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AFC preview for 2014 NFL season

AFC EAST

BUFFALO BILLS

Coach: Doug Marrone, 2nd season.

Key additions: WR Sammy Watkins (first round, Clemson); LB Brandon Spikes (New England); WR Mike Williams (Tampa Bay).

Key losses: S Jim Leonhard (Cleveland); S Jarius Byrd (New Orleans); WR Stevie Johnson (San Francisco).

Outlook: The Bills started and ended fast (won two of first three, two of final three) but need to do better to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Coach: Joe Philbin, 3rd season.

Key additions: OT Ju’Wuan James (first round, Tennessee); CB Cortland Finnegan (St. Louis); OT Branden Albert (Kansas City); QB Brady Quinn (St. Louis); RB Knowshon Moreno (Denver).

Key losses: G Richie Incognito (free agent); OT Jonathan Martin (San Francisco); DT Paul Soliai (Atlanta).

Outlook: With a new offensive line and offensive scheme, much of Miami’s success will revolve around how Ryan Tannehill performs in his third NFL season.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Coach: Bill Belichick, 15th season.

Key additions: CB Darrelle Revis (Tampa Bay); CB Brandon Browner (Seattle); WR Brandon LaFell (Carolina).

Key losses: RB LeGarrette Blount (Pittsburgh); CB Aqib Talib (Denver); LB Brandon Spikes (Buffalo).

Outlook: The Pats have ruled the AFC East for years, and it doesn’t look like any team is ready to challenge that this year. New England remains one of the top teams in the league.

NEW YORK JETS

Coach: Rex Ryan, 6th season.

Key additions: QB Michael Vick (Philadelphia); WR Eric Decker (Denver); RB Chris Johnson (Tennessee).

Key losses: QB Mark Sanchez (Philadelphia); CB Antonio Cromartie (Arizona); WR Santonio Holmes (free agent).

Outlook: If the Jets figured out how to keep the ball out of the opponents’ hands, they might have squeezed into the playoffs last year. New York added weapons on offense and will challenge for the postseason.

AFC NORTH

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Coach: John Harbaugh, 7th season.

Key additions: LB C.J. Moseley (first round, Alabama); WR Steve Smith (Carolina); C Jeremy Zuttah (Tampa Bay); TE Owen Daniels (Houston).

Key losses: OT Michael Oher (Tennessee); S James Ihedigbo (Detroit); DE Arthur Jones (Indianapolis).

Outlook: Expect the Ravens to return to the playoffs after missing out on the party following another Super Bowl title. Baltimore will miss Ray Rice for the first two games because of suspension.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Coach: Marvin Lewis, 12th season.

Key additions: CB Darqueze Daniels (first round, Michigan State); S Danieal Manning (Houston); OT Marshall Newhouse (Green Bay).

Key losses: DE Michael Johnson (Tampa Bay); OT Anthony Collins (Tampa Bay); WR Andrew Hawkins (Cleveland).

Outlook: Although the Bengals have been to the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, they’ve yet to win one of those postseason games. This could be the year Cincinnati misses out.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Coach: Mike Pettine, 1st season.

Key additions: QB Johnny Manziel (first round, Texas A&M); LB Karlos Dansby (Arizona); RB Ben Tate (Houston); S Donte Whitner (San Francisco).

Key losses: QB Brandon Weeden (Dallas); S T.J. Ward (Denver); LB D’Qwell Jackson (Indianapolis).

Outlook: There’s excitement on Lake Erie this fall as the Browns try to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since Butch Davis was coach. It probably won’t happen this year.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Coach: Mike Tomlin, 8th season.

Key additions: LB Ryan Shazier (first round, Ohio State); RB LaGarrette Blount (New England); DT Cam Thomas (San Diego); S Mike Mitchell (Carolina).

Key losses: WR Emmanuel Sanders (Denver); DE Ziggy Hood (Jacksonville).

Outlook: The Steelers have missed the playoffs for the past two seasons, but with an easier schedule, could make noise in the division and return to the postseason.

