32 Paragraphs About 32 Teams: A Thinking Fan's Guide To The NFL Season

The following is excerpted from the team chapters of the always-excellent Football Outsiders Almanac. Buy it here.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton embodies the classic mid-pack quarterback conundrum: he's not good enough to embrace, but not bad enough to easily replace. For all his faults, real and imagined, not every backup or middling prospect throws for 33 touchdown passes (only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees threw for more in 2013). In fact, hardly any of them do. Even elite prospects are unlikely to be so effective. Look back at Dalton's 2011 draft class for proof. Cam Newton was selected first overall, 34 spots before Dalton. After three seasons, his career passing DVOA is 4.5%, Dalton's 2.0%. Also drafted in the first round were Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder, who combined have thrown for two fewer touchdown passes than Dalton in their careers. (Robert Weintraub)

Baltimore Ravens: Torrey Smith was one constant for Baltimore, but he has only caught 48 percent of his career targets. That puts him in the bottom 10 for wide receivers since 1999 (minimum 200 targets), but it doesn't mean he's a bad player. Part of that number is Joe Flacco's general inefficiency, and part of it is just the nature of being a vertical threat. He was the target of only three screens last year. He's at his best down the field and that's usually where Flacco tries to find him. The offense needs a player like that, but it's great to have someone to complement the deep threat by making all the short catches over the middle and keeping the offense on schedule. (Scott Kacsmar)

Pittsburgh Steelers: "The standard is the standard" as head coach Mike Tomlin likes to say, but standards do change. The Steelers have just enough to remain competitive in almost every game they play, but if the end result continues to be a team stuck in mediocrity, then it's about time for the Rooney family to make wholesale changes. That means firing Tomlin and Todd Haley, retiring Dick LeBeau, and replacing Kevin Colbert in the front office. The Steelers are the last organization anyone would expect that type of house-cleaning from, but complacency breeds mediocrity. This is Pittsburgh. Mediocrity's only acceptable when it's the Pirates. (Scott Kacsmar)

Cleveland Browns: With the passing game questionable, running the ball could be the first, second, and third option in Cleveland, with the emphasis on "option" if rookie Johnny Manziel is at the helm. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking, one-cut run scheme that made Alfred Morris so effective in D.C. will be critical for Cleveland if it hopes to score at all. With the new scheme comes an all-new tandem of running backs: Ben Tate, who comes over from Houston after three solid seasons as Arian Foster's understudy, and rookie Terrance West, who put up eye-popping stats at FCS school Towson. The more important personnel are the three offensive linemen playing with center Alex Mack and All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas. Second-round pick Joel Bitonio is presumably one of them, likely the left guard. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz must improve after a horrid 2013, and all the linemen must pick up the new blocking scheme in a single summer. (Robert Weintraub)

AFC West

San Diego Chargers: It was expected that Shareece Wright would be the No. 1 corner when the 2014 season started until a lovely bit of good fortune jumped in the Chargers' collective lap, by way of a division rival. The Chiefs released Brandon Flowers on June 13, and San Diego signed the veteran cornerback 11 days later to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million. Flowers had his worst season in 2013 (despite making the Pro Bowl), but that was in part because new Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton gave Flowers a lot of time in the slot, preferring bigger cornerbacks outside. As an outside defender, Flowers still has something in the tank—and he immediately becomes the team's best player at that position. (Doug Farrar)

Oakland Raiders: Matt Schaub is the Raiders' latest Quarterback Matt of the Present, and GM Reggie McKenzie is hoping he will be a more durable solution than last year's Quarterback Matt of the Present. It is definitely a risky move after a season in which "Schaubing" became a neologism widely understood to mean "throwing a pick-six." (It had previously been an obscure neologism used to denote the accumulation of impressive cumulative statistics in a losing effort.) Schaub will also be learning a new offensive scheme after spending the past seven years in the sort of zone-blocking boot-heavy scheme the Raiders tried to run in 2012, and he will be operating without a superstar receiver like Andre Johnson to bail him out when things break down or pressure comes. (Free-agent addition James Jones is a quality player and should form a solid starting tandem with Rod Streater, but let's not kid ourselves.) At least he brings a quality play-fake and an acquaintance with some of the subtleties of the quarterback position so missing from Matt Flynn, Matt McGloin, and Terrelle Pryor in 2013. Sooner or later, Schaub will give way to the latest Quarterback of the Future, second-round pick Derek Carr, but the Raiders are hoping that will not be until 2015 so that Carr has time to adjust to a drop-back passing game with multiple reads. (Tom Gower)

