New York Jets - Last year they started off 0-3, but came on to make the playoffs for the first time since 1969. The talent's here, thanks to good drafting, and seems to be maturing.
Miami - As long as Don Shula is the coach, the Dolphins will be competitive. But unless they figure out how to beat the Jets, who own a six-game winning streak against them, they may relinquish division honors.
Buffalo - Give Coach Chuck Knox credit, he's done more with this franchise (two straight playoff berths) than most people thought possible. He really needs unsigned running back Joe Cribbs, though.
New England - Did the Patriots blow it by making defensive lineman Kenneth Sims the No. 1 pick of the draft? Some observers think so. A greater concern, however, has to be the once potent, but now spotty offense.
Baltimore - The Sack Pack has disintegrated, the Sad Sacks emerged. Central
Cincinnati - The Bengals made it to the Super Bowl mainly because QB Ken Anderson had a great year. Now all he needs is a good one, because his more seasoned teammates are ready to take up the slack.
Cleveland - Linebackers Tom Cousineau and Chip Banks could do for the Browns what several defensive newcomers did for the 49ers last year, which is to upgrade things tremendously.
Pittsburgh - The Steelers had a long string of winning seasons broken last year, when they were 8-8. Some of the greats have retired, including Mean Joe Greene, and replacement parts must be groomed.
Houston - Word has it that Earl Campbell is running out of gas. West San Diego - Tired of being the aesthetic champions of football with their beautiful passing, the Chargers have done everything imaginable to strengthen the defense.
Kansas City - Each year, Coach Marv Levy seems to find one more piece to the puzzle. The Chiefs' progress has been steady, too, with successive records of 4 -12, 7-9, 8-8, and 9-7.
Denver - The Broncos can't go on forever with Craig Morton at quarterback. They may keep winning, but possibly not as often as they'd like.
Los Angeles Raiders - It just won't feel the same playing in L. A., but let's face it, the Raiders lost some of their mystique last year with their first losing season since 1965.
Seattle - The Seahawks must have some sort of 20-year plan that no one understands. * NFC * East
Dallas - As cooly efficient as ever. The Cowboys will keep on winning with perhaps the best offense in football and a defense that can hold its own.
Philadelphia - Some of the enthusiasm seems to have gone out of the Eagles. To restore it, the offense, and especially QB Ron Jaworski, must bounce back from an off year.
New York Giants - No team was worse statistically on offense last year than the Giants, yet they still made the playoffs. Repeating won't be easy with backup QB Scott Brunner pressed into service for a full season.
Washington - The defense allows opponents to play keep-away with the ball. And until the Redskins get it, QB Joe Theismann has to cool his arm on the sidelines.
St. Louis - Internal problems and a lack of depth spell trouble. Central Detroit - The Lions are a better-than-mediocre team with the good fortune of being in a weak division. To hold off Tampa Bay, though, they better win more close games. They lost five thrillers a year ago.
Tampa Bay - Quarterback Doug Williams can pass the ball, but nobody's really stepped forward to run it.
Chicago - Coach Mike Ditka spent the last several years in Dallas, where he learned the business from Tom Landry. That knowledge should help a little, anyhow.
Minnesota - The Vikings will certainly snap out of the scoring slump they fell into late last season. The defense, however, remains porous.
Green Bay - Two great receivers in James Lofton and John Jefferson, but not a whole lot else. West San Francisco - Despite the euphoria generated last January, the 49ers are no dynasty in the making. They could use a better running game, and people will start getting wise to their passing strategy. Still, there's enough talent to win the division.
Atlanta - QB Steve Bartkowski leads an offense that could upstage San Francisco's. The defense, strong against the run, must improve in passing situations.
Los Angeles - With Bert Jones comes new hope - and added pressure to win. But there just isn't that much championship material on this team to merit great expectations.
New Orleans - Still looking for their first winning season, the Saints may have to settle for something on the order of 7-9 or 8-8.