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS

Coach: Bill O’Brien, 1st season.

Key additions: DE Jadeveon Clowney (first overall pick, South Carolina); RB Andre Brown (Giants); QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee).

Key losses: QB Matt Schaub (Oakland); TE Owen Daniels (Baltimore); RB Ben Tate (Cleveland).

Outlook: The Texans should be better than they were last season — although things could hardly get worse. Houston lost 14 in a row after a 2-0 start, but with a new offensive-minded coach in O’Brien, the Texans should be competitive.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Coach: Chuck Pagano, 3rd season.

Key additions: WR Hakeem Nicks (Giants); LB D’Qwell Jackson (Cleveland); DE Arthur Jones (Baltimore).

Key losses: S Antoine Bethea (San Francisco); LB Pat Angerer (Atlanta); RB Donald Brown (San Diego).

Outlook: The Colts are expected to repeat as division champion despite their defensive problems. QB Andrew Luck should continue to get better and will have WR Reggie Wayne back from injury.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Coach: Gus Bradley, 2nd season.

Key additions: QB Blake Bortles (first round, UCF); RB Toby Gerhart (Minnesota); G Zane Beadles (Denver).

Key losses: RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Oakland); QB Blaine Gabbert (San Francisco); LB Russell Allen (free agent).

Outlook: After an 0-8 start, the Jags won four of their next five to at least finish fairly respectable. Veteran QB Chad Henne is expected to start, allowing rookie Bortles (third overall) time before taking over.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Coach: Ken Whisenhunt, 1st season.

Key additions: OT Taylor Lewan (first round, Michigan); OT Michael Oher (Baltimore); LB Shaun Phillips (Denver); WR Dexter McCluster (Kansas City).

Key losses: RB Chris Johnson (Jets); QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Houston); CB Alterraun Verner (Tampa Bay).

Outlook: The Titans have had a losing record in three of the past four seasons, and that isn’t expected to change this year. Johnson is gone, and the Titans need to find his replacement at running back.

AFC WEST

DENVER BRONCOS

Coach: John Fox, 4th season.

Key additions: CB Aqib Talib (New England); S T.J. Ward (Cleveland); DE DeMarcus Ware (Dallas); WR Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh).

Key losses: CB Champ Bailey (New Orleans); OL Zane Beadles (Jacksonville); WR Eric Decker (Jets).

Outlook: The Broncos went 13-3 before getting blown out in the Super Bowl by the Seahawks. That loss still stings, but Denver is expected to once again challenge for a trip to the big game.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Coach: Andy Reid, 2nd season.

Key additions: DL Dee Ford (first round, Auburn); DT Vance Walker (Oakland); OL Jeff Linkenbach (Indianapolis).

Key losses: OT Branden Albert (Miami); WR Dexter McCluster (Tennessee); DL Tyson Jackson (Atlanta).

Outlook: Kansas City was one of the great stories of last season, starting 9-0 after winning just two games the season before. Two wins in their final seven (against nonplayoff teams) tempers things heading into this season.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Coach: Dennis Allen, 3rd season.

Key additions: QB Matt Schaub (Houston); RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville); WR James Jones (Green Bay); DE Justin Tuck (Giants).

Key losses: QB Terrelle Pryor (Seattle); DL Lamarr Houston (Chicago).

Outlook: The Raiders haven’t been to the playoffs since reaching the Super Bowl in 2002, and it doesn’t look like they will be back this year despite spending money in the offseason.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Coach: Mike McCoy, 2nd season.

Key additions: QB Kellen Clemens (St. Louis); CB Brandon Ghee (Cincinnati); RB Donald Brown (Indianapolis).

Key losses: CB Derek Cox (Minnesota); RB Ronnie Brown (free agent).

Outlook: QB Phillip Rivers led the Chargers into the playoffs and a first-round win over Cincinnati with four wins in a row to close the season. The question is whether the defense is good enough to get back.

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