Kansas City Chiefs: The most important part of Kansas City's offense is running back Jamaal Charles, who had an outstanding season in 2013. Charles set career highs in yards from scrimmage (1,980) and combined rushing and receiving touchdowns (a league-leading 19). Charles was already a great player before Andy Reid's arrival, but he's become perhaps the most effective version of the kind of back Reid prefers in his offense—versatile enough to do everything from running power (which Charles does better than his "scatback" image would suggest) to splitting out wide and catching passes in several different ways. Only the Saints had more running back screens than Kansas City's 48 last season, and Kansas City's 92.9% DVOA on such plays ranked second behind the Eagles. Charles was the epicenter of the offense; quarterback Alex Smith was what he's always been at his best: a caretaker. (Doug Farrar)

Denver Broncos: There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the 2013 Broncos, except they had a bad game against a great opponent at an awful time. The only real issue is running back. Montee Ball is a more explosive, better runner than the departed Knowshon Moreno, and more experience should help him improve in the passing-game elements so important to the up-tempo Denver attack. The real question is his backup. Speedy Ronnie Hillman fell completely out of favor the second half of the season and may have been surpassed on the depth chart by former undrafted free agent C.J. Anderson. But if backup running back is an offense's biggest concern, that team is well-positioned indeed. (Tom Gower)

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: Even with the quality along the defensive line, safety Jairus Byrd and linebacker Kiko Alonso were arguably Buffalo's two best defensive players in 2013, and replacing them will be a major challenge. Projecting the best way to replace them becomes even more complicated because the hiring of Jim Schwartz will bring yet another defensive scheme change for a team that will now have its fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons. The front four personnel will stay the same, but most observers assume that former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's multiple looks will be gone, replaced by the wide-nine front that Schwartz prefers. It should be said that Schwartz has told the media in the past that he would prefer to be more multiple if he had the right personnel for it, and the move of Manny Lawson from standard outside linebacker to edge rusher suggests there could be more wrinkles here than otherwise expected. But mostly, Schwartz brings the wide-nine because he wants to maximize the pass-rushing potential of his defensive ends and leave seven players in coverage as often as possible. (Christopher Price)

Miami Dolphins: New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor comes from Philadelphia and looks to implement some elements of what made the Eagles so successful a year ago. Running an up-tempo offense is one goal, which shouldn't be a problem for Ryan Tannehill, who often operated from the no-huddle even as a rookie. Nevertheless, there's a big adjustment for Tannehill to make, since for the first time since high school he won't have Mike Sherman around. Sherman coached Tannehill at Texas A&M and then came with him to Miami as offensive coordinator the last two years. Now Lazor looks to bring more diversity to the offense. Some of the zone-read designs that made the Eagles hard to defend can be employed in Miami, especially since Tannehill is a better athlete than Nick Foles. One of Miami's biggest plays last year had Tannehill gaining 48 yards on a simple zone-read keeper against New Orleans. Lost in all the sacks is the fact that there was no push in an equally unproductive running game. The Eagles didn't have the greatest pass protection last year, but the run blocking was very successful, and that's another way Lazor can help keep the pressure off Tannehill. The Dolphins also signed Knowshon Moreno to join Lamar Miller in the backfield. (Scott Kacsmar)

New York Jets: It has been said that Eric Decker Is Not A Number One Receiver so frequently that you might think he has the longest name in the NFL. Taking a broader view, no top receiver has ever gone from a passing attack that ranked first in passing yards to one that ranked 31st. But one of the closest comparisons in recent history does involve the Jets. In 209, Santonio Holmes gained 1,248 yards as the nominal number two behind Hines Ward in Pittsburgh. Holmes was traded to the Jets in the offseason, after New York ranked 31st in passing yards during Mark Sanchez's rookie season. In 2010, Holmes gained 746 yards in 12 games, and that's the type of per-game production the Jets would gladly take from Decker. Decker doesn't need to be a "true" No. 1 receiver (whatever that means) for his signing to work out: he just needs to be better than David Nelson and Stephen Hill. (Chase Stuart)

