Heading into training camps, all 32 NFL teams have essentially taken shape. So before injuries, benchings, firings, (more) suspensions and hot streaks start shaping the 2016 season, here's USA TODAY Sports' annual projection of how the season will unfold with record projections for each team based on picking all 256 games, plus a bonus playoff forecast.
Atlanta Falcons (7-9): QB Matt Ryan and the defense must be far more effective after an up (6-1 start) and down (2-7 finish) 2015. Road games in Oakland, Denver and Seattle suggest Atlanta might still be a year away.
New Orleans Saints (7-9): The offense is always a top-five outfit under coach
NFC EASTNew York Giants (9-7): This division is wide open, but New York could be poised to make a significant jump. A defense that ranked last in 2015 received a $200 million upgrade and three of the club's first four draft picks after the Giants lost five games they led in the final minutes. But the D may only need be serviceable if new head coach
Dallas Cowboys (9-7): They're banking on the offense to return to its 2014 form with QB
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): They junked the three-year
Minnesota Vikings (11-5): U.S. Bank Stadium should feature a formidable team for its inaugural season. Expect the Vikings, and especially a potentially dominant defense, to improve overall in 2016 even if they don't manage to retain the NFC North crown.
Chicago Bears (7-9): Coach John Fox's track record suggests a four- to five-win improvement in his second season. This defense could mature into a scary bunch now that 3-4 scheme has taken root and has the personnel to execute it. But there seem to be too many issues on offense for the Bear to make a playoff push.
Detroit Lions (7-9): They were one of the league's best teams in the second half of 2015 after a 1-7 start. But they'll likely have to embrace a difficult philosophical shift as they embark on life after
Arizona Cardinals (12-4): If you're looking for a weakness, good luck - especially with
Buffalo Bills (8-8): They'll have the final shot at Brady-less Patriots in Week 4 as they enter potentially crucial stretch of five roadies in seven-game stretch. Survive that, and perhaps they'll finally be playoff bound for first time in the 21st century.
New York Jets (8-8): Regardless of who's under center, they face an uphill climb with the Bengals, Bills, Chiefs, Seahawks, Steelers and Cardinals the first six opponents on the schedule. And unlike the Bills and Dolphins, the Jets will draw (a presumably highly motivated) Brady twice in the regular season.
Miami Dolphins (7-9): A new regime opens with September road games at Seattle, New England and Cincinnati. Not an easy way for rookie head coach
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Little reason to believe they won't reach the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, especially if a healthy
Baltimore Ravens (9-7): They've only missed the playoffs twice in eight years under
Cleveland Browns (1-15): It will be a while before the analytics bear fruit, and this year's crop does not look promising.
Houston Texans (9-7): Coach Bill O'Brien finally seems to have the full suite of offensive weapons he could have only dreamed of in his first two seasons. Houston will probably need new QB
Indianapolis Colts (8-8): Owner
Oakland Raiders (10-6): Despite their unsettled civic situation, the arrow seems to be pointing decidedly up in a division where the Broncos look primed for a fall. The Raiders face only one 2015 playoff team in the first half of this season and have a golden opportunity for a hot start.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-7): Reintegrating RB
Wild card: (3) Raiders def. (6) Jaguars; (4) Texans def. (5) Bengals
Divisional: (2) Patriots def. (3) Raiders; (1) Steelers def. (4) Texans
AFC Championship Game: (1) Steelers def. (2) Patriots
Wild card: (3) Panthers def. (6) Vikings, (5) Seahawks def. (4) Giants
Divisional: (1) Cardinals def. (5) Seahawks; (2) Packers def. (3) Panthers
NFC Championship Game: (1) Cardinals def. (2) Packers
Super Bowl LI: Steelers def. Cardinals