Analysis

Patriots, Panthers among most well-rounded teams heading into 2016

On Monday night, all sports-loving eyes were on NRG Stadium. No, the Texans haven't extended their season into April. The home of J.J. Watt played host to college basketball's national championship game between North Carolina and Villanova. The Wildcats beat the Tar Heels 77-74 with a buzzer beater by Kris Jenkins.

Some years, the title game is littered with future NBA lottery picks and high-profile stars. That just isn't the case this time around. Both UNC and 'Nova got to this point due to their all-around qualities. These are two deep, balanced, collaborative teams.

With that in mind, let's relate this back to the NFL: Heading into the 2016 campaign, which franchise boasts the most well-rounded roster in the league?

The team with the most well-rounded roster isn't necessary the best team.

Last year, based on combined rank in scoring offense and scoring defense, Seattle was the most balanced team. (The Seahawks were No. 1 in scoring defense and No. 4 in scoring offense.) But right now -- with the losses of Marshawn Lynch, Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy -- I think the offense will take a step back.

At the moment, I believe Carolina is the most balanced team. The Panthers will return basically the same team that just went to the Super Bowl. They were No. 1 in scoring offense last year -- and that was without Kelvin Benjamin, who'll be back in the fall. Carolina ranked sixth in scoring defense and returns most of the same players on that side of the ball, as well. I have to go with the New England Patriots. Starting on offense, they have a franchise quarterback in Tom Brady and have improved their receiving corps to the point where they have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league in tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Those two are surrounded with complementary pieces in the passing game with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, along with the additions of Nate Washington and Chris Hogan.

Even though New England's defense lost Chandler Jones, it added a nice component in Chris Long. The Patriots have enough veterans to jump-start a defense that was already good in 2015. When adding the coaching element to the pieces in place, I think the Patriots are one of the front-runners to get to Super Bowl LI, without question. My choice is Seattle. The Seahawks have talent in place at quarterback, linebacker, defensive back and in the special teams -- the areas you need quality in to win. That said, Seattle does have a couple big question marks at the moment.

The 'Hawks lost Russell Okung in free agency, so they have a hole to fill on the offensive line. But the team has a veteran O-line coach on staff, Tom Cable, who can fix that. Another big question mark is if Thomas Rawls can replace Marshawn Lynch full time at running back. Although the Jaguars have a young team, they are very well-rounded heading into the 2016 campaign. Bringing in Chris Ivory was a very smart move for this team. With Ivory and T.J. Yeldon splitting carries in the backfield, a productive ground game should take some of the pressure off Blake Bortles, which will hopefully cut down on turnovers. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are the brightest receiving duo in the league and give Bortles a lot of options in the passing game.

Defensively, the Jaguars are headed in the right direction after signing Malik Jackson and Prince Amukamara. They are getting back to the recipe that worked on both sides of the ball in the mid-2000s. This team is about to get a lot better. Even with losing several big-name players ( namely receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, among others) in free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals are still very well-balanced. The offense has all the tools -- with the trio of Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill and A.J. Green -- to score a lot of points behind a good offensive line.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals have a good core in place. The addition of Karlos Dansby will help, and I think they will draft some players who will make immediate impacts. Cincy will once again be a tough team to face in 2016.

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