2014 DVOA rank: 22nd
Key additions: Mike Iupati (OL), DJ Humphries (OL)
Key subtractions: Antonio Cromartie (CB), Darnell Dockett (DT)
One thing to know: While they had a great record last year, the advanced stats said the Cardinals weren’t as good as 11-5 indicates. Will they hit the ground running? Coach Bruce Arians likes to attack through the air, but the Cards — NFC’s worst running team in 2014 — need better balance. Bolstered O-line, healthy Andre Ellington and rookie David Johnson offer hope.
2014 DVOA rank: 20th
Key additions: Adrian Clayborn (DE), O’Brien Schofield (LB), Vic Beasley (rookie, LB)
Key subtractions: Osi Umenyiora (DE)
One thing to know: They had the worst defensive DVOA in the league last year. Any improvement could make them interesting. Will Matt Ryan get any help? He and WR Julio Jones weren’t responsible for last year’s struggles. But if the Falcons don’t run the ball better and begin stopping anyone defensively, another ugly autumn awaits.
2014 DVOA rank: 9th
Key additions: LeSean McCoy (RB), Matt Cassel (QB)
Key subtractions: Kiko Alonso (LB), CJ Spiller (OL)
One thing to know: If the Bills are going to be the sleeper that a lot of people think they’ll be, either Cassel or E.J. Manuel is going to have to really improve from how they played last year. Who emerges from the three-way quarterback battle? If Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor proves an effective game manager, Rex Ryan has the defense plus run game formula that equaled two AFC title game trips with the Jets.
2014 DVOA rank: 25th
Key additions: Shaq Thompson (rookie, LB)
Key subtractions: Greg Hardy (DE)
One thing to know: With continuing cap issues, they weren’t able to improve their dismal offensive line (and for some reason they didn’t do so in the draft either). Will they get enough blocking? They look OK inside, where star C Ryan Kalil is the anchor. But will now-healed and now-paid Cam Newton get capable protection off the edges, and will RB Jonathan Stewart find room outside?
2014 DVOA rank: 13th
Key additions: Michael Johnson (DE), Cedric Ogbuehi (rookie, OL)
Key subtractions: Jermaine Gresham (TE)
One thing to know: Without many impact additions, it’s going to be on Andy Dalton to improve to the point where this is a team that can win a game in the playoffs. Do they have the talent (and has it progressed enough) to be more than a one-and-done playoff team? They did little in free agency, and the draft might not offer immediate help. Hard to envision a quantum leap under the circumstances.
2014 DVOA rank: 23rd
Key additions: Dwayne Bowe (WR), Randy Starks (DT), Tramon Williams (CB) Danny Shelton (rookie, DT)
Key subtractions: Jordan Cameron (TE), Brian Hoyer (QB)
One thing to know: They still don’t have a quarterback, which is all that matters. Any reason to believe they’ve closed the gap on the AFC North? Mike Pettine’s a heckuva coach, and his defense should be better in Year 2. But the offensive skill players don’t remotely compare to their counterparts elsewhere in the division.
2014 DVOA rank: 6th
Key additions: Greg Hardy (DE), Byron Jones (rookie, CB)
Key subtractions: DeMarco Murray (RB), Anthony Spencer (DE)
One thing to know: Avoiding a Dez Bryant disaster was their biggest move of the offseason. Can they overcome the loss of DeMarco Murray? RBs Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle can likely provide a decent run game behind the sterling O-line. The challenge is moving the chains to shield a defense that allowed 5.8 yards per play in 2014.
2014 DVOA rank: 2nd
Key additions: Shane Ray (rookie, DE), James Casey (TE)
Key subtractions: Julius Thomas (TE), Orlando Franklin (G), Terrance Knighton (DT), Manny Ramirez (C), Rahim Moore (S)
One thing to know: It was a rough off-season in Denver. The Broncos went all-in in 2014 and had to make some financial sacrifices as a result. Is this Peyton Manning’s final rodeo and, if so, do the Broncos have enough horsepower to get him a second ring? That question might boil down to patchwork O-line and how quickly players synthesize Gary Kubiak’s playbook.
Green Bay Packers:
2014 DVOA rank: 3rd
Key additions: Damarious Randall (rookie, DB)
Key subtractions: Tramon Williams (CB), AJ Hawk (LB)
One thing to know: Don’t read too much into their lack of key additions. The Packers never sign free agents, and it has been a wildly effective strategy. Are they over their NFC Championship Game meltdown in Seattle? New team, new season, yada, yada. But if the Pack want to vie for a Super Bowl 50 berth from the safety of Lambeau Field, they can’t afford an early season hangover.
