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The Dolphins should at least be fighting for a playoff spot with the team they’ve put together. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill should continue to develop, especially now that he has a legitimate deep threat in Mike Wallace.
The front seven on defense should also improve thanks to the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, Dion Jordan. But in order to get a first-round bye, Miami has to win its division. Can they unseat the New England Patriots atop the AFC East?
The Panthers also strengthened their front seven, drafting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to play with guys like Charles Johnson and Luke Kuechly. The offense needs more pass-catchers than the aging Steve Smith and tight end Greg Olsen, and the backfield needs one of either Jonathan Stewart or DeAngelo Williams to finally step up and take over.
However, in both circumstances, Cam Newton can bail out his teammates. It might be a huge burden, but he could prove to be up to the task of carrying this team to greatness.
Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, this team just had the worst record in the NFL last season. But many of the pieces from the 2010 division champion team are still there, including Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe on offense and Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry on defense. The Chiefs also have one of the league’s weaker schedules.
The team’s most important addition is quarterback Alex Smith. Smith was just beginning to justify the San Francisco 49ers’ decision to hold onto him for the last nine years until an injury and Colin Kaepernick forced him out. While not elite, he is certainly an upgrade over Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn.
With a new coach and general manager as well, the Chiefs could be heading in a totally new direction in 2013.