1. New England. Yes, New England. The defense is on the rise. The offense is dynamic. The only serious question is what happens with Welker. If he's there, can they get over the hump? If he's not, what does their offense look like? This team is still a monumental powerhouse. 2. San Francisco. Young, athletic, and Kaepernick should only get better. The only issue here really is the old "loser of the SB never seems to return there the next year" thingy. The Pats almost overcame that this year, but couldn't. And the NFC has some fierce competition. 3. Atlanta. I think next year is make or break for Atlanta. They got over the playoff jinx this year and have all the pieces in place for a SB run. If they can't do it next year, I don't know if I see it happening. 4. Baltimore. Should they be higher? Maybe. But they're definitely losing Ray Lewis, who clearly inspired them - call it an intangible, whatever, but they rallied around him this year. And they might be losing Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. Flacco's soon-to-be enormous contract will pinch the roster elsewhere. But they are obviously very good. 5. NY Giants. I'm still a believer in Big Blue. They will bounce back in a big way next year and I see them competing for a SB berth.