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One thing each AFC team can do to hit Super Bowl LII

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With Super Bowl LI nearly upon us, 30 teams already have begun the effort to reach Minneapolis next February for Super Bowl LII. Here's one thing each AFC team can do to help the cause of displacing the New England Patriots as conference champions.

Baltimore Ravens: Find a pass rusher.

Terrell Suggs is nearing the end of the line and Elvis Dumervil looks like a potential salary-cap casualty. While the team's cornerback position is in dire straits, a strong pass rush and safety Eric Weddle could cover up problems there. The retirement of inside linebacker Zachary Orr kicked off this Baltimore offseason on a somber note, especially for a team that needs more young defenders to emerge as Ravens torchbearers.

Buffalo Bills: Find a starting quarterback (ideally the one already there).

General manager Doug Whaley's lack of appreciation for quarterback Tyrod Taylor is as confounding as Bills ownership's appreciation of Whaley. New coach Sean McDermott has some talent to work with on both sides of the ball, but Buffalo's strange flirtation with dumping Taylor without an obvious replacement threatens to sink this team back into 4-12.

Taylor has his limitations, but he's performed like a league-average starter the last two seasons. That has value, and he's an intriguing fit for new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison's Kubiak-style offense. Taylor played under Dennison in Baltimore and the Broncos tried to sign Tyrod to back up Peyton Manning in 2015, when Dennison was in Denver. The Bills are a sneaky candidate to overspend on Tony Romo this offseason, but keeping the quarterback they have provides a far clearer path to 2017 relevance.

Cincinnati Bengals: Find Carlos Dunlap a tag-team partner.

The Bengals were too easy to block last season. This is a team that could say goodbye to a lot of longtime veterans this offseason (Andrew Whitworth, Adam Jones, Michael Johnson, Domata Peko, Rey Maualuga), and personnel man Duke Tobin could use some young players who provide instant impact. This is not an organization that traditionally spends big in free agency, so the Bengals likely will look to the draft to find a bookend pass rusher to pair with veteran Carlos Dunlap.

Cleveland Browns: Trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Time will tell if the Browns erred in passing on Carson Wentz. Without an obvious candidate to draft at No. 1 overall this season, Hue Jackson's best chance to find his quarterback of the future will be via trade. Tyrod Taylor could be an intriguing target, but a better bet would be Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The two teams already proved they like doing business together in two trades involving Jamie Collins and Barkevious Mingo last year.

The Browns have a surplus of draft picks to make a deal happen, including the No. 12 overall selection (acquired from Philadelphia in the trade that allowed the Eagles to draft Wentz). Garoppolo's skill set and brief NFL tape are promising. His experience as a fourth-year NFL player allows for a faster learning curve. The Browns need to take a swing at the position every season until they finally find a long-term answer and can't afford to spin their wheels for another year.

Denver Broncos: Fix the offensive tackle position.

The Tony Romo maneuvering has already begun. Ignore the tuxedo picture and look closer at the report from KUSA's Mike Klis, who writes that the Broncos would only be open to signing Romo if he was a free agent (rather than trading for him).

Whether that report is a negotiating ploy or not remains to be seen. I'd like to think it's an admission that getting Romo would be nice, but quarterback isn't Denver's biggest need. Romo wouldn't survive one month playing behind Denver's awful offensive line (especially at the tackle position). Trevor Siemian could be a keeper if he gets more support, while last year's first-round pick, Paxton Lynch, might be a better fit for new coordinator Mike McCoy's system. The uncertainty at quarterback has helped John Elway get off the hook for struggling to solve his pass-protection woes for two years running.

Houston Texans: Draft a quarterback of the future.

In 11 seasons at the helm, general manager Rick Smith has never drafted a quarterback in the first three rounds. That streak should end this year, providing coach Bill O'Brien another young arm to work with and some hope for Houston to escape its vicious quarterback cycle. With Brock Osweiler's contract making it nearly impossible to dump him this offseason, Tom Savage could be the team's best chance at reaching Super Bowl LII. But the Texans need to think beyond 2017, adding alternative options for future years because Smith clearly hasn't identified The Guy yet.

Indianapolis Colts: Find blue-chip talent on defense.

This "one thing to improve" is cheating, because it encompasses so many things that former general manager Ryan Grigson couldn't accomplish in his tenure. Andrew Luck's oft-cited "lack of support" starts with needing to score 30 points to keep up with Indy's defense. Coach Chuck Pagano deserves part of the blame here, but try to name the Colts defensive talent acquired in the last five years who was a true difference maker, other than cornerback Vontae Davis. New GM Chris Ballard shouldn't be shy taking a chance in free agency (Jason Pierre-Paul? Melvin Ingram?) and in the draft to find lasting defensive pieces for Pagano -- or whoever is coaching the team in 2018.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Pray that magical thinking in Blake Bortles pays off.

