I am normally more of a ‘wait and see’ kind of guy, but I figured what the heck, everyone else is doing it… So here are my predictions for the entire AFC.
The Patriots are still the Patriots. Tom Brady is back from injury, Bellicheck is still the coach, and can anyone give me a legit reason why the Pats won’t win the East? (barring injuries)
The Fins are really hard to pick this year. It seems like most surprise teams usually have a down year the next but to be honest I don’t see much difference between the Dolphins, Jets and Bills, as all have similar talent. I think second place in the East will probably come down to the division games and possible even a big play or two in those games. In my mind the Dolphins are more likely to convert those big plays (slightly).
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco made rookie QB’s look good last year and we all know that is not the norm. I don’t think Mark Sanchez will do bad but I don’t think he will do that good either, but he does have enough talent around him (offensive line and rushing attack) to hover around 8-8 (give or take).
The Bills (similar to the Chiefs) fired their OC during the preseason and will now rely on the head coach to call the plays and I for one don’t really like this idea. I would look for the Bills to make or break their season in the early on. If they lose a few close games early on things could start to turn ugly (esp with T.O. on board) but that door swings both ways, a few good wins at the beginning of the year and this team could challenge for number two in the East.
The Super Bowl champs are one of the most offensively and defensively balanced teams in the NFL and that is the reason I picked them to win the North over Baltimore. What I mean by that is the Steelers can beat you with offense, defense, or even special teams.
The Ravens defense is still VERY good and can be downright nasty at times but I am still not convinced that they could win a game with their offense if they needed to, which is why I gave the North to the Steelers. The Ravens should still be a lock for the playoffs.
I would love to see Carson Palmer have a great bounce back year but I am not convinced that the Bengals offensive line could support this.
When the Browns stop being the Browns someone please let me know.
The Colts may have lost a HOF coach in Tony Dungy along with WR Marvin Harrison but new head coach Jim Caldwell has worked with Peyton Manning for what, 20 years? Seriously Peyton Manning is still the QB of this team and we all know this is a QB driven league. I wouldn’t worry too much about Harrison either as the Colts have shown time and time again they know the right time to let a player go. My only concern with this team is how much Dungy leaving will effect the defense, but either way they still have enough in them to win the division.
The Titans remind me a lot of the Ravens, they will beat you with their defense. If it comes down to it do you trust Kerry Collins to carry your team? Although with with the Titans rushing offense you may not have to worry about Collins.
Why all the hype surrounding the Texans this season? I don’t see how they have improved enough to beat out the Titans and Colts for tops in the South as many are predicting. Yes they are a very talented team on both offense and defense but for the last few years the Texans have been the trendy pick and until they prove otherwise I will keep them below the Colts and Titans.
The Jags… I am not sure what to say about them. They are obviously not happy with their QB play as they have been linked to many of this off season’s QB talks but unable to upgrade at the position. Sorry Jags, this just isn’t your year.
If the Chargers don’t win the West it isn’t because of lack of talent. LT is looking to make a return to the top tier of running backs, but even if he doesn’t they still have have Darren Sproles. Phillip Rivers is bound to have a little bit of a let down this year after a superb 2008 but even a small let down would still be a great year. The best thing going for the Chargers is that they play in the West as no one really has any expectations for the Chiefs, Raiders and Broncos.
Of course I have a little bit of a bias toward the Chiefs (I mean I do run a Chiefs blog) but I feel that the Chiefs are in better shape than both the Raiders and the Broncos. The right leadership is in place I just don’t know if the turn around will happen this quick, plus the Chiefs have a pretty brutal looking schedule this season.
The head coach is punching his assistants, they are trading 1st round picks for 30-something year old linemen and Al Davis is still in charge… and they still aren’t in quite as bad shape as the Broncos.
I have never seen a head coach tear apart a team and become so disliked (to put nicely) as quickly as Josh McDaniels has in Denver. Kyle Orton is your QB, your best offensive player acts like a preschooler, and your defense still sucks. It’s going to be a long year.