AFC Preview: Team capsules

2012-09-09T00:00:00Z 2012-10-06T20:03:34Z AFC Preview: Team capsulesCOMPILED BY KATHLEEN NELSON stltoday.com
September 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 


Buffalo Bills

Last year's record • 6-10

Coach • Chan Gailey, fifth season as NFL head coach, third in Buffalo

Notable newcomers • Free-agent DE Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, rookie CB Stephon Gilmore, OL Cordy Glenn, defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt

Top weapons • WR Steve Johnson, RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, DE Mario Williams

Outlook • A defensive overhaul to a 4-3 under Wannstedt could take time. Jackson is aging, so it's time for Spiller to show his potential. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had a great first half last year, he'll need 16 good games for the Bills to contend in the AFC East.

Miami Dolphins

Last year's record • 6-10

Coach • Joe Philbin, first in NFL and Miami

Notable newcomers • Free-agent OT Artis Hicks, rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, OT Jonathan Martin

Top weapons • Tannehill, RB Reggie Bush, LB Cameron Wake

Outlook • So much upheaval. Tannehill is listed as the starting QB, with Matt Moore waiting in the wings. The Dolphins are switching to a 4-3, so the transition on defense will be no smoother than the one on offense. Patience will be the order of the day in South Beach.

New England Patriots

Last year's record • 13-3

Coach • Bill Belichick, 18th season in NFL, 13th in New England

Notable newcomers • Free-agent WR Brandon Lloyd, G Robert Gallery, rookie DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont'a Hightower

Top weapons • QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker, TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez

Outlook • The defense has to improve, after ranking next to last in total yards last year. Lloyd and coordinator Josh McDaniels are back in their comfort zone, let's see if the latter can do any better with the Pats than he did guiding the Rams' offense.

New York Jets

Last year's record • 8-8

Coach • Rex Ryan, fourth in the NFL and in New York

Notable newcomers • Free-agent QB Tim Tebow, S LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, rookie DE Quinton Coples

Top weapons • RB Shonn Greene, QBs Mark Sanchez and Tebow, LB Bart Scott, CB Darrelle Revis

Outlook • The Jets seem to drown in distraction and the negativity surrounding it, especially regarding WR Santonio Holmes and Tebow. The team's defensive personnel lends itself as much to a 4-3 as a 3-4, which means the unit could be more versatile than last year.


Baltimore Ravens

Last year's record • 12-4

Coach • John Harbaugh, fifth season in the NFL and Baltimore

Notable newcomers • Free-agent WR Jacoby Jones, G Bobby Williams, rookie LB Courtney Upshaw, OT Kelechi Osemele

Top weapons • QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, WR Torrey Smith, CB Lardarius Webb

Outlook • Flacco takes the heat for the Ravens' shortcomings on offense, but the biggest weakness is the line. Despite the development of Torrey Smith as a weapon for Flacco, Rice will be the workhorse again. The defense remains formidable despite LB Terrell Suggs being placed on the PUP list because of a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Cincinnati Bengals

Last year's record • 9-7

Coach • Marvin Lewis, 10th season in the NFL and Cincinnati

Notable newcomers • Free-agent CB Terrance Newman, rookie OG Kevin Zeitler

Top weapons • QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green, LB Rey Maualuga

Outlook • The Bengals have found it difficult to build on success, so fans will almost be expecting them to stumble this year. The offense has potential to improve in Dalton's second season with Green, but the defense lost some talent on the line and will have to stay healthy all year and play better against division rivals.

Cleveland Browns

Last year's record • 4-12

Coach • Pat Shurmur, second season in NFL and Cleveland

Notable newcomers • Free-agent DEs Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker, rookie RB Trent Richardson, QB Brandon Weedon

Top weapons • WR Greg Little, Richardson, LB D'Qwell Jackson, CB Joe Haden

Outlook • The offense was almost as bad as the Rams' last season, averaging less than 14 points a game. With a rookie QB and Richardson rehabbing from surgery in early August, the productivity probably won't improve much in the short term. The defense is poised to build on a solid year, though.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Last year's record • 12-4

Coach • Mike Tomlin, sixth year in NFL and in Pittsburgh

Notable newcomers • Free-agent TE Leonard Pope, OL Trai Essex, rookie OG David DeCastro, OT Mike Adams, OC Todd Haley

Top weapons • QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Mike Wallace

Outlook • Creeky. Mendenhall had a long road back from a knee injury but has made quick progress. They'll need him and Roethlisberger healthy and Wallace to whip into shape in a hurry following his holdout. The defense is aging, S Troy Polamalu, LB James Harrison and DT Casey Hampton have become injury-prone as well.


Houston Texans

Last year's record • 10-6

Coach • Gary Kubiak, seventh season in the NFL and Houston

Notable newcomers • Free-agent QB John Beck, RB Justin Forsett, LB Bradie James, P Donnie Jones, rookie DE Whitney Mercilus

Top weapons • WR Andre Johnson, RB Arian Foster, CB Jonathan Joseph, LB Brooks Reed

Outlook • The Texans' dominating defense was picked apart in free agency with the losses of Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans. A healthy QB Matt Schaub should help maximize the potential of Johnson and Foster.