32 Paragraphs About 32 Teams: A Thinking Fan's Guide To The NFL Season

New England Patriots: Despite some struggles last season, it's shortsighted to say the 2013 season was the first sign the end is near for Tom Brady. The fits of Marinoesque rage directed toward his younger receivers aside, it was a year of personal and professional growth for Brady, who was all over the map statistically but still a legitimate part of the MVP discussion in early December. He's not the same quarterback he was 10 years ago. The accuracy on his deep ball has clearly deteriorated, and two big throws missed early in the AFC Championship Game put the Patriots into a big hole. His pocket awareness, which had always been one of his most important assets, betrayed him at times last year, leading to some very bad sacks. But to use a half-season of woe as an indication that Brady will soon slip into the depths of mediocrity because he struggled with pressure and a group of new pass catchers—in a year when the Patriots essentially asked him to hit the reset button in the passing game—misses the big picture. Now he must build on the chemistry he forged last year with young receivers like Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola. We already saw the progress through Brady's improvement in the second half of 2013. In the first eight games of the regular season, Brady struggled with a shockingly low passing DVOA of -12.4%. In the final eight, Brady was back at 32.9%, in line with his recent career numbers. From Week 9 on, only Peyton Manning and Nick Foles were more efficient according to our metrics. (Christopher Price)

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars: To take another phrase you'll often hear from tanking teams, the Jaguars are currently in "asset accumulation" mode. To that end, they spent this spring finding more players like defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks and cornerback Alan Ball—young veterans who may have some upside if properly utilized. Thus, former Pittsburgh 3-4 defensive end Ziggy Hood will get pushed inside and asked to penetrate. Second-string Minnesota runner Toby Gerhart, who has been kept remarkably fresh behind Adrian Peterson, will be given a shot as a three-down starting back. Dekoda Watson, a linebacker who has played fewer than 400 defensive snaps for Tampa Bay over the past two years, will be given a chance to win a starting job. If these moves don't pan out, they cost Jacksonville little. If the players prove to be good fits for their roles, Jacksonville takes one more step away from the Gene Smith era. (Rivers McCown)

Houston Texans: There are a troubling number of roster spots where Houston cannot point at a clear solution with a track record of success. The arrested development of Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed created a situation where picking Jadeveon Clowney addressed a need. But they're both still likely to start, with Reed moving inside to play next to Brian Cushing. Nobody knows what to expect out of Kareem Jackson after a down season that left his sterling 2012 as an outlier among the rest of his work. Nickel corner Brandon Harris has barely played over the past three seasons and there's nothing behind him. The slot-receiver battle consists of a pair of players—Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey—who have combined for minus-154 DYAR over their first two seasons in the league. All three of Houston's second-day picks are expected to be handed immediate starting roles. And there's the quarterback situation. Ryan Fitzpatrick is in town to play the role of "caretaker with a heart of gold," and fourth-round rookie Tom Savage will be "physically talented rookie with a one percent chance to develop into something worthwhile." Case Keenum returns as "local kid without a future." T.J. Yates will play the role of "backup linebacker Akeem Dent." (Rivers McCown)

Tennessee Titans: New head coach Ken Whisenhunt has a history of working with quarterbacks like Kurt Warner, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers. This is an offensive mind that could conceivably do something to further the progress of the stalled-out Jake Locker—but Whisenhunt was never able to develop Matt Leinart or the lower-tier projects that cluttered his final years in Arizona. We also don't understand why he replaced adequate backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with his ex-Chargers charge, Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst has started a grand total of four games in eight years in the NFL. For his career, he's been worth -301 DYAR with -39.2% DVOA. The backup quarterback doesn't seem like a big deal until you realize that Locker has missed 14 games over the past two seasons. A Locker injury and a quick cameo of realizing Whitehurst is awful might lead the Titans to the Zach Mettenberger Zone, formerly known as Skelton Street. (Rivers McCown)

