This is a 'Super Bowl or bust' season for the Atlanta Falcons, and as always, their chances of success begin with the QB. Matt Ryan has gotten better with each successive season after his '08 rookie year. Can he continue this trend?
Will Steven Jackson be the added element that puts the Falcons over the top?
How much does Tony Gonzalez have left in the tank?
The Falcons focused on defense in this year's draft, taking Desmond Trufant (CB) Robert Alford (CB) and Malliciah Goodman (DE) with their first 3 picks. Will we see a significant improvements to a defense ranked 23rd and 29th in receiving and rushing yards allowed?
With John Abraham out and Osi Umenyiora in, will the Falcons find a way to generate a pass rush?
Despite becoming a superstar in his own right, Cam Newton has not been able to lead the Panthers to anything better than a 7-9 season (he went 6-10 in his rookie year). Can he take the next step and make the Panthers a winning team?
The Panthers have 4 solid running backs in Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert and rookie Kenjon Barner. Can these guys combine into a formidable rushing attack that would take some of the pressure off Newton?
How much does all-pro WR Steve Smith have left, entering his 13th NFL season?
Will 1st round pick Star Lotulelei improve a defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed?
WR Brandon LaFell has flashed moments of brilliance at the position, but has yet to emerge as a reliable #2 option. Will this be the season he steps up?
New Orleans Saints
This is the revenge season for the Saints after losing their head coach to Bountygate in 2012. Will Sean Payton restore New Orleans as class of the NFC South?
Will we see a re-emergence of the running game, which clearly suffered in Payton's absence?
The Saints defense set a record for yards allowed in a season last year. Surely they won't break their own record this year, but how much better will they be? They drafted safety Kenny Vaccaro and DT John Jenkins with their 1st and 3rd picks this year, hoping to improve the unit.
Brees threw as many touchdowns as we're used to seeing (43) but also 19 interceptions. Can he cut down on the turnovers this year?
The Saints have a big question mark at left tackle this year after losing Jermon Bushrod to free agency. Can Charles Brown or rookie Terron Armstead step up and take his place? We're talking about protecting the blindside of an elite QB here.
Tampa Bay Buccanneers
Is Josh Freeman the QB for this franchise or isn't he? Entering his 5th year, Freeman has been very inconsistent, but the Bucs are built to win now and are looking for a definitive answer.
Can Doug Martin build on an incredible rookie season?
Will Revis be his old self donning a new uniform and playing on a rehabilitated knee?
Can Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson team up to be one of the most feared safety tandems in the league?
Where's the pass rush coming from? They've got talent on that line, but they've yet to see the type of consistency and production from guys like Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Claiborne that they will need to take this defense to the next level.