AFC team-by-team previews

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:31 AM ET

EAST DIVISION

1. New York Jets

2010: 11-5, Wild Card

Major Additions: WR Plaxico Burress, NT Kenrick Ellis, WR Derrick Mason, CB Donald Strickland.

Major Deletions: CB Drew Coleman, WR Braylon Edwards, DE Shaun Ellis, NT Kris Jenkins, LB Jason Taylor, WR Brad Smith.

Just Stuff: Having been the AFC runner-up the past two seasons, the Jets hope that third time is a charm ... QB Mark Sanchez still has his fair share of critics but this season he will have the most weapons he has had at his disposal ... Defensively, the Jets had the third rated defence overall and nothing has changed in that regard ... In WR Plaxico Burress, the Jets believe they have the big-game receiver they lacked, a go-to target for Sanchez inside the Red Zone ... The Jets have turned the volume down a notch and that can only help them ... RB Shonn Greene has to show he can take it to the next level as he takes over top spot from LaDainian Tomlinson.

Big Question: Will Rex Ryan put his foot in his mouth and if so will he enjoy it?

2. New England Patriots

2010: 14-2, Division title

Major Additions: WR Chad Ochocinco, DL Albert Haynesworth, DL Shaun Ellis, RB Shane Vereen (rookie), RB Stevan Ridley (rookie), QB Ryan Mallett.

Major Deletions: DE Ty Warren, OL Nick Kaczur.

Just Stuff: The Patriots looked to be the best team on the planet after they crushed the Jets 45-3 on Dec. 6 and followed with victories over Chicago and Green Bay ... Then they were knocked out in the first round by the Jets, go figure ... All of New England’s major pieces are back and that starts with QB Tom Brady, who is simply the best in the biz these days ... Just to spice things up, head coach Bill Belichick went out and acquired super ego Chad Ochocinco from Cincinnati and bad boy Albert Haynesworth, formerly of the Redskins.

Big Question: Can the Patriots shed the post-season blues as they’ve gone three years without a playoff victory.

3. Miami Dolphins

2010: 7-9

Major Additions: RB Reggie Bush, QB Matt Moore, C Mike Pouncey (rookie), NT Ronald Fields, LB Jason Trusnik.

Major Deletions: LB Channing Crowder, QB Chad Pennington, RB Ricky Williams, RB Ronnie Brown, QB Tyler Thigpen.

Just Stuff: The fans were really getting on QB Chad Henne during the early practices after rumours of a Kyle Orton trade fell apart ... This team appears to be flat-lining and is in need of an overhaul, especially at quarterback as Henne doesn’t appear to be the answer ... The Dolphins and Henne have to get over their aversion to throwing deep ... With Ricky Williams gone, the Dolphins are hoping that former Saint Reggie Bush can carry the load. Prediction: He won’t and he’ll be a bust ... Coach Tony Sparano is on the hot seat and may not last the season ... Good defence, though.

Big Question: Will the Dolphins go in the tank and be in the running for QB Andrew Luck?

4. Buffalo Bills

2010: 4-12

Major Additions: WR Brad Smith, QB Tyler Thigpen, DE Marcell Dareus (rookie).

Major Deletions: WR Lee Evans, LB Paul Posluszny, SS Donte Whitner, DE Marcus Stroud.

Just stuff: To much surprise the Bills didn’t bite on the numerous quarterbacks available in the draft ... It has been 11 years since their last playoff appearance and they have no hope this season either ... The Bills were terrible against the run and hope that addition of rookie Marcell Dareus will help shore that up ... Ryan Fitzpatrick is nobody’s idea of a top-flight quarterback but seems to get the most out of his ability ... WR Steve Johnson is now the go-to-guy after the Bills peddled Lee Evans ... RB Fred Jackson should lug the ball but the Bills are committed to last year’s No. 1 pick, C;J. Spiller ... Lucky Toronto, it gets another dog game with the Redskins vs. the Bills Oct. 30.

Big Question: Is a five-win season cause for celebration?

NORTH DIVISION

1. Baltimore Ravens

2010: 12-4, Wild card

Major Additions: OT Bryant McKinnie, WR Lee Evans, WR Torrey Smith (rookie), RB Ricky Williams.

Major Deletions: WR Derrick Mason, TE Todd Heath, RB Willis McGahee, WR Donte Stallworth, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Just Stuff: Entering his fourth season, QB Joe Flacco needs to prove he can take the team to the next level and win the big ones ... If Flacco gets hurt the Ravens turn to rookie Tyrod Taylor ... Addition of Ricky Williams gives them tough, short-yardage runner ... Ravens overhauled their wide receivers and believe Lee Evans can create space for Anquan Boldin ... LB Ray Lewis starting 16th season, hard to believe ... New defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will bring back the blitz, wants to “create havoc” ... Defence needs more sacks and improved play from secondary.

Big Question: Can the Ravens finally overtake the Steelers?

