1. Indianapolis Colts (16.5)
Offense: Death, taxes and another 4,000-yard, 30-TD season for QB and four-time MVP Peyton Manning. WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark (100 catches each in '09) lead deep receiving corps. RBs Joseph Addai and Donald Brown need better blocking from banged-up offensive line, whose primary duty is protecting Manning (NFL-low 11 sacks allowed in 2009). Grade: 5.0.
Defense: Pro Bowl DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have combined for 134 sacks and 62 forced fumbles since 2003. MLB Gary Brackett is the heartbeat of this unit. The secondary has survived without oft-injured S Bob Sanders, but the Colts are better with the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year. Grade: 4.5.
Special Teams: K Adam Vinatieri is back from injury-plagued '09 and P Pat McAfee impressed as a rookie. Poor return game must be addressed. Grade: 3.0.
Coaching: Jim Caldwell's staff made changes, but winning philosophy stays intact. Grade: 4.0.
On the spot: Addai and Brown. The Colts need more offensive balance.
Prediction: Road to AFC championship goes through Indy. Again. Record: 12-4.
2. Tennessee Titans (15.5)
Offense: Explosive RB Chris Johnson seeks to become the first back-to-back 2,000-yard rusher. It helps to run behind a terrific O-line, which also allowed just 15 sacks (second in NFL). QB Vince Young has his critics, but he's 26-13 as a starter. Look for second-year Kenny Britt to emerge among group of unheralded receivers. Grade: 4.0.
Defense: Run defense was good, but Titans address poor pass rush by drafting DE Derrick Morgan. The secondary, which got torched often last season, needs CB Cortland Finnegan and FS Michael Griffin to regain '08 Pro Bowl form. Grade: 4.0.
Special Teams: K Rob Bironas and P Brett Kern (Grand Island) are strong legs. Rookie return man Damien Williams is a big-play threat. Grade: 3.0.
Coaching: Jeff Fisher always gets his teams to play hard. Grade: 4.5.
On the spot: Young. He must continue growth as player and leader.
Prediction: Need a fast start to be in playoff hunt. Record: 9-7.
3. Houston Texans (15.0)
Offense: QB Matt Schaub (4,770 yards, 29 TDs) and WR Andre Johnson (101 catches, NFL-high 1,569 yards) spearhead the league's top-ranked passing attack. TE Owen Daniel also returns from knee injury. RB Arian Foster might provide a good running game if the O-line improves. Grade: 4.5.
Defense: Lots of young playmakers from Pro Bowl DE Mario Williams and DT Amobi Okoye to Pro Bowl LBs DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing (the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year), who will serve four-game drug suspension. CB Kareem Jackson, a first-round draft pick, replaces free agent defector Dunta Robinson. Grade: 3.5.
Special Teams: K Neil Rackers replaces Kris Brown, the last original Texan. Jacoby Jones is an electric return specialist. Grade: 4.0.
Coaching: Gary Kubiak has the team moving in the right direction. Grade: 3.0.
On the spot: Schaub. Can he stay injury-free for second straight season?
Prediction: Could earn first-ever playoff berth. Record: 9-7.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (13.0)
Offense: It begins and ends with RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who thrived in first year as full-time starter (1,391 yards, 15 TDs and 53 catches). QB David Garrard has rangy targets in 6-6 TE Marcedes Lewis and 6-2 WR Mike Sims-Walker. The O-line is better run blocking that pass protecting. Grade: 3.0.
Defense: Free agent DE Aaron Kampman and rookie DT Tyson Alualu add teeth to one of the worst pass rushes in NFL history (league-low 14 sacks). Kirk Morrison brings toughness at linebacker. CB Rashean Mathis is among league's best, when healthy. Grade: 3.0.
Special Teams: The Jags have no worries with K Josh Scobee and Rochester-born P Adam Podlesh. Returners Mike Thomas and Rashad Jennings should be effective. Grade: 4.0.
Coaching: Jack Del Rio's teams play hard even when they don't play well. Grade: 3.0.
On the spot: Garrard. His days are numbered if he doesn't produce this year.
Prediction: Destined for another year in division cellar. Record: 5-11.