32 Paragraphs About 32 Teams: A Thinking Fan's Guide To The NFL Season

Indianapolis Colts: Let's list out the leading rushers by red zone DVOA, in reverse order: Trent Richardson (-20.9% on 16 carries), Ahmad Bradshaw (17.7% on nine carries), and Donald Brown (54.7% on 14 carries). Wait, that doesn't add up at all. Oh, right, it's because Andrew Luck rushed for a 61.5% DVOA in the red zone. Luck is not thought of as a running quarterback, perhaps because he lacks certain pigments, but he's every bit as talented at scrambling as Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson. (OK, we'll admit... he also isn't thought of as a running quarterback because the team doesn't want to expose him to injury on zone reads.) (Rivers McCown)

NFC North

Chicago Bears: The entire Bears offense returns intact, with a full year of Marc Trestman-Aaron Kromer science between its ears, so the formula for Bears 2014 success is obvious, though it is unfamiliar in a Bears context. The offense must lead the way. The defense must approach league average. The Packers are vulnerable, the Lions and Vikings pivoting, so a division crown is just a 25-touchdown Jay Cutler season and a series of 27-20 victories away. It's plausible, even likely, but it is not 100 percent desirable: an NFC North title would be swell, but the Bears as they are currently fashioned would be Seahawks-Niners paste in the playoffs. (Mike Tanier)

Minnesota Vikings: New offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been taking lumps since the dawn of the Football Outsiders era because his reputation bears almost no similarity to the average-at-best performances of nearly all of his offenses. So it is important to point out that the two things the Vikings are asking Turner to do are the two things he has generally done very well. Turner excels at teaching quarterback and wide receiver "how to distribute your weight" basics, so fixing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's little hitches and getting the most from wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson are well within his wheelhouse. Turner also designs structurally-sound game plans; he may not outsmart the best opponents, but he never outsmarts himself, putting Turner a big step up from Bill Musgrave and Leslie Frazier. Turner knows how to use second-and-short to his advantage, for example, and history shows that terrible second-and-short teams typically improve in offensive DVOA the next year. It's an easy fix, and Turner is good at easy fixes. (Mike Tanier)

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford may not be the biggest problem, but he is the most noticeable. He threw 13 interceptions in his final eight games, with another six dropped by defenders. His primary issues are mechanical: he is in love with his sidearm throws, which often tail away from receivers, and he delivers too many high hard ones on short crossing routes. Stafford has one of the three strongest arms in the NFL, exceptional passing talent, and enough field smarts to eradicate interception sprees. Past coaches have simply been unwilling or unable to correct fundamental kinks that cause ill-timed disasters. New head coach Jim Caldwell's first step will be Stafford admitting there's a problem. (Mike Tanier)

Green Bay Packers: Never has the fifth-round selection of an offensive lineman in Ohio State center Corey Linsley meant so much to a perennial playoff team. Maybe GM Ted Thompson has decided to start filling holes before they open! The fissures that remain in the Packers' roster infrastructure are now small and manageable. Jermichael Finley will be replaced by a scheme, not a player: Andrew Quarless and Ryan Taylor block well enough to support Eddie Lacy, and a revamped receiving corps alleviates the need for a seam-stretching tight end. The return of Bryan Bulaga and emergence of David Bakhtiari transform tackle into a position of strength after years of thinness. Safety was a problem position last year, but the Packers drafted Ha Ha Clinton-Dix—again, before catastrophe truly struck—and are developing Micah Hyde as a Dom Capers-style blitz safety. Mason Crosby is still a worry on both field goals and kickoffs, but when we are down to the kicker as a source of trouble, then there is not much trouble to be found. (Mike Tanier)

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: From the front office to the quarterback to the receivers to the offensive line to the secondary, this is a team full of question marks, and teams like that usually fall short of the postseason. Lovie Smith, though, has taken teams to the promised land before, and he knows what kind of team he needs to get back. By his presence alone, he brings hope to Tampa Bay, and that's more than you could have said around these parts in years. (Vince Verhei)

