Rodgers will lead Packers to Super Bowl glory
The long NFL off-season is finally over and, while the past seven months have not lacked in terms of headlines and intrigue, I cannot wait for the real action to begin on the pitch.
It has been an off-season full of high-profile moves. Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall was traded from the Denver Broncos to the Miami Dolphins, star quarterback Donovan McNabb joined the Washington Redskins after 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, and a whole host of veteran stars inked deals with an ambitious New York Jets club gearing up for a Super Bowl run.
But, as has been the case for the previous three years, one man dominated the off-season news and all eyes were on future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre for much of the summer.
Given that Favre got severely beaten up in the NFC Championship Game at the end of January, underwent tricky ankle surgery in May and will turn 41 in October, Vikings fans could have been forgiven for thinking the man who threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2009 was not coming back.
Aaron Rodgers has finally stepped out of Brett Favre's shadow in Green Bay
Although Favre demands considerable attention, I don't consider him to be the best quarterback in the NFC North division. I would give that honour to the rising star who replaced Favre in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers.
I feel the 2010 season will see Rodgers put himself in the same class as the likes of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees - and I think the result will be a Super Bowl victory for the Green Bay Packers in February.
Rodgers, still only 26, has the arm strength to make every throw in the playbook, he takes care of the football and he rarely gets rattled under pressure.
The one knock on him during the first half of the 2009 campaign was that he held on to the ball for too long and took too many sacks. He wiped that problem from his game over the second half of last season and will receive a further confidence boost from the fact he will be playing behind a much-improved offensive line in 2010.
But it is in the skill positions that the Packers are most spoiled. In addition to Rodgers, they have outstanding receivers in Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, and a playmaking, athletic tight end in Jermichael Finley. Add in Ryan Grant, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 2009 and you can see why the Packers will easily put points on the board.
Defensively, the Packers ranked second in the NFL last term and return playmakers across the board in the form of cornerback Charles Woodson and linebackers Nick Barnett and Clay Matthews.
But with quarterback being such a pivotal position in the NFL, Rodgers is the key man and he looks extremely capable of guiding the Packers on a special run to the Super Bowl.
Rodgers' career passer rating of 97.2 ranks as the highest in NFL history, ahead of Hall of Fame greats such as Steve Young, Joe Montana and Dan Marino.
He now needs a Super Bowl crown to truly win the love and admiration of Packers fans who still think back fondly to the Favre era. And I think this could be the year he does just that, guiding the Packers to victory over the Indianapolis Colts or Baltimore Ravens in February.
As someone who has handled himself with class and dignity in the face of so many questions about Favre in recent years, Rodgers would fully deserve that kind of success.
Week one on BBC 5 live sports extra
We have a couple of mouth-watering contests to listen out for on BBC Radio this week, beginning in the early hours of Friday morning at 0030 BST with the NFC Championship Game re-match between the Vikings and the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
Greg Brady and Darren Fletcher will call the action live from the Superdome and I think Drew Brees and the Saints will have too much firepower for a Vikings side with question marks at receiver.
I'll take the Saints and their receivers every time, particularly with Brees firing the football around the field.
On Sunday from 2100 BST, Arlo White presents live coverage of the San Francisco 49ers' visit to the Seattle Seahawks. The hometown Seahawks are rebuilding under new head coach Pete Carroll but I think the 49ers will be too strong for them on this occasion.
Mike Singletary has introduced a feel-good vibe around the Wembley-bound 49ers and they are favourites to take the NFC West this season. Alex Smith has some offensive weapons around him and the defence remains as good as ever.
It should be a fascinating opening weekend and an action-packed, exciting 2010 campaign.
Enjoy the season!
You can catch Neil commentating on an NFL game every Sunday at 2100 BST on BBC 5 live sports extra throughout the season.(UK users only).