2014 DVOA rank: 19th
Key additions: Brian Hoyer (QB), Rahim Moore (DB), Vince Wilfork (DT), Kevin Johnson (rookie, DB)
Key subtractions: Andre Johnson (WR)
One thing to know: They had one of the worst QB situations in the league in 2014. They’re hoping Hoyer will give them some resemblance of stablity. Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett? Experience and unproven potential, a microcosm of the Houston roster in many ways. But make no mistake — this team can make some noise if someone quiets the QB conundrum.
2014 DVOA rank: 12th
Key additions: Andre Johnson (WR), Frank Gore (RB), Todd Herremans (OL), Trent Cole (DE), Phillip Dorsett (WR)
Key subtractions: Cory Redding (DE), Reggie Wayne (WR)
One thing to know: The Colts went all-in with the Gore/Johnson signings. Will they have enough defense to compete? Can they beat the Patriots? Andrew Luck and Co. must overcome the same bugaboo Peyton Manning’s Colts had to surmount nearly a decade ago. Otherwise, Indy certainly has the potential to be Super.
2014 DVOA rank: 32nd
Key additions: Dante Fowler Jr. (rookie, DE), Julius Thomas (TE), Dan Skuta (LB), Jermey Parnell (OL)
Key subtractions: Cecil Shorts (WR)
One thing to know: Their bad luck continued when Fowler had a season-ending injury in OTAs. They’re still one of the two worst teams in the league. How deep is owner Shad Khan’s patience? The Jags are 7-25 under GM Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley, though the duo has laid a promising foundation. But three or four wins may not mean a stay of execution in 2015.
Kansas City Chiefs:
2014 DVOA rank: 10th
Key additions: Jeremy Maclin (WR), Ben Grubbs (OL), Marcus Peters (DB)
Key subtractions: Dwayne Bowe (WR)
One thing to know: Their passing game was anemic in 2014. They didn’t get a single touchdown catch out of a wide receiver. Who will ease RB Jamaal Charles’ burden? Solid defense led by $100 million man Justin Houston can be counted on do its share. But QB Alex Smith, LT Eric Fisher, WR Jeremy Maclin and TE Travis Kelce must step up on offense.
2014 DVOA rank: 24th
Key additions: Mike Wallace (WR), Terence Newman (CB), Trae Waynes (rookie, DB)
Key subtractions: Greg Jennings (WR)
One thing to know: They might be the trendiest sleeper pick in the NFL, which makes them not much of a sleeper at all. Will Adrian Peterson break from the gate quickly? Past history suggests certainly yes. But he has basically missed a full year and must find rhythm with coordinator Norv Turner and QB Teddy Bridgewater.
New England Patriots:
2014 DVOA rank: 4th
Key additions: Brandon Gibson (WR), Malcom Brown (rookie, DT)
Key subtractions: Darrelle Revis (CB), Vince Wilfork (DT), Shane Vereen (RB), Kyle Arrington (CB), Tom Brady for four games? (QB)
One thing to know: Bill Belichick’s off-seasons always look like head-scratchers and end up turning out fine, but this one might be different with Tom Brady’s status. But aside from that, who’s going to stop the pass? The Pats parted with their four top corners and seem in danger of reverting to the defense that ranked 25th or worse from 2010-13.
New Orleans Saints:2014 DVOA rank:
Key additions: Dannell Ellerbe (LB), Max Unger (OL), CJ Spiller (RB)
Key subtractions: Jimmy Graham (TE), Kenny Stills (WR), Ben Grubbs (G),Curtis Lofton (LB)
One thing to know: During an off-season when many thought they’d try to start the rebuilding process, they loaded up again to make one last run with Drew Brees. Can they cut the load on Drew Brees’ arm? Defense was atrocious in 2014, and the Saints have had only one top-10 run game once since 2009 Super Bowl season. But they’ve taken steps to address both areas amid life after Jimmy Graham
New York Giants:
2014 DVOA rank: 21st
Key additions: Shane Vereen (RB), Ereck Flowers (rookie, OL)
Key subtractions: Antrel Rolle (DB)
One thing to know: With little cap flexibility to make moves, this team will be roughly the same as it was last year. Are they OK in the trenches? The NFC’s worst defense against the run last year doesn’t look markedly improved, and DE Jason Pierre-Paul is now something of an unknown. The bigger concern is how an overhauled O-line will hold up.
2014 DVOA rank: 29th
Key additions: Amari Cooper (rookie, WR), Nate Allen (DB), Curtis Lofton (LB), Dan Williams (DT)
Key subtractions: Denarius Moore (WR)
One thing to know: Oakland was one of the biggest-spending teams in free agency, but it’ll be the development of Derek Carr at QB in his second year that dictates how much better they get. Is RB Latavius Murray the real deal? A 6-3, 230-pound freight train who showed ability to break off 90-yard TD runs could also be flash in the pan. The answer might determine whether Oakland leaves the AFC West basement.
