To see the NFC preview click here.
I was deplorable last season trying to decipher good from bad in the AFC and frankly with three of the four divisions wide open for anyone to win I don’t expect much improvement this time around. Read and weep after the jump…
1.) Miami Dolphins (12-4). This is a stab in the dark “go outside of the ordinary” pick I’m making. The acquisitions of Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall instantly improve both sides of the
ball for Miami and I think Chad Henne will emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber QB with the help of Marshall and the dumping of Ted Ginn Jr. Their secondary is a big question mark because outside of Vontae Davis none of their other DBs is really that impressive. Here’s my shock pick for 2010 and I’m sticking with it. Don’t doubt Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells.
2.) New York Jets (10-6). The most overrated team in the AFC. I’m not quite sure Mark Sanchez can be trusted in close games or to handle an offense that is forced to pass the ball. They’ll make the playoffs because their defense is so dominant but right now the quarterback position is preventing me from picking them to be serious contenders. Oh, and Rex Ryan likes to swear.
3.) New England Patriots (7-9). I’m calling it right now, the Patriots aren’t making the playoffs. Something about them doesn’t feel right. I don’t think their pass rush is good enough to trouble any quarterback, and I feel that Tom Brady is going to get bullrushed by oncoming defenders ready to rip his head off. When Brady is faced with pressure he is merely average. The playoff loss to the Ravens was very telling of how one can beat the Patriots and fluster Brady. I don’t think the Jets, Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, or Vikings will have mercy on him.
4.) Buffalo Bills (3-13). You know what sucks? CJ Spiller is going to be a candidate for Rookie of the Year but he’s on such a lousy team and no one else is going to help him. Luckily for the Bills the QB class for 2011 is promising, because Trent Edwards isn’t capable to start in the NFL.
1.) Baltimore Ravens (13-3). Joe Flacco has to be pleased with Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmandzadeh as his receivers. The coaching staff must be elated that Ray Rice has turned into a stud at RB so they don’t have to rely on Willis McGahee as often as they should. I’m sold on their defense (even without Ed Reed for 6 weeks) maintaining their high standard of excellency and behind a new and hopefully dynamic offense they’ll earn themselves a first round bye.
2.) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8). Dennis Dixon will intercept his way towards an opening day loss against Atlanta, and Byron Leftwich will stumble and injure his way through a 1-2 record in his 3 games. Ben Roethlisberger will return and resurrect the Steelers to something respectable, but the poor start to the season will end up being their downfall.
3.) Cincinnati Bengals (7-9). Outside of the Jets the Cincinnati Bengals are the most overrated team in the AFC. I am confident Tim Cowlishaw picked them to go to the Super Bowl on Around the Horn, and I vehemently disagree with that statement. As great as Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are, I do not think Carson Palmer will perform well this season both due to injuries and their schedule. In 2006 Kimo von Oelhoffen wrecked Palmer’s knee in the Steelers/Bengals playoff game to the point where it was nearly career-ending. Palmer rebounded for a solid 2006 season and a Pro Bowl appearance but he has not performed particularly well. In 2007 he threw a career-high 20 interceptions and the year after that he missed 11 games due to a torn ligament and tendon in his throwing arm. His most recent season saw him healthy but barely made it over 3,000 passing yards and an 83.6 passer rating. The Bengals also face a mighty difficult non-division schedule, including @ New England, @ Indianapolis, @ NY Jets, @ Atlanta, New Orleans, and @ San Diego. Marv Lewis has run out of lifelines and will coach the Bengals to another underachieving year.
4.) Cleveland Browns (6-10). The Browns have a lot of talented players, but they’re missing a good QB. Jake Delhomme and Seneca “Sacks Himself” Wallace aren’t exactly the greatest guys to lead a team. I look forward to more exciting plays from Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison but that’s about it.
1.) Indianapolis Colts (14-2). Self explanatory. Although, the Super Bowl Loser’s Curse could take effect on Peyton Manning,
2.) Houston Texans (11-5). The Texans are slowly becoming one of my favorite teams to watch. Matt Schaub is a great QB when healthy and has one of the best wide receivers in the game in Andre Johnson. Sadly the Texans don’t employ Seahawks legend Brian Russell anymore so that’s a bit disappointing. Defensively they won’t have Brian Cushing for 4 games due to a substance abuse suspension and some syndrome Cushing made up. Will they make it to the Super Bowl? No I don’t think they’re elite, but they’re very promising and with Mario Williams eating QBs for lunch and Andre Johnson catching TDs for fun this is a very dangerous wild card opponent.
3.) Tennessee Titans (8-8). I don’t know what to make of them. Vince Young wins games but he isn’t outstanding. Chris Johnson had a history-making 2009 but what are the chances of him repeating that this time around? I’ll be completely honest and say I don’t know enough about the Titans to decide if they’re good or bad so I’ll pencil them in for 8-8.
4.) Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11). When are they going to move to Los Angeles?
1.) San Diego Chargers (10-6). A division they pretty much win by default. It’s not going to matter, because Norv will manage to get himself fired when they lose a winnable playoff game.
2.) Kansas City Chiefs (6-10). Sort of my “surprise” pick for Kansas City to have an improvement over last year. The emergence of former Texas RB Jamaal Charles in addition to the pick up of Thomas Jones has me hopeful they will have a very impressive and dangerous rushing attack. Matt Cassel is still a question mark for me but if they can use the run to set up the pass he’ll put up respectable statistics.
3.) Oakland Raiders (5-11). Jason Campbell could break in half at any moment and when he does it’s Kyle Boller time! They’re still the Raiders and they’re still terrible.
4.) Denver Broncos (4-12). Rooting against the Broncos to get a better 1st round pick was so fun I think I’ll do it again this year with no incentives whatsoever!
AFC Playoff Picture
#1 Indianapolis Colts
#2 Baltimore Ravens
#3 Miami Dolphins
#4 San Diego Chargers
#5 Houston Texans
#6 New York Jets
Super Bowl pick will come tomorrow.