Jacksonville's steadfast belief in Bortles is one of the most surprising early developments of the 2017 offseason. The team retained coach Doug Marrone in part because of Bortles' improved play under the interim boss in two meaningless games. General manager Dave Caldwell said recently the Jaguars "can win a Super Bowl" with Bortles at the helm. Caldwell and Marrone's future are tied to being right in this magical thinking following Bortles' disastrous 2016 campaign. This attitude sounds more like hope than strategy, but it's what the Jaguars are rolling with.

Kansas City Chiefs: Get bold at quarterback.

It's so unfair to blame the Chiefs' stalled progress on Alex Smith, but I'm going to do it anyway. Kansas City should be open to getting better at the position, whether it comes in the form of a gutsy trade (Tony Romo? Jimmy Garoppolo?) or a draft pick to develop. With two relatively affordable years left on his contract, Smith is not a problem for the Chiefs -- or a solution. He would be a tradeable asset or a good mentor for his eventual replacement. Smith knows better than anyone the NFL isn't about fairness.

Los Angeles Chargers: Start over on the offensive line.

Promising new coach Anthony Lynn retained offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt in a laudable bid for continuity. But the last thing the Chargers' dreadful offensive line needs is more of the same. Failing to protect Philip Rivers is a black mark on general manager Tom Telesco's record.

The organization blamed its 2015 season on O-line injuries, yet the relatively healthy group finished ranked No. 31 by Pro Football Focus in 2016. Beyond center Matt Slauson, the rest of the linemen are candidates for release, including left tackle King Dunlap. This line and a loaded AFC West are the biggest obstacles to the Chargers returning to the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins: Get younger in the front seven.

Conventional wisdom suggests the Dolphins will invest every resource possible into answering the immortal South Florida question: Is Ryan Tannehill good enough?

That could be missing the point. After five seasons, Tannehill is clearly not the type of quarterback who can carry a lousy defense. The team's playoff berth hid that Miami's defense was mostly poor in 2016, with an aging roster that has few up-and-coming players. Dolphins impresario Mike Tannenbaum is never shy spending free agency money, and he could be looking for two new starters at linebacker, a position repeatedly exposed when the Dolphins played quality AFC competition. Finding a young pass rusher or two -- between the draft and free agency -- should also be a priority for a team that can't expect Cameron Wake to be superhuman forever.

New York Jets: Avoid short-term thinking.

The Jets' only path to an eventual Super Bowl appearance is to banish the notion they are anywhere close. Under owner Woody Johnson, the organization has repeated the same pattern of hiring hotshot young coaches who make the playoffs, crash back to Earth and then get fired for it. The Jets need to stop their cycle of chasing one-off 10-win seasons and finally stick with one plan for more than three years.

General manager Mike Maccagnan's quick fixes worked for 2015, but this is a roster in disrepair -- even without considering the team's bankrupt quarterback position. Maccagnan needs time to execute his vision, and coach Todd Bowles can't be expected to win right away with this roster. The Jets must nail their draft picks, find some puzzle pieces in free agency and clone Leonard Williams. Oh, and somehow acquire a quarterback who won't ruin it all. Should be simple!

Oakland Raiders: Handle success with a potential move to Las Vegas in the distance.

Derek Carr's broken leg was a crushing end to the most thrilling Raiders season since their last Super Bowl berth. General manager Reggie McKenzie will have roster tinkering to do at middle linebacker and throughout the roster, but he is building from a strong, young base. This team's biggest obstacle is more metaphysical.

The Raiders are a young group that will be dealing with success and expectations for the first time, just as the franchise potentially plans a move to Las Vegas. It's anyone's guess how Raider Nation will react in the Bay Area to a possible move, and the pressure on the Raiders to win big before they leave will be immense.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Keep Martavis Bryant on the righteous path.

It didn't feel like it on the night of the AFC Championship Game, but this Steelers squad is close to the organization's seventh Super Bowl title. The defense finally has turned over to a young crop of players who should improve together. This Roethlisberger-Bell-Brown trifecta has limited time to perform magic feats together, especially with Big Ben shaping up to be his generation's Brett Favre. (At least, in the offseason.)

The return of receiver Martavis Bryant is the final ingredient to a truly special offensive group. Suspended for the 2016 season because of drug abuse, Bryant hasn't been shy posting glamour shots on Instagram of his bulked-up physique. (He's apparently up to 228 pounds.) Keeping Bryant on the straight-and-narrow alongside a healthy Brown for an entire season would create impossible matchup problems for defenses to solve.

Tennessee Titans: Reload in the secondary.

Before Marcus Mariota broke his leg in Week 16, the Titans' secondary was well on its way toward coughing up Tennessee's playoff chances. The Titans' ability to make Blake Bortles look like John Elway might wind up being a positive, though. It clarified Tennessee's biggest offseason need and provided a division rival inspiration to spend another year in quarterback purgatory. The Titans rotated cornerbacks all season, searching for a passable combination, and couldn't find anything that stuck. They liked 2016 rookie safety Kevin Byard and cornerback LeShaun Sims, but everyone else, including stalwart Jason McCourty, could be replaceable.

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