NFL Cheat Sheet: Quick guide to the 2013 season
Essential facts for all 32 teams
The new NFL season kicks off Thursday night with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens visiting the Denver Broncos at Mile High, followed by a full slate of games Sunday and Monday night.
Not caught up on the major storylines for 2013? No problem. Read these one-liners on all 32 teams and you'll sound like a seasoned pro around the water cooler.
Buffalo Bills: Hope rookie E.J. Manuel can become their first long-term QB solution since Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season.
Miami Dolphins: Free-agent receiver Mike Wallace gives second-year QB Ryan Tannehill a speedy weapon in the fight against the bust label.
New England Patriots: Surgery (Rob Gronkowski) and a murder charge (Aaron Hernandez) brought down their revolutionary two-tight-end offence, but coach Bill Belichick (with help from QB Tom Brady) always thinks of something.
New York Jets: Speaking of busts, second-round pick Geno Smith looks to prove the doubters wrong as he supplants Mark Sanchez in what may be colourful coach Rex Ryan's last stand.
Baltimore Ravens: Super Bowl champs had to retool their renowned defence after the departures of longtime cornerstones Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
Cincinnati Bengals: Erstwhile doormats now going for their third straight playoff appearance with underrated interior pass rusher Geno Atkins and star receiver A.J. Green.
Cleveland Browns: New coach Rob Chudzinski is the latest to try turning around a team with one playoff appearance since its reincarnation in 1999.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Rust never sleeps, and it's eating away at the Steelers' aging defence.
Houston Texans: Defensive player of the year J.J. Watt (20.5 sacks) anchors a strong defence, but star running back Arian Foster's yards per carry have declined in each of the last two years.
Indianapolis Colts: Luck (QB Andrew passed for a rookie-record 4,374 yards) and luck (4-0 record in games decided by a field goal or less) pushed Indy to a surprise playoff berth, but good fortune can't last forever.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Year 3 of the Blaine Gabbert Era at QB. For some reason.
Tennessee Titans: Overhauled the offensive line in hopes of sparking underperforming tailback Chris Johnson and erratic young QB Jake Locker.
Denver Broncos: Perennial MVP candidate Peyton Manning has a new toy in receiver Wes Welker, but the Broncos' vaunted pass rush may struggle without Von Miller (suspended for the first six games) and Elvis Dumervil (signed with Baltimore).
Kansas City Chiefs: League's worst team in 2012 made big upgrades at head coach and quarterback, with offensive guru Andy Reid replacing clueless Romeo Crennel and efficient passer Alex Smith supplanting the overmatched Matt Cassel/Brady Quinn combo.
Oakland Raiders: Unproven Terrelle Pryor takes over at QB on a talent-devoid roster that's the early favourite to land the No. 1 overall draft pick.
San Diego Chargers: Maligned coach Norv Turner finally got the boot, so it's up to ex-Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to revive QB Philip Rivers' career.
Dallas Cowboys: Many fans would have been happy to see mistake-prone QB Tony Romo go, but he's back with a new $108-million US contract after passing for a career-high 4,903 yards.
New York Giants: Haven't had a losing season since 2004, the year before Eli Manning became the full-time starting QB.
Philadelphia Eagles: New coach Chip Kelly brings his innovative, frantic attack from the college ranks, hoping to restore a 4-12 team to playoff contention in a wide-open division.
Washington Redskins: Electrifying second-year QB Robert Griffin III looks to prove his slight frame (and surgically repaired knee) can handle the physically demanding read-option attack he was born to run.
Chicago Bears: CFL alum Marc Trestman promises to introduce more aerial elements to the offence in his first year as coach, and maybe inject new life into whipping-boy QB Jay Cutler.
Detroit Lions: The bizarro-Colts lost several close games last year as they took a step back from 2011's playoff appearance, but Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the game and QB Matthew Stafford can get him the ball.
Green Bay Packers: Trendy Super Bowl pick heading into last year's playoffs until the defence was humiliated by Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers, but will always be among the favourites with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson defied all the experts (football and medical) by nearly breaking the single-season rushing record on a surgically repaired knee, and he may need to repeat that miracle for the Vikings to earn another surprise playoff berth.
Atlanta Falcons: QB Matt Ryan silenced his critics with a playoff win before coming up just yards short of a Super Bowl berth, but it'll be hard to duplicate a lot of the lucky wins along the way.
Carolina Panthers: A balanced team with an underrated defence and multitalented QB Cam Newton entering his third year, but head coach Ron Rivera's in-game decisions cost his team wins.
New Orleans Saints: Ace play caller Sean Payton is back as head coach after his one-year Bountygate suspension, and all-world QB Drew Brees leads a nearly unstoppable offence that must put up big points to overcome a leaky defence.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Added Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson to fortify a porous defensive secondary, and the offence could improve if Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph are healthy.
Arizona Cardinals: Top-shelf cornerback Patrick Peterson anchors a strong defence, and the offence has nowhere to go but up with serviceable Carson Palmer replacing the horrendous Skelton/Kolb/Lindley trio.
San Francisco 49ers: Mobile QB Colin Kaepernick is set for his first full season at the helm of the Niners' trendy read-option attack, but brilliant coach Jim Harbaugh will have to mask the NFC champs' dearth of receivers.
Seattle Seahawks: Second-year QB Russell Wilson is a star in the making, and rangy cornerback Richard Sherman is the heart and soul (and mouth) of a fine defence that enjoys the biggest home-field advantage in the league.
St. Louis Rams: Fifty-two sacks last year tied them for tops in the league, but the NFL's youngest team needs fourth-year QB Sam Bradford to step up in order to compete in this tough division.