New faces: QB Josh Johnson, QB John Skelton, C Mike Pollak, LB James Harrison, TE Tyler Eifert.
Saying goodbye: FB Brian Leonard, DT Pat Sims, LB Thomas Howard, LB Manny Lawson, CB Nate Clements.
Youth movement: Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, a first-round draft pick in 2012, barely played as a rookie. The Bengals let veteran corners Clements and Jason Allen go in the offseason, though, so Kirkpatrick will get his chance this year.
Best young player: WR A.J. Green, left.
Pressure’s on: QB Andy Dalton. There’s no question two postseason appearances in his first two seasons is a great start to his career. But Dalton hasn’t done much once he’s got to the playoffs. He’ll need a postseason victory to take the next step in his development.
Zimmer’s due: Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer should be a head coach somewhere. He’s as good at his job as anyone in the NFL. The Bengals ranked eighth in points allowed last season, at 20 per game. If they can stay at that number or improve it, it’s a good recipe given the improvements the offense has made.
They’ll win the division if: They capitalize on an advantageous schedule that features little travel and go at least 4-2 against their divisional foes.
They’ll miss the playoffs if: Dalton falters, second-round pick Giovani Bernard is not a No. 1 runner and the secondary struggles.
New faces: DE Chris Canty, TE Dallas Clark, LB Elvis Dumervil, S Michael Huff, LB Daryl Smith.
Saying goodbye: WR Anquan Boldin, LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Paul Kruger.
Youth movement: The Ravens purged several veterans from their Super Bowl-winning team of last season, especially defensively with veteran leaders Reed and Lewis. Also leaving were starters Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams and Paul Kruger.
Best young player: WR Torrey Smith. He’s had a few huge games in his first two seasons, but struggled with consistency. With Boldin gone, Smith should blossom in his third year as quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite target.
Pressure’s on: Linebacker Daryl Smith. He steps into the shoes of Lewis at middle linebacker. A free-agent signing from Jacksonville, Smith is the Jaguars’ all-time leader in tackles.
Next in line: With Reed and Lewis gone, the leader of the defense is linebacker Terrell Suggs. The outspoken pass rusher is entering his 11th season. He has 84.5 career sacks.
They’ll repeat if: The new pieces on defense — including Huff, Dumervil, Canty, Smith and defensive end Marcus Spears — produce at an even higher level than the players they replaced. The same goes for Smith in replacing Boldin. The Ravens will also need another big season out of running back Ray Rice.
They’ll be home in January if: They fail to recapture the momentum of last postseason. The Ravens talked often about it being “fate” that they win in Lewis’ final season — so much so that you started to believe them. If they can’t find that motivation again, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them make an early exit — or miss the playoffs entirely.
New faces: QB Bruce Gradkowski, TE Matt Spaeth, OT Guy Whimper, CB William Gay, RB Felix Jones.
Saying goodbye: LB James Harrison, NT Casey Hampton, WR Mike Wallace, RB Rashard Mendenhall, CB Keenan Lewis.
Youth movement: The Steelers let Harrison go in free agency, but replaced him with the most productive pass rusher in the draft in first-round pick Jarvis Jones out of Georgia.
Best young player: C Maurkice Pouncey. He became the first center in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in the league last year. Has started 45 of a possible 48 career games in the regular season.
Pressure’s on: WR Emmanuel Sanders. He’ll be counted on to replace Wallace, whom the Steelers let go as a free agent, on the outside. Sanders is coming off his best season — with 44 catches for 626 yards — when he operated out of the slot.
They’ll get back to the postseason if: Ben Roethlisberger stays upright and the team’s turnover ratio of minus-10 turns around. The Steelers were 6-3 last year before Big Ben was hurt and they stumbled to an 8-8 finish. Pittsburgh hasn’t missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons this millennium.
They’ll be on the outside looking in if: Young players like Jones, Cam Heyward and Ziggy Hood can’t provide the same production of players like Harrison and Hampton.
New faces: QB Jason Campbell, WR Davone Bess, WR David Nelson, LB Paul Kruger, TE Kellen Davis.
Saying goodbye: QB Colt McCoy, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, TE Ben Watson, DE Frostee Rucker, DE Juqua Parker-Thomas.
Youth movement: With hulking defensive tackle Phil Taylor in the middle of the defense, the Browns have a promising front seven. Linebacker Jabaal Sheard should also be in store for a good season.
Best young player: CB Joe Haden. His presence allows the Browns to play man-to-man coverage on the opposition’s best receiver, freeing them up to get creative with their pressure packages.
Pressure’s on: QB Brandon Weeden. With a new coaching staff in place, led by Rob Chudzinski, Weeden will have to continually prove he’s the right man for the job. He has played well in the preseason.
A .500 record can be reached if: Running back Trent Richardson is able to shake off the various minor injuries that have slowed him and the defense installed by new coordinator Ray Horton lives up to its vast potential.
They’ll be drafting high again if: Weeden isn’t the answer at quarterback. –J.S.