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2023 NFL season: Biggest challenge for each team

With training camps underway across the league, Eric Edholm identifies the biggest challenge facing each team heading into the 2023 NFL season.

On Saturday, July 29, NFL Network will present Training Camp: Back Together Saturday. Beginning at 9 a.m. ET, more than 50 analysts, reporters and team correspondents will provide 13 hours of live coverage from training camps across the NFL -- plus, check out NFL Films-produced wired sound of players and coaches in action.

Arizona Cardinals
2022 record: 4-13

Biggest challenge: Identifying key future building blocks.

When the Cardinals watched a slew of veterans walk out the door this offseason before picking up a 2024 first-rounder in a draft-day trade, it was a pretty clear indication the team was amid a significant roster refresh. New general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon now must weather what could be a challenging season while keeping an eye down the road, specifically on which younger players will figure into that rebuild. Chief among them: QB Kyler Murray. But coming off an ACL injury, Murray's availability timetable is not yet clear. Arizona also has questions about a number of recent draft picks, including DB Isaiah Simmons, LB Zaven Collins, WR Rondale Moore and OT Josh Jones. There's a lot to figure out over the next six months.

Atlanta Falcons
2022 record: 7-10

Biggest challenge: Improving defensively with a first-year coordinator.

The Falcons were not great in many aspects defensively last year (ranking 27th overall and 23rd in scoring D), as their activity this offseason suggests. They were aggressive in adding defensive talent via free agency (signing Jessie Bates III, Bud Dupree, Kaden Elliss, David Onyemata and Calais Campbell) and trade (Jeff Okudah). The biggest worry is the pass rush after Atlanta had the second-fewest sacks (21) in 2022, which is probably why ex-Saints DL coach Ryan Nielsen is now the Falcons' first-year defensive coordinator. Can Grady Jarrett, Lorenzo Carter, Arnold Ebiketie and the newcomers up front do a better job of heating up opposing quarterbacks? I'm not too concerned about the offense. But it's hard to imagine Atlanta making a playoff push without better results on the other side of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens
2022 record: 10-7

Biggest challenge: Developing chemistry and timing quickly with new OC Todd Monken.

In the end, I'm not too worried about how Monken and QB Lamar Jackson will vibe. Monken has extensive recent experience in the NFL and college football, and he showed steady improvement as the play-caller for a somewhat-flawed Buccaneers offense from 2016 through '18. If healthy, Jackson will be fine. But mastering Monken's system takes timing and precision. Monken is expected to vary tempo quite a bit and have some plays called at the line, with Jackson holding the power to make his own calls on the fly. Monken's 2016 Bucs had a fast-paced offense but were guilty of early pre-snap penalties before settling down later that season. The Ravens have three divisional road tests in the first five games, so the acclimation process must be swift. The AFC North looks like a bear this year.

Buffalo Bills
2022 record: 13-3

Biggest challenge: Keeping the offensive centerpieces happy and productive.

It's nut-cutting time for the Bills, who have played multiple postseason games the past three years but do not have a Super Bowl appearance to show for it. News broke on Monday that RB Nyheim Hines is expected to miss the entire 2023 season after a jet ski accident, which is a hit. But the key pieces remain for this offense to be special once again. That said, there's real doubt about whether Buffalo can land the ultimate prize. One thing's for sure: The MVP-caliber QB, WR1 and OC all must be in lockstep. Star QB Josh Allen is squarely in his prime at age 27. WR Stefon Diggs is coming off the second-most productive season of his career and isn't yet 30. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey took some lumps in Year 1 of play-calling but led a group that finished second in points and yards. If there's a disconnect between any of the three, that must be solved in August. The simmering tension that lingered from Buffalo's disappointing 2022 finish has to be put on ice. If not, this trio might not be back intact next year, and the Bills' quest for a first Super Bowl title will linger on longer. 

Carolina Panthers
2022 record: 7-10

Biggest challenge: Building an offense around Bryce Young.

Constructing an offense in an offseason, as the Panthers are attempting to do, is a bit like building a ship in a bottle: It's painstaking, detailed work with a lot of do-overs and a few choice words mixed in. Luckily for Carolina, the pieces look fairly intriguing. No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young has generated near-Cam Newton levels of buzz before throwing a meaningful pass, and head coach Frank Reich has dished out hearty praise while measuring expectations. How Young operates in the NFL at his size and what the Panthers ask him to do will be quite revealing. Will they, as Alabama seemingly did, throw the kitchen sink at the precocious signal-caller? Or will Reich dial things back while Young adjusts to pro defenses and a new offensive system? Winning the division is within the realm of possibilities for Carolina in the underwhelming NFC South, but there are bigger long-term aims here.

