Miami Dolphins: After a 2013 season chock full of drama, including a two-game collapse to miss the playoffs, the Dolphins plummet to the bottom of the division. Miami takes a step back while breaking in several rookie offensive lineman, a painful experience - especially for quarterback Ryan Tannehill - that doesn't pay dividends until 2015.
New England Patriots: The Patriots will have an aggressive offseason in pursuit of another Super Bowl title before the window closes on the Belichick/Brady era in New England. Though the team is usually conservative in free agency and even the draft, don't be surprised to see Belichick go after elite playmakers on both sides of the ball in an effort to surround Brady with a more talented roster.
New York Jets: Owner Woody Johnson did the unexpected by not firing Rex Ryan -- but doesn't extend him either as he chooses to let Ryan coach out the final year of his deal. General manager John Idzik is either unable or unwilling to upgrade the talent, though, so Ryan's time finally runs out, even though the Jets once again overachieve despite missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Houston Texans: Under the direction of first-year coach Bill O'Brien and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Texans lead the NFL in defense and rebound to win the AFC South with a 13-3 record, riding a dynamic pass rush from J.J. Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney -- acquired in a lopsided draft-day trade out of the No. 1 spot -- to erase the gap on the Indianapolis Colts.
Indianapolis Colts: Better health coverage across the board. The Colts were hit hard by injuries to key offensive personnel in 2013, most notably wide receiver Reggie Wayne, tight end Dwayne Allen and guard Donald Thomas along with running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw. The return of Wayne and Allen, in particular, to the offensive mix should give quarterback Andrew Luck more of a comfort level as the Colts make a true run at the AFC title.
Jacksonville Jaguars: EverBank Field will have a new look when it gets a $63 million upgrade, including the world's biggest video boards and some kind of water feature, maybe a waterfall, to highlight the fact that the Atlantic ocean and St. Johns river are part of Jacksonville's identify. On the field, the Jaguars will continue the rebuilding project with a new quarterback and pass rusher and aim for a .500 mark in 2014 to set the stage for a playoff run in 2015.
Tennessee Titans: General manager Ruston Webster and Tennessee's fresh ownership turn the page, letting go of coach Mike Munchak after heavy deliberation, and their patience pays off with the February hire of 35-year-old Denver Broncos offensive coordinator wunderkind Adam Gase, who lights it up with a multiple-receiver offense directed by fellow Michigan State product Kirk Cousins and the defense, coached by father-in-law Joe Vitt, makes major strides to get the Titans into the playoff picture.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens won't struggle in 2014, winning on a consistent basis after overhauling the offensive line and getting a more creative playbook for quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens also draft a wide receiver to complement Torrey Smith. The team parts ways with fullback Vonta Leach, defensive end Chris Canty and inside linebacker Jameel McClain, while re-signing offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and tight end Dennis Pitta.
Cincinnati Bengals: A postseason win to end a 22-year drought, which would allow Marvin Lewis to not be nicknamed the Susan Lucci of NFL head coaches. Lewis still has the league record for most games coached with one team and no postseason victories, but at least one win should take some of the heat off him and quarterback Andy Dalton as the franchise continues to make steady progress.
Cleveland Browns: Josh McDaniels replaces one-and-done Rob Chudzinski and sells the front office on Johnny Manziel with the No. 4 overall pick. Johnny Football quickly finds out how fast NFL linebackers, and one of his trademark backfield 360s winds up in the grill of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and results in a season-ending September back injury.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Long the strength of the team, the Steelers defense will continue to release iconic veterans and continue in decline. In the meantime, their offense will rise to become one of the best and most balanced in the league. More 38-31 scores are in the offing for 2014 in Pittsburgh.
Denver Broncos: A trip to their first Super Bowl in spite of injuries to Ryan Clady and Von Miller, an offseason of difficult salary-cap choices and then ... their fourth consecutive division title. With starters Eric Decker, Zane Beadles, Knowshon Moreno and Zane Beadles set for free agency, the Broncos will take a hit, but as long as Peyton Manning remains healthy and under center, they will remain elite.
Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid did a phenomenal job turning around the long-moribund franchise in just one season. But in the NFL, if you're not improving you're falling behind. Alex Smith is serviceable, but he's not leading the Chiefs to the Super Bowl without significant upgrades at wide receiver. The Chiefs take a stab at one of the top juniors set to make the jump to the NFL, but wide receiver is one of the most difficult positions to project to the NFL. The Chiefs whiff, and find themselves third in the AFC West scrambling to reach .500.
Oakland Raiders: If Al Davis were running the show, you could bet the house on the Raiders pulling out all the stops to land Johnny Manziel. But this team has holes almost across the board and general manager Reggie McKenzie plays the prudent role - actually dealing back to land Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and a few mid-round picks to slowly restock the roster.
San Diego Chargers: Head coach Mike McCoy's team bows out in the first round of the playoffs, but the momentum from a four-game winning streak to reach the postseason is hardly stunted. With quarterback Philip Rivers revitalized and injured wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander returning to join Keenan Allen, the Chargers invest the No. 22 overall pick in Oregon play-making cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to help win double-digit games ... and still fall far short of Denver.