New England Patriots (12-4): This team won 12 games without Tom Brady behind center. Even if Brady doesn’t return to his pre-injury form, he’s still one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league.
New York Jets (8-8): The defense could be something special, but the suspensions of Shaun Ellis (1 game) and Calvin Pace (4 games) hurt. The offense will be run-heavy with Leon Washington, Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene allowing rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to acclimate to the NFL game.
Miami Dolphins (8-8): There will be no Comeback Player of the Year award for Chad Pennington this time around, and the offense will feature more “Wildcat” formations and try to capitalize on 2009 draftee Pat White’s special skill set.
Buffalo Bills (6-10): The headlines in Buffalo (and sometimes Toronto) will probably focus around T.O. and the circus he brings with him and for good reason. The Bills won’t be all that special unless they can get by without starting RB Marshawn Lynch for the first four weeks (suspension) and if the offensive line steps up to protect the QB and open running lanes.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Joseph Addai looked like he lost a step last year, and the Colts drafted UConn back Donald Brown to help out in the backfield. They’ll look for Anthony Gonzalez to somewhat replace the production of Marvin Harrison, although his hands have looked poor in practice and preseason work.
Houston Texans (10-6): If Matt Schaub plays all 16 games and the offensive line keeps him upright, this offense could be very special and carry the Texans into their first postseason appearance. Andre Johnson is already an elite receiver in this league and Schaub is on his way to becoming an elite quarterback.
Tennessee Titans (9-7): Losing Albert Haynesworth up front is no doubt a large blow to a solid defense, but adding WR Kenny Britt and TE Jared Cook give Kerry Collins yet two more possible targets as they look to solidify their receiving corps on offense.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): With Fred Taylor gone, Maurice Jones-Drew (MJD) will become the central part of Jacksonville’s offense. The Jags finished off 2008 on a low note and it looks like 2009 will be another tough season as they look to rediscover their team identity.
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): The Steelers are the defending champions, but remember that only one of the past ten Super Bowl winners have repeated and that team may have been doing illegal things. But with a shut-down defense and MVP-caliber quarterback, the Steelers look to have a pretty good chance to return to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7): They won last year based mainly off how dominant their defense played, and they lost Rex Ryan, the mastermind coordinator and quite a few key pieces from that defense. The defense will still be a strength, but the offense may have to take a few steps forward to return to the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): The defense is slowly (slowly) improving, but it’s still extremely porous. A healthy Carson Palmer will be able to outgun the other offense once in a while leading the Bengals back around another .500 season.
Cleveland Brown (1-15): Brady Quinn should probably win the quarterback competition, but neither he or Derek Anderson is all that attractive of an option. Eric Mangini has a tough road ahead of him in his first year as the Browns’ coach.
San Diego Chargers (10-6): Always one of the most talented teams in the league, San Diego is usually also one of the more disappointing teams as well.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-7): Things are looking up for the Chiefs, but they have to hope that Matt Cassell’s injury isn’t too severe. They underwent a serious makeover in the offseason, but hopefully it’s a good one.
Denver Broncos (5-11): Firing Mike Shanahan probably wasn’t the smartest decision the franchise has made, although it probably wasn’t as bad as getting rid of Jay Cutler.
Oakland Raiders (4-12): Butchering the draft again this year was only the beginning for Al Davis. The on-field product isn’t going to be much better, seeing as they still don’t have any reliable quarterback options.