Indianapolis Colts

Last year's record • 2-14

Coach • Chuck Pagano, first season in the NFL and Indianapolis

Notable newcomers • Free-agent WR Donnie Avery, OT Winston Justice, DL Cory Redding, rookie QB Andrew Luck, TE Coby Fleener

Top weapons • WRs Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie, Luck, DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis

Outlook • Talk about building from the ground up. So many pieces of the Colts' offensive machine were given their walking papers — Peyton Manning, Pierre Garcon, Joseph Addai — that this season could redefine rebuilding. Making matters worse, the defensive scheme is being changed, too, with Freeney expected to be used more as a linebacker.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Last year's record • 5-11

Coach • Mike Mularkey, third season in NFL, first in Jacksonville

Notable newcomers • Free-agent WR Laurent Robinson, QB Chad Henne, CB Aaron Ross, rookie WR Justin Blackmon, DE Andre Branch

Top weapons • RB Maurice Jones-Drew, DE Jeremy Mincey

Outlook • The offense has been too predictable with its reliance on Jones-Drew, but his extended holdout calls into question his usefulness early in the season. QB Blaine Gabbert has more weapons in Robinson, Blackmon and underutilized TE Marcedes Lewis, so he'll be afforded a lot fewer excuses. The defense improved vastly last season and will need to find just a little bit more to keep the team competitive until the offense starts to click.

Tennessee Titans

Last year's record • 9-7

Coach • Mike Munchak, second year in the NFL and Tennessee

Notable newcomers • Free-agent G Steve Hutchinson, DE Kamerion Wimbley, DT Leger Douzable, rookie WR Kendall Wright

Top weapons • RB Chris Johnson, QB Jake Locker, LB Colin McCarthy

Outlook • The Titans defense lost stalwarts in the secondary and will have to rely on the front seven. The move to Locker from Matt Hasselbeck looks like it will stick, so expect growing pains on offense. They'll need Johnson to get off to a fast start and return to the form that made him CJ2K.


Denver Broncos

Last year's record • 8-8

Coach • John Fox, 11th season in NFL, second in Denver

Notable newcomers • Free-agent QB Peyton Manning, S Mike Adams, WRs Andre Caldwell and Brandon Stokley, CB Tracy Porter, rookie DT Derek Wolfe

Top weapons • Manning, RB Willis McGahee, DE Elvis Dumervil, LB Von Miller

Outlook • Though Fox is known to prefer a stout running game, the offense will belong to Peyton Manning. Tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen have been underrated, but Manning will put them to immediate use. The defense hemorrhaged late last season, and Fox brought in old pal Jack Del Rio to see if he can stop the bleeding.

Kansas City Chiefs

Last year's record • 7-9

Coach • Romeo Crennel, fifth season in the NFL, first in Kansas City

Notable newcomers • Free-agent RB Peyton Hillis, QB Brady Quinn, CB Stanford Routt, rookie DT Dontari Poe, OT Jeff Allen

Top weapons • RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dexter McCluster, LB Tamba Hali, CB Brandon Flowers

Outlook • The Chiefs' offense seems to be run-heavy with a healed Charles, Hillis and McCluster, who spends time in the backfield. QB Matt Cassel has the arm to make use of McCluster in the passing game to complement Dwayne Bowe. Hali, slapped with a one-game drug suspension, will need help from fellow LB Justin Houston in applying pressure on the edges.

Oakland Raiders

Last year's record • 8-8

Coach • Dennis Allen, first season in the NFL, first in Oakland

Notable newcomers • Free-agent QB Matt Leinart, G Mike Brisiel, CBs Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, rookie OL Tony Bergstrom

Top weapons • QB Carson Palmer, RB Darren McFadden, DEs Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly

Outlook • Though he's returning from a foot injury, McFadden should have a good year behind the Raiders' impressive O-line and under the tutelage of coordinator Gregg Knapp. The defensive pressure will be generated by the Raiders' formidable front line.

San Diego Chargers

Last year's record • 8-8

Coach • Norv Turner, 15th season in the NFL, sixth in San Diego

Notable newcomers • Free-agent WRs Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, LB Jarrett Johnson, rookie LB Melvin Ingram, DT Kendall Reyes, S Brandon Taylor

Top weapons • QB Philip Rivers, RB Ryan Mathews, TE Antonio Gates, S Eric Weddle

Outlook • For the 900th straight year, Norv Turner's job is on the line. Despite losing Vincent Jackson, Rivers should have more weapons with Meachem and Royal, though getting Mathews back from a shoulder injury is key. The defense still lacks an impact player to count on but has a bit more depth in relatively unknown players.


Copyright 2015 stltoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

It's been worth the wait for Bengals tight end Eifert

It's been worth the wait for Bengals tight end Eifert

Following a solid rookie season with the Cincinnati Bengals, tight end Tyler Eifert was primed for a breakout campaign in 2014.

7 hours ago Related Loading…
Ram notes: DE Longacre making the most of opportunities

Ram notes: DE Longacre making the most of opportunities

Undrafted rookie free agent from Northwest Missouri State has been highly productive in his first two NFL games.

November 26, 2015 12:50 am Related Loading…
After lengthy surgery, Bailey now in ICU

After lengthy surgery, Bailey now in ICU

(Updated) Rams player and the other man in the car who was wounded in the Miami-area shooting underwent surgery today for their injuries.

November 25, 2015 3:15 pm Photos


Related Loading…

Get weekly ads via e-mail