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AFC preview: East


Big questions: The Jets openly talk about getting to the Super Bowl; will that bluster come back to bite them? What if the team doesn't strike a deal with cornerback Darrelle Revis, their best player on either side of the ball? QB Mark Sanchez had some good games last season but not on a consistent basis. This is his team; is he ready for a sophomore surge? Can LaDainian Tomlinson prove at 31 that the Chargers made a mistake in letting him go?

Big moves: A bunch of big-name players have come onboard: Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes. But the Jets lost an excellent guard in Alan Faneca and that can really hurt (remember the Seahawks minus Steve Hutchinson?) Also, it was a gamble letting kicker Jay Feely go and replacing him with Nick Folk.

Bottom line: Expectations can't get much higher for Rex Ryan's Jets. But they are a great team. Just ask 'em.


Big questions: How well can the Patriots patch their offensive line without two of their best up front, Logan Mankins (holdout) and Nick Kaczur (back)? Will Wes Welker be ready to fully return so soon after his devastating knee injury? How will the team's investment in young cornerbacks — namely Darius Butler and Devin McCourty — pay off for a shaky secondary? Can the Patriots build an effective running game around 2006 first-rounder Laurence Maroney?

Big moves: The Patriots had hoped to squeeze a season or two out of veteran receiver Torry Holt, but no such luck. A knee injury landed him on injured reserve. The team also said farewell to linebacker Adalius Thomas, who never reached his potential after the Patriots paid him more than any free agent in team history.

Bottom line: The Patriots still have some key pieces — a great quarterback and coach — but they also have big deficiencies in other areas. It could be a long year.


Big questions: Can Chad Henne add some stability to a franchise that has gone through seven quarterbacks in the last eight openers. Mike Nolan helped turn around a horrific defense in Denver; can he do the same as defensive coordinator of the Dolphins, who had a tendency to crumble in the fourth quarter? Has RB Ronnie Brown fully recovered from his foot injury?

Big moves: Receiver Brandon Marshall, acquired from the Broncos, should give defenses fits. He has the NFL record with 21 receptions in a game, and once caught 18 balls against the Chargers, most of them against Antonio Cromartie, who, as a member of the Jets, will now face him twice a season. Miami also picked up linebacker Karlos Dansby, making up for the loss of Akin Ayodele.

Bottom line: If the Dolphins can get a defensive boost from Nolan, and Marshall pans out, they will be a dangerous team to overlook.


Big questions: Are the Bills headed for a Lions-type season? With Trent Edwards at quarterback and no strong candidate to play No. 2 receiver to Lee Evans, will they be able to stretch the field enough to get a running game going? Instead of drafting a left tackle in the first round, the Bills opted for running back C.J. Spiller, not an area of extreme need. Will that decision come back to haunt them?

Big moves: Dwan Edwards, a solid defensive end acquired from the Ravens, should help the Bills transition to the 3-4 and do a better job of stopping the run. The most high-profile departure is that of Terrell Owens, who led the Bills in catches (55) and receiving yards (829). The signing of receiver Chad Jackson could help.

Bottom line: The Bills have installed new systems on both sides of the ball. They have missed the playoffs 10 consecutive years. Make it 11.

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