Chicago Bears
2022 record: 3-14

Biggest challenge: Finding sources of pressure on defense.

In all honesty, there's a loftier team goal, which is identifying whether or not Justin Fields is The Guy. But assuming the offensive upgrades help, and Fields takes another step forward, the defense has to come squarely into the crosshairs. The reality is that the NFC North is suddenly winnable, and if the Bears want to make a run at the playoffs, it's also going to take wholesale improvement on defense, specifically with the pass rush. Chicago was near or at the bottom of the league in pressure numbers across the board -- hurries, QB hits and sacks -- last season. Right now, the Bears feature DeMarcus Walker, Dominique Robinson, Rasheem Green and Trevis Gipson as their likely top rushers. Are they enough? If the early camp returns indicate they're not, GM Ryan Poles has the means to seek veteran help.

Cincinnati Bengals
2022 record: 12-4

Biggest challenge: Replacing two fixtures at safety.

Lou Anarumo has been a quiet savior for the Bengals' defense over the past few years, most notably last season, when Cincinnati boasted the sixth-best scoring unit and allowed the fourth-fewest first downs. Teams threw against the Bengals, but it took work to dent them because of the solid play of safeties Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. Now both are gone, which likely leaves 2022 first-rounder Dax Hill and free-agent addition Nick Scott as the likely starters, with 2023 third-rounder Jordan Battle a possible Year 1 contributor. Anarumo cut his teeth in the league as a DBs coach, so this challenge is right in his wheelhouse. The question is how much he'll trust the young guys -- and whether he can be as creative and expansive running a defense with his top three safeties combining for fewer than 20 NFL starts between them. They could take some lumps early.

Cleveland Browns
2022 record: 7-10

Biggest challenge: Unlocking Deshaun Watson's full talent.

It sounds elementary, unleashing a superior talent at quarterback, but as we saw last season with Watson struggling, it's not always that simple. Can Watson's 2022 woes be blamed on rust? Off-field distractions? The Browns' personnel and scheme? Perhaps it was degrees of each. But now the chore for head coach Kevin Stefanski -- whose seat will warm if the losing continues -- will be to put Watson in the best possible position to succeed and trust that he can turn the page. Cleveland's WR room looks stronger with the additions of Elijah Moore and Cedric Tillman, and Watson's chemistry with Amari Cooper should be better after the two vets had so little time to properly mesh last year. But until we see the old Watson back with our own eyes, the question of whether he's still got it will persist.

Dallas Cowboys
2022 record: 12-5

Biggest challenge: Maintaining stability on the offensive line.

The talent is there for Dallas to once again have a top-tier offensive line, but there are some health concerns that give pause. The Cowboys might not be able to count on LT Tyron Smith starting all season -- seeing as how the 32-year-old has missed a combined 33 games over three seasons -- and RT Terence Steele is coming off a season-ending knee injury. If they're both healthy, the assumption is that 2022 first-rounder Tyler Smith will play left guard, as he did at times down the stretch as a rookie. Add in RG Zack Martin and C Tyler Biadasz, and that's a darned good starting five. But now Martin wants to be paid more money. One or two injuries -- or a Martin holdout -- could cause the whole ball of yarn to unravel. The depth thereafter is suspect at worst, unproven at best. 

Denver Broncos
2022 record: 5-12

Biggest challenge: Striking a balance with Russell Wilson.

In Seattle, Wilson became one of the league's best playmakers even as he sometimes was held back by the Seahawks' system. Last season in Denver, with Wilson having more autonomy over the offense, he had arguably his poorest NFL campaign. Enter Sean Payton, who hasn't really had a QB like Wilson before, but whose offenses were some of the more productive in the NFL in New Orleans for 15 years. Payton's roots are in the West Coast offense, but he has regularly varied formations and used a heavy dose of shotgun, with the wide run game and short/intermediate pass game as key staples. Payton also has tailored his offense to varying skill sets, as we saw when he called plays for Taysom Hill. Payton and Wilson have been two of the best at what they do in the past, but can they find common ground in the present and end the QB's slump? That likely will define how far the Broncos can go in 2023.

