Monday, September 3, 2012

AFC Preseason Predictions

The NFL season is less than a week away so it definitely is time for my annual prediction of NFL division winners. Let's cut straight to the chase:

AFC East: 
1. New England Patriots (1)
2. Buffalo Bills
3. New York Jets
4. Miami Dolphins

We have grown accustomed to seeing the Pats at the top of the division and nothing should change here as their team actually got better in the offseason. The Bills are on the upswing and could be a surprise contender this season in their division and in the wild card. I really like what they've done this offseason, signing Mario Williams, keeping Stevie Johnson, and adding Stephon Gilmore in the draft. The Jets have all kinds of problems at multiple positions bu the most important question for them is at the quarterback position, where Mark Sanchez needs to step it up. Finally, the Dolphins have a young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who has tremendous bust potential in my mind. The Fins will be at the bottom of the division.

AFC South:
1. Houston Texans (3)
2. Indianapolis Colts (WC)
3. Tennessee Titans
4. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Texans are the prohibitive favorites with their strong running game and offense and their much improved defense. The have several young players, including JJ Watt and Brooks Reed who will really break out this year on defense. The Colts have an absolute stud in Andrew Luck and they will surprise many, many people this year. Tennessee has a below average quarterback at the helm in Jake Locker, and if he gets no help out of Chris Johnson this season, that team will go nowhere. Finally, Jacksonville has the worst QB in the league along with the worst wide receiver group and the worst fan base. They will definitely be at the cellar of the South.

AFC North:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (4)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (WC)
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Cleveland Browns

The Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals all made the playoffs last year and are all contenders this year. The Steelers have that strong defense and a top-tier QB in Ben Roethlisberger, but I do think they will fall this year in the standings. The Bengals are definitely on the rise and their young team, anchored by the Dalton-Green connection will turn heads this season. The Ravens aging defense and the absence of Terrell Suggs will hurt them greatly as they will not be able to compete with the superior offenses of Cincy and Pittsburgh. Finally, the Browns will remain as pitiful as ever, although their fans will cheer them on proudly.

AFC West:
1. Denver Broncos (2)
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Oakland Raiders
4. San Diego Chargers

Peyton Manning turns this Broncos team into an immediate Super Bowl contender. If he stays healthy, the Broncos are going to the Super Bowl. Kansas City is a decent team, but with a strong coaching staff under Romeo Crennel and players who have bought into the system, they will have a good season. The Raiders will  do as Carson Palmer does, and I, unlike others, think he'll bounce back and have a decent season. Finally, the Chargers have been the face of the AFC West for too long. We witnessed their vulnerabilities last year and after retaining Norv Turner as head coach, this is a team headed in the wrong direction.

Colts over Steelers
    Andrew Luck will have established himself as one of the best in the league by then.
Texans over Bengals
    Two young teams, but I think the better defense will win this game.

Broncos over Colts
    Peyton Manning vs Andrew Luck!! The more experienced quarterback ends his old team's season.
Patriots over Texans
    Tom Brady will have last year's Super Bowl defeat on his mind and will make sure his team does everything to win it this season.

Broncos over Patriots
    Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady!!! The rivals meet again, but this time, Peyton is actually on a good team.

So there you have it, the Denver Broncos are my pick to win the AFC.

Stay tuned for an NFC Prediction session later this week!

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