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons should be healthier in 2014, and a schedule that doesn't include teams like the Seahawks, Cardinals, or Bills should make life easier on Matt Ryan and company. So why is our enthusiasm for a bounce-back season so restrained? For starters, this team was almost never as good during their five-year run as their sterling win-loss record would indicate. Though they ranked second in total wins between 2008 and 2012, they were just eighth in average DVOA and Estimated Wins, and sixth in Pythagorean Wins. In fact, if we subtract either Estimated Wins or Pythagorean Wins from actual wins, we find only one team (the Colts) in that timespan which over- achieved more than Atlanta did. The Falcons have failed to patch their holes, while the strengths of the roster have diminished with time. (Vince Verhei)

Carolina Panthers: With a major rework to Carolina's receiving group, one intriguing option stands out: Kelvin Benjamin, the 28th overall pick in this year's draft. Benjamin played only two seasons at Florida State, but twice finished in the top ten in the ACC in yards per catch, and led the conference in receiving touchdowns as a sophomore. A physical marvel at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Benjamin should make a tantalizing target downfield and in the red zone. He doesn't have the best hands, and his limited agility won't help him in running routes or breaking tackles after the catch. Rob Rang of CBS Sports compared him to Plaxico Burress, certainly one of the better downfield threats of this century. Rookies, though, are never safe bets, especially not receivers. Between Benjamin's inexperience, Jason Avant's plodding play, the unrepeatable nature of Cotchery's 2013 campaign, and Tiquan Underwood, well, being Tiquan Underwood, the best-case scenario for this bunch is that they are just as good as last year's crew. And best-case scenarios rarely come to pass. (Vince Verhei)

New Orleans Saints: If there is one crack showing in Drew Brees' armor, it's in his ability to avoid sacks. Brees went down 37 times last year, ten more than he ever had in a season before. When we look at the Saints' blocking over the past three seasons, we see that long sacks have generally stayed stable while short and medium-length sacks have soared. This suggests that opponents are getting early pressure on Brees a lot more often. It also suggests that Brees is hesitating to pull the trigger on quicker pass routes. Regardless, if the trend continues, it could be the downfall of the Saints' season. Brees can't throw touchdowns from his back—or from the sidelines. (Vince Verhei)

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers: We can expect that Michael Crabtree's targets will balance out with Anquan Boldin's, since Crabtree was just coming back from injury a year ago. Stevie Johnson will eat into some of the receptions as well, as the team should use more three-wide sets than it has in the past. This will likely leave Vernon Davis with better opportunities, but fewer of them. He should still be a prime red-zone target, but hitting 50 receptions again will be difficult. There's a reason Davis wants a new contract now rather than waiting a year. (Jason Lisk)

Arizona Cardinals: While the defense is just trying to hold steady, the offense has potential to improve in 2014. The offensive line should be adding two superior talents, if they can stay healthy. Massive left tackle Jared Veldheer, signed as a free agent from Oakland, missed 11 games last year with a torn triceps. Jonathan Cooper should be ready to go from his broken leg. However, the biggest reason for optimism on offense is second-year running back Andre Ellington, the No. 1 player on this year's FOA Top 25 Prospects list. Ellington averaged 5.5 yards per carry and was fourth in rushing DVOA as a rookie. Teammate Rashard Mendenhall had 99 more carries, but the two produced almost identical yardage totals. The offense was more dynamic in 2013 with Ellington playing a larger role, and with Mendenhall gone, he should be a big factor this year. (Jason Lisk)

St. Louis Rams: To hammer home the shortness and predictability of the Rams offense: Sam Bradford attempted just six "deep" passes in seven first quarters last year. Five of those passes were thrown 20 to 23 yards downfield, so they were hardly deep at all: the Rams never bothered to throw basic "stretch the field" bomb passes in their first few drives of the game. Instead, they offered defenses a steady diet of Brian Schottenheimer specials: shallow crosses, play-action weirdness in the flat, tunnel screens to Tavon Austin, hitch routes, and other highly-engineered five-yard nonsense. Do you remember the old Warner Bros. cartoon about the factory that tears down an entire forest to create the perfect toothpick? That's what Schottenheimer's offense looked like last year. (Mike Tanier)