Detroit Lions
2022 record: 9-8

Biggest challenge: Developing chemistry in the secondary.

And this was a challenge before do-it-all DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson was carted off the practice field on Monday with a non-contact knee injury. Detroit's pass defense hasn't been up to snuff the past two seasons, as the Lions have been competitive but have found themselves in too many shootouts. This offseason, the team committed significant resources to the secondary, adding CBs Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley and Gardner-Johnson in free agency, before pouncing on versatile DB Brian Branch in Round 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Along with holdover safeties Tracy Walker and Kerby Joseph, the Lions have the makings of a much-improved group in the back end. A significant injury to the uniquely talented CJGJ would be a real blow, though NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported that there is optimism following the initial scare. Regardless, DC Aaron Glenn must find the best ways to utilize everyone. A better pass rush also could aid this unit. The Lions open with the Chiefs in Week 1, which will throw the secondary right into the fire, although the schedule softens a bit after that. But Detroit's playoff hopes could rest on how much this secondary improves this season. 

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Lions coach Dan Campbell said it appears C.J. Gardner-Johnson avoided serious injury.

Green Bay Packers
2022 record: 8-9

Biggest challenge: Getting the rookie tight ends up to speed quickly.

One of the more quietly fascinating draft storylines in April was the Packers selecting tight ends in Rounds 2 (Luke Musgrave) and 3 (Tucker Kraft), with the expectation that both will be vying for regular playing time in Year 1. Does this signal a shift to more 12-personnel packages, with both rookies (or Josiah Deguara) on the field together? It's possible. The Packers are quite inexperienced at wide receiver and tight end, so head coach Matt LaFleur likely won't pigeonhole his system until he knows whom he can trust. Musgrave is talented but was held back by injury in college, and Kraft has similar skills but played at the FCS level. Both can catch passes, but how well do they block? That skill is critical in LaFleur's run game.

Houston Texans
2022 record: 3-13-1

Biggest challenge: Getting the rookie QB/play-caller up to speed.

C.J. Stroud will have every opportunity to win the starting gig right away with an impressive training camp. He's a good rhythm passer with the ability to play outside the pocket, so it appears as if he'll be a nice fit in the Shanahan-steeped system new coordinator Bobby Slowik is expected to implement. But Slowik is a first-year play-caller, which likely means he and Stroud will experience some growing pains together -- especially considering the Texans have a less-than-complete group of pass catchers right now. Houston faces a few tougher challenges early in the season, so one key will be getting Stroud as up to speed as possible on all of the intricacies of the offense. The No. 2 overall pick needs to be at a point where he can think and play fast, ASAP.

Indianapolis Colts
2022 record: 4-12-1

Biggest challenge: Not putting too much on Anthony Richardson's plate early.

It undoubtedly will be tempting for Indianapolis to just hand the keys over to the No. 4 overall pick and see what the absurdly gifted QB can do. But the last thing the Colts want to do is bench Richardson if he struggles as a rookie, so it's entirely possible that Gardner Minshew wins the starting job out of the chute. Minshew worked with new Colts head coach Shane Steichen in Philly and started two games last season during the Eagles' run to the Super Bowl, so he might even be the Week 1 favorite. But the Colts also have to be itching to see how the 6-foot-4, 244-pound Richardson's immense skills can stress defenses, even if the 21-year-old only started one season at Florida. Finding the sweet spot for naming him the starter will be one of Steichen's most important challenges during his first season in the big chair.

Jacksonville Jaguars
2022 record: 9-8

Biggest challenge: Finding a consistent pass rush.

If there was a disappointing aspect of the Jaguars' offseason, it was the fact they didn't add more pass-rush help. Late last season -- and even in the thrilling wild-card win over the Chargers -- the Jags started getting consistent backfield pressure. But in the Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs, the pass rush vanished. Josh Allen and Travon Walker comprise a pretty alluring pair of edge rushers, but Walker still has plenty of room for growth, and there are few reliable pressure sources after those two. Perhaps rookie Yasir Abdullah can surprise, but the expectations for holdovers K'Lavon Chaisson and Jordan Smith to help fill that void have dwindled. Jacksonville has the makings of a decent defense, but this area bears watching.

Kansas City Chiefs
2022 record: 14-3

Biggest challenge: Unlocking the full potential of young receivers.

