to the Super Bowl, the defense crumbled after a 5-0 start. Their big move this offseason was replacing former Packers safety Aaron Rouse with Antrel Rolle.
Last year's afterthoughts
Last year: 8-8. Summary: The Niners didn't lose anyone of note in free agency and upgraded their offensive line with first-rounders Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. Given the Cardinals' losses, the Niners are the team to beat … even without a respectable quarterback.
Last year: 8-8. Summary: The Panthers got rid of longtime mainstays Jake Delhomme and Julius Peppers. Maybe they'll be better with Matt Moore (or Jimmy Clausen) at quarterback, but the Panthers didn't do anything to upgrade the team despite clearing gobs of salary space.
Last year: 7?-9. Summary: The Bears' defense has progressively gotten worse since the Super Bowl, so adding Julius Peppers will help. The big question is whether new offensive coordinator Mike Martz will bring out the best or worst in quarterback Jay Cutler.
Last year: 5-11. Summary: The Seahawks made over their roster with a bunch of veteran role players and three blue-chip rookies: Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Golden Tate. Suddenly, Pete Carroll has a team.
Last year: 4-12. Summary: Trades with division teams are few and far between, and those are rarer still with big-name players. So, what did the Eagles know about Donovan McNabb that the Redskins are going to find out? McNabb (33) isn't young, nor are fellow newcomers on offense Joey Galloway (39), Willie Porter (29) and Larry Johnson (30).
Last year: 3-13. Summary: The Buccaneers clearly have no interest in being a winning franchise. A lousy team that would have been far, far below the salary cap had it not disappeared amid labor strife, the Bucs didn't sign anyone of note and let Antonio Bryant depart in free agency. At least they drafted well.
Last year: 2-14. Summary: The Lions have won a combined two games over the last two years. That won't happen again. They bolstered their defensive line with No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh and free agents Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams, and upgraded their offense with guard Rob Sims, tight end Tony Scheffler and first-round pick Jahvid Best.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.