Change or be left behind.
The 20 teams out of the playoffs - even those with winning records - face serious challenges if they want to be playing deep into next January. Five of those teams, maybe more, must fill coaching vacancies, and some have holes in the front office. Others need to look at incumbent players at key positions and perhaps even the backups.
Here are some suggestions how to fix those ills, in projected draft order.
MINNESOTA - Shore up the secondary, which is priority No. 1. Settle on a new stadium site is priority No. 2. Find a left tackle to pass protect. Keep a close eye on Adrian Peterson's recovery from a serious left knee injury.
CLEVELAND - Bolster an abysmal offense that scored more points than only the Missouri teams. Eliminate all the drama that surrounded Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy, who might not be the top choice at QB. Find a way to slow down opposing running games.
TAMPA BAY - The new coach has to rekindle the spirit of a team that didn't seem to care or try particularly hard in recent weeks. With so many young players, the Bucs need a strong guiding hand. They also need to figure out how to stop the run and improve overall defensively.
WASHINGTON - Things aren't as dire in the nation's capital as elsewhere. Mike Shanahan wants a strong running game and has the makings of one with youngsters Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Tim Hightower. But is Rex Grossman the right QB? And they had two players suspended for violating the league's drug policy, Fred Davis and Trent Williams. What to do with them?
MIAMI - Owner Stephen Ross would like to make a big splash in his coaching hire, which is why he reached out quickly to Jeff Fisher. Miami isn't that far away from contention, but it has to get more takeaways and improve in the passing game on offense and defense. Is Matt Moore the quarterback to run the offense? More likely, he's a better fit as the backup.
BUFFALO - Other than Chicago and Kansas City, no team was more devastated by injuries than the Bills. When versatile RB Fred Jackson went down, the offense stalled. Only New England forced more turnovers in the AFC, but Buffalo didn't protect the ball well enough, winding up only plus-1 in turnover margin.
ARIZONA - Here's another team with QB questions, but in a nice way because coach Ken Whisenhunt believes both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are winners. Finding another stud receiver to go with Larry Fitzgerald and getting more out of TE Todd Heap would help. The defense is coming on, but had only 10 interceptions.
DALLAS - It's time to re-evaluate the talent in Big D, particularly on defense. The secondary needs revamping, and the front seven has declined, except for DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee. The Cowboys make too many errors, especially late in close games. Tony Romo needs to be more careful in those situations.
PHILADELPHIA - Finding cohesiveness, which seemed to happen as the Eagles won their final four games. Lowering expectations would help, too. On the field, the defense has to step up against the run and the Eagles can't survive another 38 turnovers. Michael Vick has to stay healthy. The team might have to replace disappointing WR DeSean Jackson and CB Asante Samuel.
NEW YORK JETS - Rex Ryan should not change his personality or coaching style - players see through any phoniness - but he should tone down the rhetoric. A backup QB to push Mark Sanchez would help, and stronger leadership on offense would, too, particularly if LaDainian Tomlinson leaves. A pass rush less reliant on the blitz is needed, as are more reliable receivers.
OAKLAND - Fix the defense. Cut down the penalties; Oakland set a league record in 2011. Find CBs who can cover. Develop the young receiving corps. Find out if RB Darren McFadden can stay healthy for a full season. Oh, and hire a "football guy" to run the front office in the wake of Al Davis' death.
CHICAGO - Upgrade the depth so injuries don't destroy the next season. Watch for telltale signs of the defense getting older. Retool the offense, making it less complicated and more suited to QB Jay Cutler's skills. Improve the secondary's pass coverage.