We are just three weeks away from the start of the NFL regular season, which means it's time for teams to get down to business. While some squads have glaring weaknesses all over the roster and others are ready to compete for a title, there's no doubt that everyone faces at least a little uncertainty headed into the 2016 season. Here are the biggest questions for every AFC team; click here for the biggest questions for every AFC team.
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Baltimore Ravens: Can the Ravens get younger and still make the playoffs?
Steve Smith Sr., Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are all fantastic football players. They're also all in the latter parts of their careers. Ideally, Baltimore will find a way to use WR Breshad Perriman (once he's healthy) and LBs Kamalei Correa and Za'Darius Smith to lighten the load on the veterans while not sacrificing any production. If the young guys play well, the Ravens should avoid missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005.
Buffalo Bills: Is Tyrod Taylor the long-term answer at quarterback?
Taylor's job might not be the only one on the line after he signed an extension that allows the Bills to walk away after this season. Rex Ryan is all-in on Taylor being the solution for Buffalo at quarterback. If Taylor flops, and if the Bills follow right along, Ryan could be on the hot seat much sooner than he expected.
Cincinnati Bengals: Is Marvin Lewis coaching for his job?
Lewis still has one year on his current deal, but 2016 will likely determine his fate in Cincinnati. The Bengals have zero playoff wins in seven tries during Lewis' 13 seasons, and another postseason failure -- or worse, missing the playoffs altogether -- would likely mean the end of his tenure. Losing WRs Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu and safety Reggie Nelson makes the task of breaking through in the postseason even more difficult.
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Cleveland Browns: Could Cleveland finally be turning things around?
We're just talking about the preseason, of course, but Robert Griffin III was pretty solid on Thursday night. Hue Jackson should be a massive coaching upgrade, and Cleveland's front-office could give the Browns a competitive advantage if all the analytics number-crunching actually amounts to anything. This team won't make the playoffs, but there's a foundation to build with here.
Denver Broncos: Can the QBs play well enough to let the rest of the team carry the load?
Peyton Manning's departure means that the Broncos will rely on Von Miller and the defense, but don't completely overlook Denver's offense. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are both outstanding receivers, while C.J. Anderson could reasonably take on a bigger load this season after a Pro Bowl appearance in 2014. As long as Mark Sanchez (or Trevor Siemian, for that matter) can avoid turning the ball over, the Broncos should find themselves back in the playoffs.
Denver Post via Getty ImagesJoe Amon
Houston Texans: Will J.J. Watt be his dominant self?
All indications are that Watt will be fine sooner than later as he recovers from surgery on a herniated disc in his back. The Texans don't need Watt to be "fine," however. They need the world-destroying defensive end who strikes fear into the hearts of opponents. With that version of Watt on defense, Brock Osweiler and the offense can likely put up enough points to make Houston a playoff team once again in 2016 — especially after upgrades to the skill positions with RBs Lamar Miller and Tyler Ervin and WRs Will Fuller and Braxton Miller.
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Indianapolis Colts: Has Andrew Luck learned to help his own cause?
Assuming Luck is back to 100 percent health this season, the Colts will obviously be better than they were last year. Luck's health isn't just some random variable controlled by the whims of the universe, though. His tendency to stand in against the rush to deliver a last-second strike is courageous and, at times, necessary. He still needs to figure out how best to avoid the most crushing hits — and if he can cut down on the turnovers just a bit, even better.
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Jacksonville Jaguars: Are the Jags ready to take the next step?
The focus will be on Blake Bortles and his interceptions; this is a quarterback-driven league, after all. For the Jaguars to live up to their popular status as a sleeper this season, however, the freshly stockpiled defense will have to step up. DT Malik Jackson, CB Jalen Ramsey, LB Myles Jack and FS Tashaun Gipson have their work cut out for them, but there's a ton of talent here — and the AFC South could potentially be there for the taking.
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Kansas City Chiefs: What happens if Alex Smith falters?
