Athlon Sports is going division by division, asking and (trying to) answering the biggest question for every team in the league entering the 2015 season.
Buffalo: Can the QB distribute the ball effectively?
The Bills' coaching staff has been stabilized with the hiring of Rex Ryan. The defense should continue to be one of the league’s best. And with playmaking additions to the offense (LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton), the lone remaining question about a Buffalo playoff run is who plays quarterback? Matt Cassell was brought in to compete with EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor for the starting job. Cassell fits the system the best and clearly has the most experience, however, Manuel still has the most upside. If the signal-caller in Buffalo can simply distribute the football quickly, decisively and without turnovers, the Bills could easily end the NFL’s longest playoff drought.
Miami: Are the right leaders in place?
Last year, the defense featured players questioning coordinator Kevin Coyle. The offense never reached the tempo and efficiency talked about by coordinator Bill Lazor. Calls for Joe Philbin’s scalp were ignored by a totally new front office structure. All three were kept, free agent Ndamukong Suh was added to lead the defense and Ryan Tannehill was inked to a monstrous new long-term contract. The time is now for a team that has been middling for years and key leadership positions are filled by coaches and players with major question marks. If Miami isn’t careful, the Dolphins could fall to the bottom of the AFC East.
New England: What does the secondary look like?
Tom Brady’s suspension has dominated headlines but the Patriots'offense will be just fine the second he steps back into the lineup (if he leaves it at all). The real question about a Super Bowl repeat is holes left on the defense. Losing veteran Vince Wilfork from the line hurts but replacing both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at cornerback could completely change the way this defense plays. The Pats invested heavily in safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, which helps, but look for a heavy dose of zone defense to make up for the lack of star power at cornerback.
New York Jets: Can the passing game create balance?
Much like Buffalo, the Jets feel more stable under a new head coach in Todd Bowles. The already salty defense should be downright nasty after a very active offseason. But can all that defensive firepower mask the one glaring question about the Jets: Can they produce offense through the air? New York has ranked 32nd, 31st and 30th in passing offense the last three years and the quarterback battle will feature Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and fourth-round pick Bryce Petty. There is a lot to like about this team on defense and on the ground, but it won’t make a playoff run without some support from a highly questionable aerial attack.