NFL 2014 previews: 32 teams in 32 days

A healthy Percy Harvin could make a world of difference for Seattle in 2014.
September 4, 2014, 9:15 AM

The NFL is back, so please join us in giving thanks for the return of football.

Sportsnet is breaking down everything you need to know about each of the 32 teams — including why you should or shouldn’t be rooting for them this season — in the month leading up to NFL kickoff on Sept. 4. Check each preview out, division by division, below.

TODAY:

Seattle Seahawks: With improvement from Russell Wilson and a healthy Percy Harvin, can the Seahawks become the first team to repeat since 2004?

MORE 2014 NFL PREVIEWS:

AFC NORTH

Cincinnati Bengals: The Cincinnati Bengals have tons of talent and three straight playoff trips to their name. But Andy Dalton needs to prove he can rise to that occasion after three straight flop performances.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Pittsburgh Steelers are three years removed from the Super Bowl and two from the playoffs, but after a rocky start to 2013 they finished on a tear. Can that momentum carry over to 2014 for the Men of Steel?

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens were merely mediocre the season after winning the Super Bowl. Now capped out, they need to count on development from within (and regression from the Bengals) to get back on top of the division.

Cleveland Browns: At one point in 2013 the Browns were 3-2… but subpar QB play submarined the team. Is Johnny Manziel there to save the day, or just to steal headlines while riding the bench of a bad team?

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck has carried the Colts to the playoffs the last two years. For Indianapolis to take the next step, they’ll need help from a roster that’s loaded with question marks.

Tennessee Titans: The Tennessee Titans haven’t made the playoffs since 2008. With free agency looming and a new coach in place, can Jake Locker revive the franchise?

Jacksonville Jaguars: They were a laughingstock for most of the 2013 season, but after a busy off-season overhaul the Jacksonville Jaguars might be a popular sleeper in 2014. Here’s why.

Houston Texans: With J.J. Watt and athletic freak Jadeveon Clowney rushing off the edge, Bill O’Brien’s Texans can challenge for an AFC South title in 2014 —- even though they have Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.

AFC EAST

Miami Dolphins: With the bullying scandal in the rear-view mirror, the Miami Dolphins have to focus on improving on the field, and that means getting the most out of the piles of money they’ve spent.

New York Jets: The pressure is on coach Rex Ryan and QB Geno Smith to make something of the Jets offence. If they can, they could thwart the Patriots’ string of division titles. If they can’t, they could both be out of work.

Buffalo Bills: Buffalo have two new exciting receivers and the NFL’s best running duo in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Will they finally end their 15-year post-season drought?

New England Patriots: You better believe that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady plan to win another championship before they retire. And given the moves the Pats made this off-season, this could be the year.

AFC WEST

San Diego Chargers: A year ago the Chargers were an afterthought. Now they’re a younger, better team with what many think could be a bright future. But everything needs to keep breaking their way.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs were the rags-to-riches story of the 2013 NFL season, but with so much is expected of them this year, can they still deliver a successful campaign?

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have their work cut out for them—finding a quarterback, finding an offence, scoring points… that kind of thing. But there’s (some) reason for hope: They brought in plenty of help over the off-season. And they still have arguably the coolest uniforms in the league.

Denver Broncos: Until the Super Bowl, where they were utterly humiliated by the Seahawks. Manning has a couple of years left at most, and he is angry. You may not like him when he’s angry.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers: There’s any reason to expect a fun season in Green Bay — and one major reason to worry it will all end in tears. Can the Packers muster some defence to balance out their all-world attack?

Chicago Bears: The Chicago Bears have a legacy of stifling defence. Not anymore. Marc Trestman revitalized the Bears offence last year, but their D was among the NFL’s worst. Can it be fixed?

Detroit Lions: The Lions have the talent — but do they have the depth and discipline to stay consistently competitive in the NFC North? Much will depend on what new coach Jim Caldwell instills in his team.

Minnesota Vikings: For a while now the Vikings have depended on Adrian Peterson’s brilliance and not much else. This year they have plans for a more diverse attack. They’ll need one.

NFC SOUTH

Carolina Panthers: This is a team that won the division for only the fourth time in its 19-year history, and getting back there will be a major win, especially considering they’ve never made the playoffs in consecutive years.

New Orleans Saints: It’s painful (and obvious) to note, but 35-year-old Drew Brees won’t be able to suit up for the Saints forever. That means the team and its revamped defence needs to strike now—before it’s too late.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Schiano is out, Lovie Smith is in. From that standpoint, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already winners. What they’ll do on the field, though, is still a mystery.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons came within four points of a Super Bowl berth in 2012, and then came back with a 4-12 season. The Dirty Birds have rebuilt on the fly, but a return to the playoffs is far from given.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly led the Philadelphia Eagles to an NFC East title in his first year as an NFL coach. Now he’s looking to build on that success and compete in a tough NFC.

Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys have finished 8-8 in each of the last three seasons, failing to reach the post-season each time. It’s unlikely 2014 will be any different.

New York Giants: The New York Giants were one of the most active teams this off-season and have a much different look heading into the 2014 season. But will it be enough to compete?

Washington Redskins: With a new head coach and a dynamic new weapon in DeSean Jackson to play with, Robert Griffin III can focus on returning to the form that got his team to the playoffs in 2012.

NFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks: With improvement from Russell Wilson and a healthy Percy Harvin, can the Seahawks become the first team to repeat since 2004?

San Francisco 49ers: Under Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers have made three straight NFC Championship appearances but still no Super Bowl. Is this the last stand?

Arizona Cardinals: Few teams were hotter than the Arizona Cardinals down the stretch last year. With internal improvement, they could challenge Seattle or San Francisco for a division title.

St. Louis Rams: Everything about the Rams revolves around the defensive line. Robert Quinn and Chris Long have developed into a dominant pass rushing tandem and the two should be even more effective with the addition of premier rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

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