New York Jets - Well that didn't take long, did it? In just two seasons, coach Bill Parcells took a team that was 1-15, the laughingstock of the NFL, and transformed it into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Jets actually led the Broncos in the 1998 AFC Championship Game before disaster struck in the form of John Elway, Terrell Davis and six total Jet turnovers. Behind the aerial attack of Vinny Testaverde and Keyshawn Johnson and the running of Curtis Martin, the Jets will find themselves in the AFC Championship Game once again in 1999. If they learned from their mistakes, they'll give Jets fans their first Super Bowl win since 1969.
Miami Dolphins - When Jimmy Johnson was coach at the University of Miami, it was blatantly obvious that moral character was not high on his list of priorities when selecting players. At least he's consistent. Johnson once joked that he would draft Charles Manson if he could run the 40-yard dash in 4.4. After trying his luck with the troubled Lawrence Phillips last season, Johnson decided to gamble on legally-challenged rookie running back Cecil Collins and wide receiver Tony Martin, recently acquitted of money laundering charges. While you may not agree with his methods, the results will be there this year.
New England Patriots - While the Jets have remarkably improved since Parcells chose them over the Patriots in 1996, the Patriots have been steadily on the decline. Despite receiving numerous draft picks from the Jets when Parcells left and took running back Martin with him, New England has gone from 11-5 to 10-6 to 9-7 over the past three seasons. Injuries to top running back Robert Edwards, receiver Terry Glenn and defensive anchor Ted Johnson have destroyed the team's Super Bowl hopes. That being said, if Glenn can remain healthy and the team can muster an effective ground game from rookie Kevin Faulk and veteran Terry Allen, this is still a playoff team.
Buffalo Bills - If you're not a Flutie-backer by now, you never will be. The diminutive former CFL-star wrestled the starting QB role from the younger Rob Johnson early last season, and in the process, revitalized the team and the city. Behind the defense led by Bruce Smith, still one of the league's best linemen, and the offensive tandem of Flutie and receiver Eric Moulds, the Bills will stay competitive and above .500 all season.
Indianapolis Colts - Second-year quarterback Peyton Manning and rookie running back Edgerrin James will make the Colts the best last-place team in the NFL. Those two youngsters and emerging superstar receiver Marvin Harrison will be offensive cornerstones in Indianapolis for years to come. Coach Jim Mora has also come a long way in revamping the once-pathetic defense. Perhaps the only thing they have going against them is that they happen to play in the most talented division in the league. They'll be a whole lot better than their 3-13 mark of a year ago and should be over the .500 mark by the 2000 season.