The Chiefs won the Super Bowl despite lacking a ton of firepower at receiver, but they will be even more dangerous if Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore develop the way the Chiefs think they can. Toney has a chance to assume major duties in his first full campaign with Kansas City. Many of his touches last season were schemed up while he was in a limited role after he came over via trade, so it will be fascinating to see what kind of a route tree Andy Reid will have him run with the benefit of a full offseason. Toney is an electric talent who could be lethal with Patrick Mahomes running the show, but the former first-round pick has to stay healthy. Moore struggled at times as a rookie, but both he and Toney scored touchdowns in the Super Bowl and appeared more confident by year's end. Rookie WR Rashee Rice also factors in as a wild-card option. TE Travis Kelce remains the big dog among the pass catchers in Kansas City, but that doesn't mean the young pups can't be well-fed this season, too.

Las Vegas Raiders
2022 record: 6-11

Biggest challenge: Managing two injury situations.

The two most important acquisitions of the Raiders' offseason, at least according to this scribe: free-agent QB Jimmy Garoppolo and first-round edge Tyree Wilson. Both could help change the trajectory of this team, but both dealt with foot issues this offseason. Garoppolo, in fact, has battled myriad injuries for years and nearly had his deal with the Raiders blown up when he initially failed his physical prior to both sides revising the terms of the contract. On the plus side, the 31-year-old QB did pass his physical last week, allowing him to start camp on the active roster. There might not be quite as much anxiety over Wilson's status, considering he's a rookie and the Raiders do have two established pass-rush vets in Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. But Jones struggled badly at times last season, so getting Wilson back up to game-ready speed is critical. Otherwise, the Raiders could struggle to stop some of the higher-octane offenses that dot their schedule this season.

Los Angeles Chargers
2022 record: 10-7

Biggest challenge: Finding reliable CB options.

This group could eventually end up being a team strength, but first the Chargers must overcome some potential roadblocks. The biggest one is with J.C. Jackson, who struggled badly last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. His rehab reportedly has gone well, but it could be imperative for the scheme (under new coordinator Derrick Ansley) to match Jackson's man-cover skill set in order for him to be most effective. Michael Davis and Asante Samuel Jr. both enjoyed high points in 2022 but also suffered some forgettable moments. Finding consistency has been elusive, even if both finished strong last season. Ja'Sir Taylor is an intriguing depth piece, but there aren't many sure things after him on the depth chart. Life in the AFC West can be pretty uncomfortable for defenses with shortcomings at cornerback. The Bolts will need all hands on deck this season.

Los Angeles Rams
2022 record: 5-12

Biggest challenge: Giving Aaron Donald help on defense.

Quick: Can you name two starting Rams defenders not named Aaron Donald? For that matter, can the Rams? They might have ideas about how their starting 11 could shake out by Week 1, but there's a lot to figure out between now and then. Forty of the 90 players on the Rams' roster are rookies, and several of them are on defense. Donald's decision to again forgo retirement was a huge development for Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, but Los Angeles must identify building blocks around the future Hall of Famer, especially on the defensive line. If AD's seeing even more tricked-up schemes to neutralize him, others must step up against single blocking. Bobby Brown III is one to watch, and rookies Byron Young, Kobie Turner and Desjuan Johnson could end up playing quite a few snaps in Year 1.

Miami Dolphins
2022 record: 9-8

Biggest challenge: Finding the best five on the O-line.

The Dolphins have thrown everything including the kitchen sink at the offensive line in recent years, but the results have been uneven. There are building blocks in Terron Armstead, Connor Williams and Robert Hunt, but how do the rest of the pieces fit together? Armstead is the left tackle, but the Dolphins could be forced to move Williams from center or Hunt from guard -- their best respective spots -- if others don't step up. Life would be a lot easier in Miami if former first-rounder Austin Jackson could live up to his immense potential following a mostly lost 2022 season. A good offensive line is a high priority for every football team, but it's especially critical for the Dolphins, considering QB Tua Tagovailoa's notable concussion and injury history.

Minnesota Vikings
2022 record: 13-4

Biggest challenge: Identifying playmakers on defense.

