1. Arizona Cardinals
    The Cardinals have been struggling at quarterback ever since Kurt Warner retired, but they should be able to pick things up now that Carson Palmer is back after missing all of last season due to injury. If he’s healthy, he could lead an offense that features Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, who were both excellent receivers out of college. Those two along with Andre Roberts and Chris Johnson should make the Cardinals a formidable group of pass catchers. And while the offensive line isn’t great, the addition of guard Jonathan Cooper should help them improve. Defensively, the Cardinals need to get younger and faster if they want to compete with the top teams in the league. Safety Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Karlos Dansby are good bets to emerge as playmakers and the defensive front seven could use some improvement. However, the Cardinals still have questions at cornerback, especially given how much money they spent on Revis Island.
  2. Baltimore Ravens
    The Ravens had a disappointing 2012 campaign, finishing 5-11 despite winning their first five games. Quarterback Joe Flacco was inconsistent and Ray Rice wasn’t himself, leaving the offense lacking production. But the additions of tight end Dennis Pitta and running back Justin Forsett should give Flacco a strong supporting cast going forward. Tight ends aren’t normally big contributors, but Pitta played well enough last year to earn a contract worth $32 million over four years. He’ll likely serve as a No. 2 option behind Anquan Boldin and could even take over for him down the road. Forsett will be the biggest beneficiary of the deals handed out to Rice and Jacoby Jones. Both players will provide depth and versatility, giving the Ravens flexibility at running back and wide receiver. On defense, Haloti Ngata returns as the anchor of the line, but the Ravens will miss Paul Kruger’s leadership. In his place, Terrence Cody will step in as a starter. The secondary lost Corey Graham and Cary Williams, and the latter struggled mightily in his lone season with the team. Outside linebackers Jameel McClain and Courtney Upshaw should develop nicely under new coordinator Dean Pees.
  3. Carolina Panthers
    Carolina is coming off a franchise-record 11 wins in 2011 and hopes to build upon its success. Cam Newton showed flashes of greatness last year before suffering a torn ACL in Week 13, but he’s expected to return in time for the start of the regular season. That means the passing game will again center around Steve Smith, who led the NFL in receiving yards per game (119) last year. The Panthers will look to add competition for the starting job opposite Smith by drafting either Mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin in May. Offensive tackle Byron Bell is a solid veteran addition. Up front, the Panthers have plenty of talent — including All-Pro left tackle Jordan Gross — but lack experience. Rookie Star Lotulelei gives them a potential future star on the interior. Even though the defense gave up 28.8 points per game


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