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

2010: 12-4, Division Title, AFC Title

Major Additions: TE John Gilmore, WR Jerricho Cotchery, CB Curtis Brown (rookie).

Major Deletions: WR Antwaan Randle El, OT Max Starks.

Just stuff: The Steelers are bringing back pretty much the same team that went to the Super Bowl and lost ... Last year QB Ben Roethlisberger missed the opening four games as punishment for sordid off-season behavior. This year he got married ... Big Ben’s backup, Byron Leftwich suffered a broken arm in pre-season and is out for the year. Charlie Batch, come on down ... Biggest concern on Steelers is age, especially on the defensive side of the ball ... Steelers were tops at stopping the run but secondary was vulnerable ... S Troy Polamalu needs to prove speed is back and Achilles injury a thing of the past ... Need RB Rashard Mendenhall to stay healthy. He carries a big load.

Big Question: Can the Steelers D — they have nine starters 30 or older — avoid key injuries?

3. Cleveland Browns

2010: 5-11

Major Additions: Head coach Pat Shurmur, WR Greg Little (rookie), CB Dimitri Patterson, DT Phil Taylor (rookie), DE Jabaal Sheard (rookie).

Major Deletions: QB Jake Delhomme, CB Eric Wright, LB David Bowens, DT Shaun Rogers.

Just stuff: New head coach and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur takes over for the unpopular Eric Mangini and will implement a west coast offence that would seem to be the perfect scheme for second-year QB Colt McCoy ... In McCoy the Browns have their franchise QB and team is on the way up, though it may be a slow process ... Shurmur is the Browns fifth head coach since 1999 ... Browns have missed the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons ... Browns need running help to keep Payton Hillis fresh as he tailed off considerable over final three games due to workload ... Rookie Greg Little, a risky pick, needs to step in to help receiving corps ... Top two draft picks were defensive lineman as Browns need to improve pass rush.

Big Question: How much will Colt McCoy thrive in coach Shurmur’s west coast offence?

4. Cincinnati Bengals

2010: 4-12

Major Additions: QB Andy Dalton (rookie), QB Bruce Gradkowski, OL Max Jean-Gilles, DB Nate Clements, WR A.J. Green (rookie)

Major Deletions: QB Carson Palmer, WR Chad Ochocinco, WR Terrell Owens.

Just Stuff: Veteran RB Cedric Benson was in the slammer serving a jail term for a few days in Texas to settle two misdemeanor assault cases. Some things in Cincinnati never change ... It’s been quite an off-season for the Bengals as Carson Palmer retired rather than play another day for the Bungles while high profile receivers Owens and Ochocinco are gone as well ... Rookie QB Andy Dalton, a second-round pick from Texas Christian has inherited Palmer’s reins ... With the top receivers gone, the Bengals expect big things from Georgia receiver A.J. Green, a first-round pick ... Should be one of the worst teams in the league.

Big Question: Are the Bengals prepared to throw Andy Dalton to the wolves?

SOUTH DIVISION

1. Houston Texans

2010: 6-10

Major Additions: CB Johnathan Joseph, S Danieal Manning, DE J.J. Watt (rookie), CB Brandon Harris (rookie)

Major Deletions: FB Vonta Leach, S Bernard Pollard, DT Amobi Okoye (to Bears), S Eugene Wilson.

Just Stuff: Wade Phillips takes over as defensive coordinator and that can only be a plus. Phillips may be a bust as a head coach but he knows defence ... One of his first moves was to move their best pass rusher, DF Mario Williams and place him at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The hope is Williams can be freed up and turn into a sack machine like DeMarcus Ware in Dallas ... Last year’s secondary was a joke but under Phillips it has been overhauled ... If Houston can’t catch the Colts this season, then when?

The Big Question: Can the Texans survive without Arian Foster?

2. Indianapolis Colts

2010: 10-6 (Division title)

Major Additions: DT Tommie Harris, DE Jamaal Anderson, LB Ernie Sims, OT Anthony Castanzo (rookie),

Major Deletions: CB Kelvin Hayden, S Bob Sanders, OT Charlie Johnson, DT Dan Muir.

Just Stuff: The Colts will go only as far as Peyton Manning takes them and he has to prove that his neck will not be a problem. We probably won’t know until kickoff Sunday whether he is able to start the season ... The Colts survived a host of injuries last season particularly to their receiving corps, all of whom are back and healthy ... The Colts can’t run but so what ... The O-line has one responsibility — to keep Manning upright. The Colts run of nine consecutive playoff appearances could be over.

The Big Question: Will Peyton Manning be ready?

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

2010: 8-8

Major Additions: LB Clint Session, LB Paul Posluszny, CB Drew Coleman, S Dawan Landry, G Jason Spitz, QB Blaine Gabbert.

Major Deletions: WR Mike Sims-Walker, LB Justin Durant .

