1. New England Patriots
With one of the most threatening passers in the league in Tom Brady returning and the addition of veteran running back Fred Taylor and receiver Joey Galloway the team will have a solid offensive backbone to go along with their refurbished defense.
2. Miami Dolphins
It is hard for the Dolphins to follow up such a successful turnaround season like ‘08, but Parcells and Sparano have added many pieces to the puzzle to make another push for the playoffs.
However, the pieces are not as complete as the Patriots formulated offense.
3. New York Jets
With Rex Ryan now at the helm to guide new Jets acquisitions Bart Scott, Lito Sheppard, and a solid returning defensive group the J-E-T-S “JETS” can make some noise. That is if their quarterback situation is solidified before the start of the season.
4. Buffalo Bills
Although T.O. is bringing a unique flavor of hot sauce for the wings in Buffalo, there isn’t enough to apply to the team to assist the young defense and second year starting quarterback Trent Edwards.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers will be dominant once again following their Super Bowl victory as they have one of the easiest schedules in the league and return one of the best defenses and receiving corps. Also with Rashad Mendenhall coming back from injury the Steelers can run to the AFC North title.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Although the Ravens showed a great sign in the 2008 season Joe Flacco now is missing his leading receiver, Derek Mason, because of rumors of “retirement.” Flacco may have the support of a vicious defense, but a weak offense and the Pittsburgh Steelers are well-built a road block.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Carson Palmer returning to action from his 2008 injury plagued season is a positive sign, so is new speedy receiver Laveranues Coles, but the lack of defensive support could cause for an unsuccessful season for the Bengals.
4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns have many areas of concern beginning with a quarterback controversy; should it be the former All-Pro gun slinger Derek Andersen or the fan favorite “Golden Boy” Brady Quinn.
Although quarterback is a major concern the lack of a strong defense will cause high scoring games for the opposition.
1. Tennessee Titans
Kerry Collins will once again lead a balanced two-headed running game to the post season, but the loss of such a dominant defensive tackle in Albert Haynesworth will cause running lanes to open up in the defense. Fisher will have to devise great clock control game plans to be overly successful.
2. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts will continue their double digit win season streak as Peyton Manning’s knowledge of the game will assist in making audibles to the rejuvenated back field of Joseph Adi, Michael Hart, and Donald Brown.
3. Houston Texans
The Texans have finished at .500 for the past two straight seasons. This year’s determinant rests on the arm of Matt Schwab and the legs of Steve Slaton as the Texans have the skills and talent to compete within the conference.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Major upgrades to the offensive line have occurred through the draft and free agency, however the lack of a potent receiving corps will cause for a long season for the Jags.
1. San Diego Chargers
L.T. and Rivers will lead the rest of the Chargers talent to another AFC West title, not to mention the return of a healthy “Lights Out” Shawn Merriman will give more pressure off the edge pressure to disrupt the quarterback.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Scott Pioli was able to bring a gift wrapped package of Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs. They will give the Chiefs less stress concerning need areas, however the defense and receiving corps is still a growing concern.
3. Oakland Raiders
Although the Raiders have been one of the laughing stocks of the NFL for the past few seasons, they will show signs of improvement as JaMarcus Russell and a strong rushing attack will assist them in overcoming some adversity.
4. Denver Broncos
The loss of Jay Cutler and the rants of trade from Brandon Marshall will cause for less offensive production. Kyle Orton may be a mid level quarterback, but his talent will not lead be able to lead a team with an inefficient defense.