Here is my predictions for what the season will look like in the AFC this year.
- KC CHIEFS (12-4) Mahomes and the offense will dominate again and, with an improving defense, I suspect more of our wins will be blowouts this year. We might lose some when we go against teams with a good defense and/or with teams that stymie our pass rush.
- LA CHARGERS (9-7) Rivers will do enough good but enough bad to keep the Chargers around the .500 mark. Injuries have already taken a toll and they better hope that Ekeler can be solid for the entire season. Their defense needs to remain steady despite losing their starting safety.
- DENVER BRONCOS (8-8) I believe their defense will be revitalized under Fangio and will be able to win a few as long as they are able to run the ball. Flacco will be able to complement their running attack but will not be able to win games on a consistent basis by his passing alone.
- OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-10) They have to be better than last year cause it would be hard to be worse. Even being a nut case, Antonio Brown will help their passing attack until he and Carr have a meltdown somewhere along the way. Their running game is in question so I would be willing to bet that they pad Carr’s statistics with a short passing game. Their defense was worse than ours last year – will it improve at all with some new players?
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (10-6) They still have a good defense and Foles will improve their offense to a certain degree. I believe they will look more like they did two years ago than the train wreck that was last year. Playing in the AFC South will pad their win total. How good their running attack is will determine how legitimate of a threat they might be.
- TENNESSEE TITANS (8-8) As always, this team will look like contenders one week and pretenders the next week. They will play tough defense, try and pound the ball, and Mariota will be up and down the entire season. Their style of play will be a detriment when and if they fall behind by a couple of scores. They will hang tough if they are close at the end of three.
- HOUSTON TEXANS (7-9) This team will go as far as Watson can carry them but his style of play and a weaker offensive line spell disaster. Duke Johnson will need to take the load off Watson but I question how effective they will be able to run the ball. Their defense will need to answer the call as well. How much longer will Bill be here?
- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-12) Jacoby Brissett instead of Luck is tough. I do not believe their defense – which added an aging Justin Houston – will be up to the task of keeping them in many ball games. They have one marquee player in Darius Leonard but he cannot tackle everyone. Brissett might be able to move the offense but I see plenty of field goals rather than touchdowns.
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-6) Big Ben needs to have a stellar year to make this prediction come true and I believe that he and JuJu will put up some decent numbers. The distractions are gone but so is some serious talent. Slight advantage to the Steelers for being able to be more focused. Their defense should be improved and they have a roster used to success.
- CLEVELAND BROWNS (9-7) Mayfield has some serious talent around him and this could be a fun team to watch. Their defense is solid as well. Two questions – Can Mayfield emerge as a wise leader or will he be an immature one? Will Kitchens be outcoached by Tomlin and Harbaugh in the big divisional games? They could be a dark horse candidate in the long run or things could implode if all does not go well.
- BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-8) Lamar Jackson will win many games with his feet but lose just as many with his passing. The Ravens running game will need to be stellar this year and their defense will have to be as vicious as years past. Losing a veteran like Suggs could impact the defense more than they might like.
- CINCINNATI BENGALS (2-14) Bengals have AJ Green and not much more. Dalton has not been a decent starter for several years and this should be his last year in Cincy. They will probably not win a single divisional game and are in contention for the first pick in next years draft. I have ran out of bad things to say about them.
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4) Once again, the Patriots will feast on a weak division as the young quarterbacks here are no match for Belichek. Brady will continue to be Brady but time is slowly having its impact. Brady and Belichek are both good enough to pile up the wins though. Be prepared for the return of Gronkowski in the latter part of the season for a playoff run.
- NEW YORK JETS (7-9) How improved will Sam Darnold be? Leveon Bell will carry the offense but Darnold has to prove that he can consistently get them in the end zone. I do not believe that he is there right now. I think the Jets will look good one week and stink up the joint the next week – just enough hope to break the fans hearts again.
- BUFFALO BILLS (7-9) How improved will Josh Allen be? I believe the Bills will be in contention in most of their games with a stout defense and decent running attack as Allen learns to get them in the end zone – much like Darnold with the Jets. I think Bills fans will like their future more than the Jets fans cause I think Allen progresses more than Darnold this year.
- MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-12) I think the Dolphins will win a few games by mistake here and Josh Rosen might be headed towards a bust label if he is not able to win the starting job here. The Jets and Bills should be able to sweep the Dolphins but could easily split if Darnold or Allen are inconsistent entities. My prediction: New quarterback in the draft.
WILD CARD ROUND
JAX (10-6) defeats CHARGERS (9-7) as Rivers falters in the playoffs again. Does Rivers move on from the Chargers after this season?
PITT (10-6) defeats CLEVELAND (9-7) as Big Ben outduels Mayfield in a close battle. Browns get kudos for being relevant again but come up short.
KC (12-4) defeats PITTSBURGH (10-6) as Mahomes destroys the Pittsburgh defense and the KC defense puts enough pressure on Big Ben to make the difference.
NE (12-4) defeats JAX (10-6) as the lack of a dominant offense hinders the Jaguars and Brady does enough to move down the field against their defense.
KC (12-4) defeats NE (12-4) in New England. That’s right, I have the Patriots winning home field advantage but Mahomes coming up with the biggest victory in his career. I expect an offensive slugfest but our defense making just enough plays to win the day.
Let me know what you think.