The Vikings won 13 games last season despite allowing the third-most points in the league and failing to generate enough splash plays. That led to the team bringing in Brian Flores to run this unit, and his past coaching success suggests he'll improve this group, one way or another. But how quickly will the improvement come? There are questions at all three levels after the Vikings let some talent walk and only spent limited resources upgrading the defense. There are some fixtures such as safety Harrison Smith, and new cornerback Byron Murphy figures to start. Still, questions remain up and down the defensive depth chart. Flores has plenty to figure out Year 1 and could do a lot of experimenting until he finds the right mix.

New England Patriots
2022 record: 8-9

Biggest challenge: Getting answers on Mac Jones.

This is Year 3 for Jones, which is typically the time when teams truly come to know whether a first-round QB is the answer or not. After a promising rookie season, Jones' 2022 struggles appeared to wash much of that hope away. Granted, New England caught a lot of flak for saddling the young signal-caller with a defensive-minded offensive play-caller in Matt Patricia. Bill O'Brien is back to clean up that mess and squeeze the most out of Jones' talent, but this isn't the most talented offense going. There should be enough skill-position juice to get by, but will the offensive line be capable enough? Jones really appeared to struggle when under pressure. Oh, and did I mention the Patriots face arguably the hardest schedule in the NFL this season?

New Orleans Saints
2022 record: 7-10

Biggest challenge: Finding a running mate for Chris Olave.

Olave is coming off a terrific rookie season and should be Derek Carr's favorite target from jump street. That part feels settled. The rest of the Saints' pass-catching group does not. Michael Thomas has played 10 games since his record-breaking 2019 season, and it's hard to know if he can ever regain consistent health or a dominant level again. What other WR options are there? Bryan Edwards had a few moments with Carr in Vegas, but they were fleeting, and Edwards did little last season. Rookie A.T. Perry could surprise a bit, and Rashid Shaheed flashed big-play ability in 2022. Perhaps there's help at tight end, where Juwan Johnson broke out last year, and Foster Moreau (if healthy) and Taysom Hill could add some value to the pass game.

New York Giants
2022 record: 9-7-1

Biggest challenge: Generating more big plays on offense.

The Giants could be without Saquon Barkley throughout camp, but if there's a bright side to that possibility, it's that it could force the team to work on the passing game -- and specifically, landing more big hitters downfield. The 2022 Giants ranked dead last in the NFL in pass plays of 20-plus yards with 28, and those limitations showed up late in the season a few times despite Big Blue turning the corner as a team. There are plenty of options at receiver, where 2022 breakout Isaiah Hodgins, 2023 third-rounder Jalin Hyatt and 2022 second-rounder Wan'Dale Robinson (coming off a torn ACL) have real promise. TE Darren Waller also figures to play a big role after coming over via trade. But it's clear someone needs to step up here; after all, Barkley led this team in targets a year ago.

UPDATE: NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday morning that Saquon Barkley and the Giants have agreed to a one-year contract worth up to $11 million.

New York Jets
2022 record: 7-10

Biggest challenge: Getting the most from the offensive line.

This is a unit that has been unsteady in Robert Saleh's tenure, but the pieces are there to field a very functional (if not quite good) offensive line in 2023. It just requires everything falling into place: health, fit and fitness. That last category specifically caters to Mekhi Becton, a talented wild card who could elevate this group. If he's truly trimmed down to stay and can regain some of the dominant flashes he showed as a rookie, the Jets could have some fun up front. There's also a battle at center between Connor McGovern and rookie Joe Tippmann, and the winner will have to be on his toes blocking and setting protections for Aaron Rodgers.

Philadelphia Eagles
2022 record: 14-3

Biggest challenge: Leaving camp confident in the LB group.

Linebacker might typically be lower on the importance list, position-wise, but it arguably serves as the biggest question mark on this hyper-talented roster. The hope is that 2022 third-rounder Nakobe Dean, who might have earned first-round consideration with a cleaner bill of health during the pre-draft process, can be the star of this unit. Dean was an undersized but highly instinctive playmaker at Georgia, and if he can stay off blocks in the NFL, he can have a similar impact on this Philly unit. The fact the Eagles plan to give him the green dot speaks to the team's hope being strong. Nicholas Morrow was an underrated tackling machine for the Bears last season, and he figures to be the other linebacker who primarily sees the field. But one injury could change this group dramatically. The other options -- Shaun Bradley, Davion Taylor and Christian Elliss -- haven't shown much to this point.

Pittsburgh Steelers
2022 record: 9-8

Biggest challenge: Firming up a revamped secondary.

