We all know the drill here. Every season that Tom Brady has played (or been available to play) all 16 games for the Patriots, New England has won the AFC East. That amounts to twelve AFC East Division titles since 2002. They stopped being accomplishments for the Patriots after about 2005. Honestly, I’m surprised they still make t-shirts and hats for it every year.
BUT, this year, because of you know what, Brady WILL NOT be available for all 16 games as he sits out the first four weeks. So, will this be the year that Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan finally gets his revenge on the Patriots? Will new head coach Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins step up to the plate? Will the rival New York Jets and Ryan Fitzmagic make a run at the top dog Patriots?
Yeah, I don’t think so either. Patriots by a long shot here.
This division saw two playoff teams last year in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, but will that be the case again this season? The Steelers seem to have a little bit of a marijuana problem, but as long as Ben Roethisberger and Antonio Brown can STAY OF THE WEED (Steven A. Smith voice), I think Pittsburgh will be alright. The Ladarius Green injury puts a little bit of an early damper on the Steelers’ season, but I have faith Big Ben will be able to work with the likes of Jesse James and David Johnson (I think).
The Browns get to try out Robert Griffin III as their 78th QB since 1999 and the Ravens will hopefully rebound from their injury-riddled 2015 season, but I’m taking AJ Green, Andy Dalton, and the Cincinnati Harambe’s out of the AFC North this year.
People want to peg the AFC South as the clear worst division in the NFL, but I have a different take on it. This division has some real sleeper potential.
The Tennessee Titans grabbed DeMarco Murray from the Eagles, drafted Derrick Henry, and still have one of the best duel threat quarterbacks in the NFL in second-year man Marcus Mariota. The Titans have absolutely no receiving threat outside of tight end Delanie Walker, so Mike Mularkey must be planning to trot out the old smash mouth offense and just run teams into the ground.
The Colts really need an offensive line. Like REALLY need an offensive line to keep Andrew Luck off the injury report week in and week out. The Texans turned in one of the worst playoff performances in history in last year’s wild card game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but they’ve moved on from Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett/Brandon Weeden and signed Brock Osweiler. JJ Watt will still be a force defensively and Brian Cushing is still definitely not on steroids (again, I think).
BUT, I’m taking Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars out of the AFC South. They have rebuilt their defense by signing former Broncos defensive tackle Malik Jackson and drafting corner back Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and outside linebacker Myles Jack from UCLA (two players projected to go in the top 5). Jacksonville’s third overall pick last year, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr, will finally make his debut this season after tearing his ACL in mini camp last year. Offensively, Blake Bortles was one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL last year, and they have weapons all over the field.
Not only am I taking Jacksonville to win this division, but I think they can also win a playoff game or two.
I think this is going to be one of the closest divisions in the NFL. The Denver Broncos are coming off a Super Bowl victory, but seem to be lost in regard to finding a quarter back. Trevor Siemian will be the Denver starter for now, but who knows how it will shake up as the season moves on. Von Miller is still dominant, but the Denver defense will not be able to sustain their playoff pace for sixteen games and into the post season. I’m putting Denver at a lackluster 9-7 this season.
The San Diego Chargers are in an interesting spot, both on their roster and in their football front office. The Joey Bosa incident could have been avoided and Los Angeles looms in the distance. Philip Rivers to Keenan Allen is an overlooked quarterback-receiver tandem, but its not enough to carry the Chargers to a division title. At least San Diego still has awesome weather all year-round.
The Oakland Raiders are getting a lot of buzz this preseason, but I’m still not buying it until I see Derek Carr make some plays under pressure and in pressure games. The Raider defense is great (allegedly), but I think a wild card spot seams to be about right for this Oakland team, and honestly those fans deserve a playoff appearance.
That all being said, I’m taking the Kansas City Chiefs to win this division and have (wait for it, wait for it) THE BEST RECORD IN THE AFC. Hate to say it as a Patriots fan, but the Chiefs will be this year’s #1 seed in the AFC come playoff time. We’ll also see a rematch of last year’s divisional round game in this season’s AFC Championship. And we all know how Brady played last time the Patriots went to Kansas City…
AFC PLAYOFF SEEDING
- Kansas City Chiefs
- New England Patriots
- Cincinnati Harambes
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Oakland Raiders