Just Stuff: The Jaguars have won just one playoff game since 1999, haven’t made the post-season the past three seasons and are antsy ... Early in camp it seemed to be a toss-up over who would start, the rookie Blaine Gabbert or veteran David Garrard. Well, Garrard lost that battle and was released on Tuesday ... Is Maurice Jones-Drew the same running back he was before knee surgery? ... The defence last year was ranked No. 28 overall and needs the new additions to step up and solidify last year’s shortcomings.

The Big Question: Can Gabbert muster enough of a passing game to take the pressure off MJD??

4. Tennessee Titans

2010: 6-10

Major Additions: Head coach Mike Munchak, QB Matt Hasselbeck, QB Jake Locker (rookie), DT Shaun Smith, S Jordan Babineaux, CB Frank Walker.

Major Deletions: Head coach Jeff Fisher, QB Vince Young, LB Stephen Tulloch (to Detroit), DE Jason Babin, WR Randy Moss, QB Kerry Collins, TE Bo Scaife.

Just Stuff: The hope is the circus has left town ... How strange will it be not to see Jeff Fisher on the sidelines? ... WR Kenny Britt needs to mature and not be an off-the-field train wreck waiting to happen ... RB Chris Johnson got his new contract, now he must show he’s worth it ... So, Matt Hasselbeck is the man. We’ll see how long that works out ... The defence needs to tighten up their pass defence which ranked 29th.

The Big Question: Can a happy Chris Johnson rush for 2,000 yards?

WEST DIVISION

1. San Diego Chargers

2010: 9-7

Major Additions: LB Takeo Spikes, S Bob Sanders, WR Vincent Brown (rookie), DE Corey Liuget (rookie), LB Kevin Bentley.

Major Deletions: LB Kevin Burnett, OLB Antwan Applewhite, RB Darren Sproles, DE Travis Johnson, CB Donald Strickland.

Just Stuff: Coach Rick Bisaccia was hired as their new special teams coach in an effort to turn around the mess that proved to be so costly last year ... Speedy WR Vincent Jackson missed 10 games last year in a contract dispute while TE Antonio Gates was limited to 10 games with a foot injury. The return of both players for a full season will be huge ... The Chargers have an easy early schedule — home games against Minnesota, Kansas City and Miami and road games at New England (tough) and Denver so for once they shouldn’t crawl out of the gate.

The Big Question: Are they better on special teams?

2. Kansas City Chiefs

2010: 10-6

Major Additions: WR Steve Breaston, WR Jonathan Baldwin (rookie), NT Kelly Gregg, FB Le’Ron McClain, LB Brandon Siler.

Major Deletions: OLB Mike Vrabel, G Brian Waters, NT Ron Edwards, DB Maurice Leggett.

Just Stuff: The Chiefs caught a lot of teams by surprise last year. It won’t happen again ... The need a big year from Kelly Gregg at nose tackle to make the 3-4 work ... Nobody runs the ball better than their combo of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones ... QB Matt Cassel needs more than WR Dwayne Bowe on the outside ... Need to tighten up their run defence.

The Big Question: Was last season a fluke?

3. Denver Broncos

2010: 4-12

Major Additions: Head coach John Fox, RB Willis McGahee, DT Ty Warren, DT Brodrick Bunkley , DE Derrick Harvey, TE Dante Rosario, DE Jeremy Jarmon, LB Von Miller (rookie), S Rahim Moore (rookie).

Major Deletions: DT Justin Bannan, WR Jabar Gaffney, TE Daniel Graham, S Renaldo Hill, NT Jamal Williams, OT Ryan Harris, NT Ronald Fields (to Dolphins).

Just Stuff: The Broncos opened a Pandora’s box over the off-season when news of their attempting to trade QB Kyle Orton became public. They couldn’t and here he is, back as their starting QB, an awkward situation ... The Broncos had the second pick in the draft and went with rush linebacker Von Miller, a player they hope will be like the Packers Clay Matthews ... When in Carolina, Fox inherited a 1-15 team and three years later was in the Super Bowl.

The Big Question: Can they ever escape the Tim Tebow distraction?

4. Oakland Raiders

2010: 8-8

Major Additions: Head coach Hue Jackson, TE Kevin Boss, OT Stephon Heyer, C Stefen Wisniewski (rookie), CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (rookie).

Major Deletions: Coach Tom Cable, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, TE Zach Miller , OG Robert Gallery, QB Bruce Gradkowski.

Just Stuff: No team suffered a bigger defection than when CB Nnamdi Asomugha signed with the Eagles. He can’t be replaced ... Once again, the Raiders have a new head coach, this time Hue Jackson, last year’s offensive coordinator ... Last year they went 6-0 in their division. That will be tough to repeat ... QB Jason Campbell has to show more consistency ... The Raiders need to get a lot more production out of their wide receivers as last year they combined for 107 catches and six touchdowns.

The Big Question: Can Jason Campbell do the job?


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