Buffalo Bills (2014 record: 9-7)
Head Coach: Rex Ryan
Key Addition(s): RB LeSean McCoy, QB Matt Cassel, FB Jerome Felton, WR Percy Harvin, TE Charles Clay
Key Losses: LB Kiko Alonso, TE Scott Chandler, RB C.J. Spiller
Why They Have a Chance: Former Jets coach Rex Ryan was brought in, after Doug Marrone surprisingly opted out of his contract, to help lead the Bills back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. When we think of Rex Ryan, the first thing that comes to mind is defense. Whether as the head coach of the Jets or defensive coordinator with the Ravens, Ryan's teams were always strong defensively. With the Bills, Ryan inherits a team with a number of good players on defense already in place. What Ryan needs is an offense that can put up points and keep his defense fresh with a strong running game. In comes offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Running back LeSean McCoy. Roman was Jim Harbaugh's offensive coordinator in San Francisco where he over looked an offensive unit that finished 4th overall in rushing last season. The 49ers averaged 29.4 rush attempts per game with an average of 136 yards on the ground. Roman utilizes multiple sets, with different formations, and physical lead blockers who help open holes for the running back to get through the line of scrimmage. McCoy, who was acquired from the Eagles for Linebacker Kiko Alonso, will provide the workhorse that Roman loves at running back. Paired with veteran Fred Jackson, the duo gives Roman a one two punch he can ride to close out a game. ... A new head coach who exudes bravado and confidence in his teams, a run first ball control offense with weapons on the outside, and a defense who will be let loose to attack and bring pressure from all angles might just be the right recipe to get the Buffalo Bills back in the playoffs for the first time since they lost the Music City Miracle.
No. 9 –
Run Defense - 40/40
Kyle Williams remains one of the best run-defending tackles in the game. With his 41 tackles in 2014, Williams was active behind the line of scrimmage, and when asked to bring down the ball-carrier, but he also excels at anchoring against offensive guards and centers to free up his linebackers to make plays. Williams is versatile enough to play head-up on the center, in a gap or head-up on the guard in Buffalo's hybrid defense.
Pass Rush - 43/55
Williams isn't known for his pass-rushing skills, but don't sleep on his production. In 2014 he turned in eight sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 29 hurries for a very respectable season as a pass-rusher. Williams' stout stature (6'1", 303 lbs) allows the former LSU Tiger to beat blockers with leverage, but he has impressive lower-body power to push and drive blockers back off the ball.
Starter - 5/5
Williams has long been a star, and in 2014 he continued to show the ability of a top-10 defensive tackle. Barring injury, he looks to be ready for another great year in 2015 at 32 years old.
No. 4 –
Run Defense - 34/40
Marcell Dareus was a top-tier prospect coming out of Alabama, and he's lived up to that status as a versatile key player for the Buffalo defense. Playing as the left defensive tackle on the Bills line, Dareus is often asked to stuff interior rush lanes and get penetration to stop right-handed teams running hard to his side. Dareus' ability to split blockers and then find the ball allowed him to add 32 solo tackles to his resume in 2014.
Pass Rush - 52/55
Dareus is often asked to take on blockers to free up outside rushers, but he's also a proficient producer on his own. In 2014, Dareus added 10 sacks, three hits and 19 quarterback hurries, while also setting up Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams on the edge. Dareus' size makes him a talented bull-rusher, and his ability to shed blockers with his upper-body strength and then accelerate to close on the ball makes him a dual threat on third downs.
Starter - 5/5
The No. 3 pick from the 2011 NFL draft has lived up to the expectations placed on him. Dareus has become one of the game's best.
Overall - 91/100
Cornerback-Safety Corey Graham: He did a nice job at corner last year in his first with the team, but he moved inside to safety this offseason and could win a starting spot there. Wherever he plays, corner, nickel, safety, he's a player who has a knack for making plays.
FOX Sports, Alex Marvez – Every team's most important game in 2015-16](http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/photos/nfl-schedule-every-team-s-most-important-game-in-2015-16-062515#img_13)
Buffalo vs. New England in week 2
Even if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is suspended, defeating New England would be a huge step for a Bills squad that has won just two of the past 22 meetings (including one in week 17 last year where the Patriots rested their starters).
3. AFC East
This division is leaps and bounds better than what it was in 2014. The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills decided that being decent at football might be a priority, so they went out and got after it this offseason. After adding Percy Harvin, Charles Clay, Matt Cassel, Jerome Felton and LeSean McCoy, Buffalo appears to be solid. It would really be scary with a quarterback, something the Jets can sadly also say.
The Miami Dolphins remain a team that should be good on paper. Miami added the biggest free-agent of them all this offseason, reeling in Ndamukong Suh on a six-year, $114 million deal. With Suh anchoring a defensive line that features Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake, the Dolphins could be devastating. Also, don't underestimate Ryan Tannehill, who threw for over 4,000 yards last year.
Yet, the big bear of the East is still the New England Patriots. The offseason has been tough on Bill Belichick and his crew with Tom Brady getting suspended for the first four regular-season games in relation to DeflateGate and the departures of Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. Still, the Patriots are defending champs and have won the division every year since 2009.