After dealing with some crushing injuries last season, the Chiefs are back at full-strength with the return of RB Jamaal Charles and LBs Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Along with Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, that should be plenty of talent for Kansas City to try to reclaim the division from the Broncos — assuming Smith continues to excel running the offense. He better, because the backup quaterback situation is bleak now that Chase Daniel is gone. And as good as Charles still is in the backfield, he's not going to carry an offense by himself without some help from his QB. As long as Smith stays efficient (if unspectacular), K.C. will survive.
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Miami Dolphins: Is Laremy Tunsil the answer to Ryan Tannehill's prayers?
184. That's the number of sacks Tannehill has suffered in his NFL career, for an average of almost three per game. When he stays upright, though, he's not all that bad of a passer, with 4,000 yards through the air in each of the past two seasons. Tunsil tumbled down the draft board because of his infamous leaked video, and that might be Tannehill's saving grace if the rookie lineman can help keep his QB out of harm's way. Whether that's enough to make Tannehill worth the deal he signed last offseason will remain an open question.
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New England Patriots: Will Jimmy Garoppolo leave the Pats on solid ground?
I wanted to use this space to talk about the Patriots secondary, which might be better than you think this year. The fine minds over at Pro Football Focus rank New England's defensive backs in the top three despite the lack of interceptions last year. Stop me if you've heard this before: the Patriots are so fundamentally sound in the backfield that they win the day without making flashy plays. Ugh. Anyway, the secondary will be a big question, but Garoppolo is obviously the biggest question. New England won't be satisfied with saving face and going 2-2 during Tom Brady's suspension. Can Garoppolo give the Patriots enough to come away with three wins against Arizona, Miami, Houston and Buffalo, with the last three of those games at home?
New York Jets: What does the future hold for Geno Smith?
Before Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his monster new deal, it seemed like Smith might end up as the starter in New York next season. Now, he might be one of four quarterbacks the Jets bring into the regular season. With Fitzgerald firmly entrenched as the starter, it's a matter of when, not if, Smith ends up with another team. Will the Jets look to move him before the trade deadline or ride out the season with an overqualified backup, just in case?
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Oakland Raiders: Can the Raiders live up to the hype?
From top to bottom, this is the best the Raiders have been since their Super Bowl XXXVII appearance against the Bucs. In fact, it's hard to find a weakness on the roster — but that's all just on paper. Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree, Amari Coper, Latavius Murray, Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and the rest of this young Oakland squad will have to prove they're ready for the big time if they want to lead the Raiders to their first winning season since that aforementioned 2002 season. Then again, when you start listing all those names, Charles Woodson's Super Bowl prediction makes a little more sense.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Pittsburgh Steelers: Do all the new additions make Pittsburgh the AFC favorite?
A once-great Steelers defense has fallen off in recent years, so Pittsburgh has poured draft picks into fixing the holes on that side of the ball. With the continued emergence of guys like Bud Dupree, Lawrence Timmons and Jarvis Jones, and the addition this offseason fo Artie Burns and Sean Davis, Pittsburgh has the makings of a dominant unit that could be together for a long time — and could make up for last year's close call in the AFC Championship Game. But will suspensions for Martavis Bryant and Le'Veon Bell stress the offense beyond the point where even Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown can save the day?
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San Diego Chargers: Will distractions derail any chance of a surprising season?
We kind of knew going into this season that the Chargers' status in San Diego would hover over the team. What we didn't expect was Joey Bosa joining the illustrious list of names who have held out in Chargers history. At best, Bosa has missed out on valuable playing time in practice and the preseason. At worst, he torpedoed his chances to make an impact in 2016. Meanwhile, San Diego has talent on offense but very little depth. Anything that takes away from the team's focus on the field will prove costly as the Chargers try to rebound from last year's 4-12 flop.
Getty ImagesJon Durr
Tennessee Titans: Was Mike Mularkey really the answer?
The Titans turned heads when they hired Mularkey to be their full-time coach after he served as interim coach following Ken Whisenhunt's midseason firing. People can question the decision all they like; Mularkey will be judged on one simple development: Can he help turn Marcus Mariota into the kind of franchise quarterback Tennessee hopes he is? That won't happen overnight, but both coach and QB need to show signs of progress in 2016, or the questions will quickly reach a deafening volume.