There are some appealing elements of this Pittsburgh secondary, but there also are some questions that need answering. First-team All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (NFL-high six INTs) led a ballhawking group last season, but the loss of CB Cameron Sutton in free agency still stings. He likely will be replaced by Patrick Peterson, with second-rounder Joey Porter Jr. and Levi Wallace (four INTs last season) battling for reps on the other side. If Porter is ready for regular time right away, there's also a scenario where all three are on the field together, depending on who can handle slot duties. But the Steelers also have a battle at the non-Minkah safety spot between Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee, who play with two different styles. Neal is more of a box-safety enforcer, while Kazee is more fluid in coverage. Again, it's possible they'll all have extensive roles in this defense, but sorting everything out could take some time.

San Francisco 49ers
2022 record: 13-4

Biggest challenge: Handling the QB position.

The 49ers head into the 2023 campaign with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations ... but also a rather strange situation at the game's most important position. It's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, and Brock Purdy will get every chance to stave off Trey Lance for the starting job. But that's assuming Purdy is fully recovered from a significant elbow injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game -- and that there are no setbacks. How the 49ers handle Lance in the preseason will be fascinating. They signed Sam Darnold and also have Brandon Allen on the roster, so it makes you wonder if Lance (who cost San Francisco three first-round picks) remains in the long-term plans. This QB situation will be alluring to follow, both in the short and long terms.

Seattle Seahawks
2022 record: 9-8

Biggest challenge: Finding an offensive identity.

Geno Smith's breakout was one of the best feel-good stories of the 2022 season. In fact, at age 32, Smith not only earned himself a $105 million extension but also kept the Seahawks from using one of their two first-round picks on a possible successor. Interestingly, Seattle used one of those firsts on a wide receiver (Jaxon Smith-Njigba) and then grabbed a running back (Zach Charbonnet) in Round 2 after taking Kenneth Walker III in the second round of the 2022 draft. Pete Carroll will never not be a fan of the run game, but don't forget this team also has DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett each making eight-figure annual salaries, plus higher-round OT selections who are more natural pass blockers. Carroll and Shane Waldron figure to give Smith more chances to win games throwing the ball, but will they still be run-centric in crunch time? This isn't necessarily a bad problem to have, but the Seahawks must play to their strengths, not just their desired identity.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2022 record: 8-9

Biggest challenge: Choosing the QB who is best for right now.

It's possible that the Buccaneers see long-term promise in either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask -- or perhaps both. But in this league, it's a season-to-season mindset, and the reality is that the Bucs are in one of the weaker divisions in football. Their goal should be to try to steal the NFC South, of course, even if the reality is that neither of the starting options is guaranteed to be in the team's picture next year. In fact, I'd argue that even the QB who wins the job for Week 1 shouldn't feel too cozy; either one could have a short leash if the offense struggles. Todd Bowles might end up coaching for his job if things go south, so he shouldn't be afraid to have a quick hook if needed.

Tennessee Titans
2022 record: 7-10

Biggest challenge: Keeping their stars on the field.

The recent signing of DeAndre Hopkins -- for pretty decent money -- should give an indication of where Mike Vrabel's head is at. Whereas the Titans might have appeared to be halfway between rebuilding and reloading before, it became clear when they added Hopkins that Vrabel believes Tennessee can compete in the AFC South this season. But that likely requires the trio of Hopkins, Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill missing minimal games. All three have been bit by injuries in recent years and appear to be on the back nines of their respective careers. Perhaps it can all come together this season in Nashville, especially if the Colts' and Texans' rebuilds take time. But that will require Vrabel being very smart with the veteran trio's workload and keeping everyone on the field.

Washington Commanders
2022 record: 8-8-1

Biggest challenge: Getting the ball into the receivers' hands.

The Commanders' offensive superpower is at wide receiver. They're in great hands with Terry McLaurin being a true No. 1, Jahan Dotson leading all rookies in TD catches last season despite missing time with injury, and Curtis Samuel reminding people in 2022 that he still can play. One way or another, the Commanders must choose the quarterback -- Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett -- who gives them the best chance to consistently feed this trio and give the pass catchers the longest, clearest runways to make plays. Howell might be the better deep-ball thrower, while Brissett could be more accurate underneath. New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy faces a fascinating battle there to accomplish his goals, but coming from Kansas City -- where he and Andy Reid were among the most creative ball distributors in the league together -- likely will serve him well in Washington.

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