Taking his off the field troubles out of the mix for a second, with the state of the O-line and big question marks at WR, I would've pegged this team as a 9 or 10 win team, at best. So, chopping it down a game or two because of it feels about right.
Well, that's part of it, sure.
I'll agree that the WRs are a mystery. If Wallace can be a consistent threat and Ward stays healthy and Heat is Heat, OK, maybe the mix at WR3-5 (ARE, the rooks) won't have much play: say, Sanders comes in for some splash packages late in the season, after getting acclimated a bit more.
The OL should be no worse than the last couple of years. Hotel's just an older, wily vet version of Colonic. But getting Hartwig out of the middle should help improve the C spot, and by osmosis, both Gs. The weakest spot will be Essex, IMO. Overall, I expect slight improvements in both run blocking and pass pro, but that might be enough to translate to a 1.5% sack rate drop (~Seattle, Detroit), and about 0.10 adjusted line yards per carry (~Jax). That would put us ~11th in run blocking and ~20th in pass blocking; Ben figures into that latter, by style, but I don't expect any stat bump for pass pro from DD.
The big oversight here is the reversion toward the mean on defense: no guarantee Pola and Smith can stay healthy all season, and still don't have backups anywhere close to their level of play. (Although Will Allen is a huge upgrade over Carter, on early results.) But the team that forgot to show for the 4Q last year, and lost I-don't-wanna-think-about how many close games to suckass teams, will have more fire in their belly to swing those games back to the W side.
Also have to consider who we play.
Cinci, IMO, is getting way too much love, as is Balty. Cinci: Palmer hasn't looked the same, old WRs, but good D and running game; bad team dynamic, tend to come back to earth after big seasons. Balty: secondary is a fucking mess, no Ed Reed early will hurt them, probably will be in early season shoot-outs, need to get healthy quickly. Tend to play their best against us. Cleveland: uh, no.
NE and NO will be tough matchups. Miami and NYJ are OK, but winnable.
Elsewhere in the AFC: Indy has OL issues, but should be about where they've been. Houston needs their D to step up, which I'll believe when I see, but their O could rattle Indy. AFCW is a total shithole. Leaves Indy, NE, Balty as top level contenders, maybe; NYJ, Miami, Cinci, Houston, SD, and maybe Denver a bit back, maybe; not much else.
Whose defense is better?
It comes down to the same subject: staying healthy. Teams that go on a good run are, and no way to predict that.