2007 record in parentheses:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (16-0, 18-1 including postseason)

Strengths: Quarterback, with reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady; wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker; a solid offensive line coming back from a poor performance in the Super Bowl loss; and a deep defensive line led by Richard Seymour. Experience and outstanding record this decade, including three NFL titles.

Weaknesses: Secondary, which lost star cornerback Asante Samuel to free agency and has been battered by preseason injuries. Backup quarterback. Age at linebacker could be a problem.

Players to watch: CB Fernando Bryant; first-round draft pick LB Jerod Mayo; record-setting Moss, of course, both on and off the field.

Biggest change: The loss of Samuel and the addition of veteran and rookie cornerbacks competing to replace him.

Schedule key: Four games on the West Coast: San Francisco (Oct. 5), San Diego (Oct. 12), Seattle (Dec. 7), Oakland (Dec. 14).


Strengths: Defensive front seven significantly bolstered with additions of DT Marcus Stroud and LB Kawika Mitchell, plus return of MLB Paul Posluszny, who missed most of 2007 (broken arm) CB depth with rookies Leodis McKelvin (first-round pick) and Reggie Corner (fourth-round), and veteran William James.

Weaknesses: Offensive line unsettled with Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters' holdout, forcing RT Langston Walker to move to left side and reserve Kirk Chambers in for Walker.

Players to watch: Second-round pick WR James Hardy being asked to make immediate impact opposite Lee Evans. McKelvin, still a backup but likely team's top returner. QB Trent Edwards needs to develop after winning job as rookie last year.

Biggest change: Team's mood. Young Bills' core growing in confidence: S Donte Whitner guaranteed they'll make playoffs after eight-year drought. Revamped defense has added depth and experience after finishing 31st in yards allowed.

Schedule key: Bills need fast start, facing three NFC West teams and Oakland in first five weeks before playing division rivals. Did Buffalo lose wintry home advantage when scheduled to host Miami at Toronto's dome Dec. 7?


Strengths: Special teams and offensive line. Leon Washington and Justin Miller returning kicks. Additions of G Alan Faneca and T Damien Woody, combined with promising C Nick Mangold and T D'Brickashaw Ferguson give Jets big, athletic line to protect QB Brett Favre.

Weaknesses: Receivers. After Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, Jets looking for someone among unproven group, Perhaps first-round pick TE Dustin Keller will step up as No. 3 option.

Players to Watch: Favre, of course, along with Faneca, Cotchery, Keller, LB David Harris, NT Kris Jenkins and rookie LB Vernon Gholston.

Biggest Change: Was defensive front seven with additions of Jenkins, Gholston and LB Calvin Pace and trade of LB Jonathan Vilma. Then Favre came to town with his rifle right arm and gave Jets instant boost to position that was huge question mark.

Schedule Key: Pressure's on early as Jets will be hoping to go into bye in Week 5 at least 2-2 after games at Miami, New England home, at San Diego, Arizona home. Come out of bye with five straight against 2007 non-playoff teams: Cincinnati, at Oakland, Kansas City, at Buffalo and St. Louis.


Strengths: RB Ronnie Brown returns from knee surgery after totaling 991 yards rushing and receiving in seven games last year. Backup is Ricky Williams, the mercurial 2002 NFL rushing champion.

Weaknesses: Dolphins are unsettled at receiver and in offensive line. Secondary has been problem for years, and front seven must be revamped following offseason departures of stalwarts Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas.

Players to watch: New QB Chad Pennington; top overall draft pick Jake Long at offensive tackle; Brown and Williams.

Biggest change: New football czar (Bill Parcells), new GM (Jeff Ireland), new coach (Tony Sparano).

Schedule key: Opener at home against Brett Favre-led Jets will offer Pennington a chance for revenge. A win in this closely watched game would be big momentum-builder.