Previews for every AFC team

Scouts Inc. breaks down the game plans for every team in the AFC

Originally Published: August 30, 2011
ESPN The Magazine
Ben RoethlisbergerGregory Shamus/Getty ImagesThe Pittsburgh Steelers are well-equipped to make yet another Super Bowl run.

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AFC EAST

New England Patriots

2010 Record: 14-2
2011 Projected Record: 12-4

Pass Offense:
Last year the Pats made a radical midseason switch from a multi-WR, spread offense to a two-TE system with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Using a variety of personnel packages, motion and short passes, the Patriots are a matchup nightmare for base defenses.

Rush Offense:
Another big offensive change came in the running game -- as in, the Patriots actually ran the ball. The combo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead at RB should provide better playcalling balance than New England has seen in years.

Pass Defense:
The Pats still see themselves as a base 3-4, but because their OLBs struggle as rushers, they'll use four-man fronts too. The DBs grew up last year, helping the D pick off 25 passes, led by Devin McCourty's seven.

Rush Defense:
With Wilfork, Haynesworth and Ellis up front and Jerod Mayo roaming at ILB, the run defense should be excellent. And because of the high-octane O, the Pats won't have to defend the run for four quarters.


New York Jets

2010 Record: 11-5
2011 Projected Record: 10-6

Pass Offense:
In Year 2, Sanchez made better throws to move the chains and threw more TDs than as a rookie. Now he has to keep progressing as the Jets expand their playbook. He'd be wise to focus more on TE Dustin Keller, whose athleticism makes him a major mismatch in the red zone.

Rush Offense:
Ryan wants to pound the ball behind a big offensive line and fullback. It would help if powerful, deceptively quick Shonn Greene finally takes the lead RB role and stops fumbling. Losing Brad Smith hurts their Wildcat package.