Seattle Seahawks: If the Seahawks are to move to more of an aerial attack, Russell Wilson will have to make more definitive throws in the pocket. It's a primary reason he lasted until the third round of the 2012 draft—at 5-foot-11, many teams were scared that Wilson would not be able to create plays consistently because of the traffic in front of him. Like Michael Vick and Drew Brees before him, Wilson rolls out to create throwing lanes, and he's been prolific and successful in that regard. Last year, Wilson threw 91 actual passes outside the pocket, the most in the NFL, and he averaged a phenomenal 8.0 yards per pass, much higher than the NFL average of 5.9 yards. Encouragingly, Wilson has also been excellent when asked to stick and stay—once we account for sacks and scrambles, his DVOA ranked the same both in the pocket (35.0% DVOA, eighth) and out of the pocket (26.3%, eighth). But there could be a lot of weird residue in an extra 100 or so extra pass plays, especially if opposing defenses move their safeties back because they aren't as scared of their linebackers getting plowed over by Mr. Skittles himself, Marshawn Lynch. (Doug Farrar)

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: Head coach Jason Garrett might already be unemployed if he didn't have Tony Romo at quarterback for this wild ride. For all the grief he gets, no quarterback since 2011 has led more fourth-quarter comebacks (11) or game-winning drives (13) than Romo. His 20 career fourth-quarter comeback wins are more than any quarterback in Dallas history, including Roger Staubach (15) and Troy Aikman (16). Garrett's overall record at game-winning drive opportunities is 16-19 (.457), sixth-best among active head coaches. Led by Romo, the Cowboys have consistently done well in tight games, but somehow he always finds a way to correlate his worst plays with the highest Nielsen ratings. The two late interceptions against Green Bay to seal the fall-from-ahead loss were the latest example. (Scott Kacsmar)

New York Giants: For starters, let's put something in perspective: Eli Manning averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt in 2013, only a hair behind both the league average and his career average (7.1 in both cases). In other words, it's not as though Manning had a terrible year across the board. Rather, it was Manning's interception and sack rates that torpedoed his season. Manning has always been an interception-prone quarterback, of course: he has now led the league in that metric three times. But there's always a fair bit of luck involved with interceptions, and in 2012, Manning was the beneficiary of nine dropped interceptions. As a result, his adjusted interception rate went up only half as much as his actual interception rate. He's never going to be confused with his brother, but no Manning—heck, no starting quarterback—is going to throw 27 interceptions per year in today's NFL. No quarterback has even put up more than 20 interceptions in consecutive seasons since Jake Plummer in 1999 and 2000. (Chase Stuart)

Philadelphia Eagles: Last season, Chip Kelly disproved the myth that he needs a mobile quarterback to run his offense. Once Michael Vick inevitably went down with injury, Nick Foles was far more efficient, and he even had 17 zone-read runs for 82 yards. (Vick had nine runs for 126 yards). He's not overly mobile, but he's not a statue either. An argument could be made that a mobile quarterback would make the offense better, but passing is still the first priority. Foles used the success of the zone read to his advantage with packaged plays involving the play-action passing game. That delayed reaction from the defense watching the mesh point led to numerous big plays for this offense, especially when Foles was healthy in the second half of the season. The Eagles went from using play action on 24 percent of their passes in their first eight games to 39 percent in the final eight games, a period in which Foles averaged 10.2 yards per attempt and threw 12 touchdowns on play-action passes. Only Peyton Manning finished the season with more touchdown passes off play action (17) than Foles' 15. Defenses may not respect Foles as a runner, but they can't just crash the mesh point for fear of the play being a pass. (Scott Kacsmar)

Washington Redskins: Dan Snyder: You must do your best to juggle the competing missions of 1) making your team good while not knowing what makes a football team good and 2) earning the hatred of every sports fan on the planet, even those in Dallas. The return of Robert Griffin III's leg strength will help Washington, but given the quality of the defense and special teams, projections generally see the ability to rebound as limited to around seven or eight wins. If you can luck your way into the right combination of scrap-heap players and undrafted free agents, you just might deflect enough attention to pull off some amazing feats of greed. You will forget all of this. (Rivers McCown)


Excerpted from the Football Outsiders Almanac, which can be purchased here. The almanac was written by Aaron Schatz, Bill Connelly, Doug Farrar, Nathan Forster, Brian Fremeau, Tom Gower, Matt Hinton, Scott Kacsmar, Jason Lisk, Rivers McCown, Christopher Price, Chase Stuart, Mike Tanier, Vince Verhei, and Robert Weintraub.