2014 DVOA rank: 7th
Key additions: Sam Bradford (QB), DeMarco Murray (RB), Kiko Alonso (LB), Byron Maxwell (CB)
Key subtractions: Nick Foles (QB), Lesean McCoy (RB), Jeremy Maclin (WR)
One thing to know: The Eagles might be the league’s biggest wild card. No one would be surprised if they won anywhere from six to 12 games. Can Sam Bradford stay healthy? He’s nearly two years removed from his last regular-season snap and now joins an offense that exposes QBs to many occupational hazards. But if Bradford stays upright, look out.
2014 DVOA rank: 8th
Key additions: DeAngelo Williams (RB), Bud Dupree (rookie, LB)
Key subtractions: Jason Worilds (LB), Troy Polamalu (CB), Brett Keisel (DE)
One thing to know: The Steelers defense from the late 2000s has been completely turned over. This is now an offense-first team. The offense is Super Bowl-caliber, but is it good enough to carry a defense in transition? New coordinator Keith Butler brings his own style, but he can only hope he has adequate pass rush and coverage from inexperienced group.
St. Louis Rams:
2014 DVOA rank: 18th
Key additions: Nick Foles (QB), Nick Fairley (DT), Todd Gurley (rookie, RB)
Key subtractions: Sam Bradford (QB), Zac Stacy (RB)
One thing to know: The defense is so good that even a league-average performance out of Foles would put them in line for a playoff spot. What will they get from new QB Nick Foles? It’s not fair to expect the guy who posted a surreal 119.2 passer rating two years ago. But Foles must capably diversify an offense that has been too one-dimensional of late.
San Francisco 49ers:
2014 DVOA rank: 11th
Key additions: Darnell Dockett (DT), Torrey Smith (WR), Reggie Bush (RB)
Key subtractions: Jim Harbaugh (coach), Justin Smith (DL), Chris Culliver (CB), Frank Gore (RB), Michael Crabtree (WR), Mike Iupati (OL), Perrish Cox (CB), Patrick Willis (LB), Chris Borland (LB)
One thing to know: Nobody had a worse off-season than San Francisco. They’re now in full rebuilding mode. Who’s the boss? Jim Harbaugh, Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith — all strong leaders, all gone. If this team suffers an identity crisis under rookie coach Jim Tomsula, a depleted roster could be of secondary concern.
2014 DVOA rank: 1st
Key additions: Jimmy Graham (TE), Cary Williams (CB)
Key subtractions: Byron Maxwell (CB), James Carpenter (OL), O’Brien Schofield (LB), Max Unger (C)
One thing to know: The Seahawks addressed their biggest weakness in the Jimmy Graham trade, but they had to sacrifice depth to do so. Can they continue managing distractions? The track record shows they know how to cope with significant drama. This year, it starts with contract issues for mainstays Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:2014 DVOA rank:
Key additions: Jameis Winston (rookie, QB), Henry Melton (DT)
Key subtractions: Adrian Clayborn (DE), Josh McCown (QB), Michael Johnson (DE), Dashon Goldson (DB)
One thing to know: The Bucs defensive unit was quietly not terrible last year. If Winston can turn them into a merely bad offensive team rather than the worst offensive team in the league, things could be looking up. How will rookie Jameis Winston handle the spotlight? Given his troubling off-field detours at Florida State, it may be a more relevant concern than his ability to run the Bucs offense, a huge challenge by itself.
2014 DVOA rank: 31st
Key additions: Marcus Mariota (rookie, QB), Brian Orakpo (DE), Hakeem Nicks (WR), Perrish Cox (DB)
Key subtractions: Jake Locker (QB), Kamerion Wimbley (LB)
One thing to know: Marcus Mariota was the last 2015 draftee to sign his rookie deal, but he’ll be there for training camp. Is Marcus Mariota up to the NFL challenge? He’ll surely get more than a 16-game audition, but the Titans know they bypassed some intriguing opportunities to replenish the franchise had they dealt the right to draft Mariota.
2014 DVOA rank: 28th
Key additions: Chris Culliver (CB), Terrance Knighton (DT)
Key subtractions: Brian Orakpo (LB), Ryan Clark (DB)
One thing to know: The reports on Robert Griffin III don’t sound great! Is Robert Griffin III the guy? No way the fourth-year passer collects $16 million in 2016 if he’s subpar in 2015. With Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy in walk years, team could be back at square one under center in six months.