A glance at each team in the AFC:
Last year: Despite posting first winning record in a decade,
Important additions: Ryan; offensive coordinator Greg Roman; RB
Important losses: LBs Kiko Alonso and
Expectations: They're sky-high. Ryan's brash approach, combined with McCoy's acquisition to lead running attack and talent-laden, attacking defense that returns mostly intact puts Buffalo in position to improve. Playoff contender? It'll be clearer after opening month that features games against
Last year: Finished at or near .500 for third consecutive year under coach
Important additions: DTs
Important losses: WRs Mike Wallace,
Expectations: This is Dolphins' 50th season, and optimism is highest in four years under Philbin, whose job is on the line. Even if Dolphins start strong, they'll need to shake habit of late-season collapses to reach playoffs for first time since 2008.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Last year: Easily won
Important additions: CB
Important losses: CBs
Expectations: Even with Brady's suspension looming, Patriots should be able to claim another division title. Problem arises if his absence costs them a first-round bye; none of team's four Super Bowl titles has come after it played in wild-card round. But look for team to use cheating allegations as motivation; last time Patriots were punished for breaking rules, in 2007 after being caught videotaping opponents' signals, they went 16-0 in regular season, ultimately losing Super Bowl to Giants.
NEW YORK JETS
Last year: Coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik both fired after team missed playoffs for fourth straight year, the longest postseason drought under owner
Important additions: Coach Todd Bowles; GM Mike Maccagnan; offensive coordinator
Important losses: Ryan; offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg; defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman; WR Percy Harvin; RB
Expectations: Returns of Revis and Cromartie, and additions of Skrine and Gilchrist instantly improve defense that's expected to be one of league's best. There were questions at QB even before Smith suffered a broken jaw after being punched by then-teammate IK Enemkpali at training camp.
Last year: Despite distraction created by arrest and subsequent suspension of Ray Rice for domestic violence,
Important additions: FS
Important losses: DT Haloti Ngata; WRs
Expectations: Ravens intend to make playoffs again, and this time they'd like to do so as
Last year: Reached playoffs for club-record fourth year in row and became first NFL team to lose four straight opening-round games. The 26-10 loss at Indianapolis left
Important additions: DE
Important losses: CB
Expectations: Defense slipped last season, ranking last in sacks, but that should improve with Johnson back and tackle
Last year: Yet another circus as
Important additions: QB
Important losses: WRs Gordon and
Expectations: Browns were only AFC North team not to make postseason last year. Led by Pro Bowl cornerback
Last year: Bounced back from consecutive .500 seasons to win AFC North for first time since 2010 behind NFL's second-ranked offense. QB
Important additions: RB
Important losses: S
Expectations: With Roethlisberger locked in for basically remainder of career after signing new contract in March, and Brown and Bell in their primes,
Last year: In first season under coach
Important additions: NT Vince Wilfork; QB Brian Hoyer; S
Important losses: WR
Expectations: Defense will be strength of team with Watt, Wilfork and, hopefully, Clowney, but fate of
Last year: Continued steady progression with Andrew Luck leading way, winning second straight
Important additions: OLB
Important losses: S
Expectations: Indianapolis' steady ascension has spurred talk about a Super Bowl-or-bust season. A favorable schedule, with Patriots and Broncos both at home, and playing in division where no other quarterback has measured up to Luck, should lead to third straight division crown. But success or failure this season will be defined by two things: beating New England in playoffs and reaching their third Super Bowl since 2006.
Last year: Started 0-6 for second consecutive season under coach Gus Bradley, getting outscored 152-58 in first four games, and finished below .500 for sixth time in last seven years.
Important additions: TE
Important losses: WR Cecil Shorts III; DEs
Expectations: A little hope. Jaguars are 14-50 since 2010, and although Bradley and General Manager Dave Caldwell admit their three-year overhaul needed more work than initially expected, they also realize it's time to start providing better results.
Last year: Coach
Important additions: Mastermind Dick LeBeau now is in charge of defense.
Important losses: OTs
Expectations: Drafting Mariota has revived hope for franchise with only one winning season since last playoff berth in 2008. Oregon star is third QB team has drafted in first eight picks since 2006. How quickly Mariota develops will determine just how much better Titans are this season. Team that finished last in AFC South should be better in Whisenhunt's second season, has much room for improvement across board.
Last year: Broncos began last season as prohibitive Super Bowl favorite after loading up on defense with Pro Bowlers.
Important additions: Kubiak; TE Owen Daniels; FB
Important losses: LG
Expectations: Broncos again are loaded with talent, especially on defense, but big questions in trenches must be answered quickly for them to again challenge Tom Brady and New England for
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Last year: Despite rash of early injuries,
Important additions: WR
Important losses: TE Anthony Fasano; WRs Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery.
Expectations: Chiefs should be competitive again in tough
Important additions: Coach
Important losses: WR
Expectations: Del Rio is team's ninth coach since 2003 and has brought enthusiasm and proven staff headed by defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Raiders are playing on one-year lease in Oakland and have expressed interest in moving to Los Angeles.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Last year: Went from 5-1 to missing playoffs for fourth time in five seasons. Couldn't hang with elite of AFC, losing consecutive December home games to Patriots and Broncos. Needed only to win season finale at Kansas City, against backup quarterback
Important additions: CB
Important losses: C