New England Patriots 11-5
Buffalo Bills 7-9
New York Jets 6-10
Miami Dolphins 3-13
This division is an easy one to predict. The Patriots will win the AFC East, they have the coach and quarterback in this division. With the Bills and Jets attempting to develop their young QBs, there should be expectations of growing pains for at least one more year. It’s my belief that the Bills team is a bit ahead of the Jets at this point. For both the Bills and the Jets, the goal should be developing their teams enough to challenge New England next year.
The Dolphins are seemingly going through a complete rebuild and will have to figure out what they want to do at QB for the future. I personally like Josh Rosen, however, I’m not sure if he is a QB that can carry a team, especially a bad one. The Dolphins one chance at a semi-successful season is for Josh Rosen to show the ability that made him a top 10 pick in 2018.
This is a division that is going through a paradigm shift. Realistically, I could make a compelling case for either the Browns, Ravens, and Steelers to win this division. I went with the Browns because of they possess the most talented team in this division. The have just about all of the pieces to the puzzle, the question is whether they can put it all together in year one. It’s my belief they can, at least in the regular season.
I have the Ravens as a wild card, the reason I don’t have them winning this division is Lamar Jackson. His development as a passer will dictate whether the Ravens win this division, make the playoffs, or flame out this year. I believe in the talent of Lamar Jackson, but I’m unsure if he will take a big enough leap as passer this year for the Ravens to improve exponentially on offense. The Steelers have winning pedigree, but it feels like that team is at the end. If they don’t make the playoffs this year, we may see this team go through a bit of rebuilding process.
This division is more competitive than it’s been the last few years and we are seeing a change at the top. Lastly, the Bengals could be okay, but it’s hard to tell because they have so many unknowns. I see their season going south as they lack talent and direction. This is the first time I could see the Bengals moving away from Andy Dalton, especially if a slow start comes.
This may be the toughest division to predict in the NFL. A case could be made for any one of these four teams to win this division. The Jags believe they have a QB who won’t be a liability. The Titans were 9-7 last year with Blaine Gabbert starting multiple games. The Colts were one of the hottest teams in the 2nd half of the regular season last year. The Texans won this division last year and Deshaun Watson could be poised to have breakout year.
I think the Jaguars have more issues than just QB, to me it seemed like they had coaching and chemistry issues last year. They also lack talent on offense, which is the opposite of what Nick Foles had with the Eagles.
I have the Titans in the playoffs, I thought Mike Vrabel did a decent job in his first year as coach. Let’s not forget, in week 17 of last year, they played the Colts at home with a spot for the playoffs on the line. The biggest reason they lost that game was because Mariota was hurt and Blaine Gabbert was forced in to playing. As we all know, if Blaine Gabbert is your QB, you’re probably going to lose. I think Ryan Tannehill is capable enough as backup. He was fairly average starter with the Dolphins, but I don’ think it’s that big of a drop off between Tannehill and Mariota. I think he will be the difference between winning and losing that one or two games or maybe Mariota stays healthy for once. For Mariota, this is a contract year and if he doesn’t stay healthy, I don’t know how or what would make the Titans extend him.
I see the Colts taking a bit of a step back, mostly because their division improved and I felt they overachieved last year. The AFC was down and they got hot in the 2nd half of the season last year. I thought you could see a bit of the talent gap when the played KC in the divisional round last year. If the Colts are going to improve off of last year, they also will need Andrew Luck to stay healthy once again. I have the Texans winning the AFC South and I am not overly confident about it. I’m not a fan of Bill O’Brien and he’s acting as their GM, which worries me quiet a bit. They also lost some pieces on defense and have an offensive line and that could get their QB injured again. The sole reason I have the Texans winning this division is because I believe Deshaun Watson will take the next step and become one of the NFL’s top QBs.
I think the Chiefs have done enough to improve their defense. I don’t think it will be great by any means, but I do believe they have done enough to improve the defense. Steve Spagnuolo’s defenses have been up and down at times, but they typically make improvements in his first year. This happened with both of his stints as Giants defensive coordinator.
I think the Chargers take a step back this year. I think they were the biggest benefactor of a down AFC last year. They played the Chiefs twice and the Patriots once and I felt they were the lesser team in all of those games, even though they won at Arrowhead on Thursday Night Football. The Chargers are talked about as a young team when they have a QB who was in the same draft class as Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Both of whom are seemingly making their way towards the end of the road. Yes, the Chargers have talent and Rivers is still playing good football, but I saw enough problems that I don’t see them replicating their success this year.
Lastly, the Raiders and the Broncos, the main issue I see with both teams is that neither has their QB of the future or in the Broncos case, it could be a while before we find out if Drew Lock could be.
The Raiders signed a lot of guys on offense and it’s all up to Derek Carr and Jon Gruden for them to make any type of improvement. It’s my opinion that if we see struggles for the Raiders this year, we will see a change at QB next year. When it comes to the Broncos it’s a matter of when with Drew Lock. I don’t think Flacco has a lot left in the tank, I think we see Lock at some point and we’ll see if he could be an option at QB for the Broncos next year and maybe long term.
Ravens @ Browns – Winner: Browns
Titans @ Texans – Winner: Texans
Texans @ Chiefs – Winner: Chiefs
Browns @ Patriots – Winner: Patriots
AFC Championship Game:
Patriots @ Chiefs – Winner: Chiefs
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