Okay, I realize it’s only April – but it’s a Sunday night and it’s fucking snowing outside. The perfect storm (pardon the pun) for football season. We’re less than one month into the official NFL “New Year,” and the draft is still a few weeks away. However, free agency has been crazy, each signing more surprising than the next. So, you’ll have to forgive me for being a little over excited. Here are my way too early AFC division predictions.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That seems to be the Steelers’ mantra the past few seasons. They’ve consistently had one of the best offenses in the league and going into this year it looks like it may be even more potent. With the return of the “Killer B’s” – Ben, Brown, and Bell, plus the emergence of Juju Smith-Schuster, I’d be surprised if the Steelers are not one of the best teams in the league next year.
2. Cleveland Browns
Call me an optimist, but I really like what the Browns have done so far this offseason. Now, I know they’ve only had 1 win across the last two seasons. Plus, they have a huge hole to fill on the offensive line, following future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas’ retirement. But with the acquisitions of Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, Carlos Hyde, and 2 of the first 5 picks in this year’s draft, Cleveland should be competitive again.
3. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been perpetually mediocre since winning the Super Bowl in 2012. So far in free agency they have added WR Michael Crabtree, WR John Brown, and DB Brandon Carr, but lost WR Jeremy Maclin, RB Danny Woodhead, and WR Mike Wallace. Seems like a wash to me.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
I have never been a fan of Marvin Lewis. Not to mention, Andy Dalton is still their starting QB. With not a whole lot going on in free agency, I’m expecting another year of mediocrity from the Bengals.
1. New England Patriots
In the words of Childish Gambino, “…yeah you hate me, but you will respect.” I can’t stand Brady/Belichick, but sometimes you just have to sit back and watch greatness unfold. The Patriots are always good, I don’t expect anything to change this year.
2. New York Jets
I know you’re probably looking at this and thinking I’m insane for having the Jets finishing second in their division. Trust me, I don’t think the Jets are going to be good. I just think the rest of their division is that bad. If you’re a Jets fan, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.
3. Miami Dolphins
With free agent signings of Frank Gore, Danny Amendola, and Brock Osweiler, the Dolphins’ team doctors are going to be very busy this year.
4. Buffalo Bills
The 2 big free agent signings for the Bills are unproven QB, AJ McCarron, and the notoriously terrible Phillip Gaines. Add an aging Lesean McCoy into the mix, and I’d say the Bills are set up to fail. Bad news for Bills Mafia. Good news for folding table manufacturers.
1. Houston Texans
The Texans haven’t been too active in free agency. However, a full season of Deshaun Watson and the return of JJ Watt is a scary thought. Additionally, DeAndre Hopkins looks like he’s as good as ever. I’m expecting the Texans to be a playoff contender.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are coming off their first AFC South title since 1999. With the B.O.A.T (Best of All Time) under center, I’m looking forward to watching what the Jaguars can do this year. In all my years of being an NFL fan, I never expected to write something like that.
3. Indianapolis Colts
No one has ever gone from hero to zero quicker than Andrew Luck. I’m not sure that he even knows what is going on with his health. With Luck, the Colts are a playoff contender. Without Luck, yikes.
4. Tennessee Titans
My Kansas City bias is showing. I know I’m being too harsh on the Titans, but the playoff loss to them still stings. I will give them credit, I like the free agent signings of Deon Lewis and Malcolm Butler. I just think the AFC South is going to be a lot more competitive this year, and I’m not entirely sure the Titans can keep up.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
I know I’m biased, but I honestly think the Chiefs are the best team in our division. Our offense was already full of weapons, and we added Sammy Watkins. On the other hand, after getting rid of Marcus Peters, our shaky secondary has even more holes to fill. Although, Eric Berry returning to the squad won’t hurt. At times, the Chiefs have looked unstoppable during the regular season, but at the end of the day Andy Reid keeps finding new ways to break our hearts once the playoffs come around. I expect more of the same this year.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
I almost skipped the Chargers because I hate Phillip Rivers so much. However, I wanted to get in a shot about his stupid ass bolo ties. Seriously, who keeps letting that happen? Anyway, after starting the season 0-4 last year, they went on to win 9 of their last 12 games. They haven’t made any notable signings so far, but if they can put together an entire season the way they played toward the end of last year, I believe they are the team that poses the biggest threat to the Chiefs.
3. Denver Broncos
Considering John Elway was one of the best QBs of all time, he certainly has a weird eye for finding talent under center. The Broncos haven’t had a decent QB since Peyton left town, but Case Keenum will certainly try to slot into that offense, coming off of a career year in Minnesota. Their defense isn’t as good as the one that won them the Super Bowl in 2015, but they still have the core group of guys. All-in-all, I expect a middle of the pack season out of the Broncos. They still aren’t anything to write home about.
4. Oakland Raiders
Huge changes from the Raiders going into the season. And I think its going to be a spectacular failure. From the 10 year/$100 million signing of a coach that hasn’t been in the league in almost 10 years, to the free agent signings of Muscle Hamster AKA Doug Martin, and the aging vet Jordy Nelson. Seeing if Gruden can compete in today’s NFL will be one of my favorite storylines to follow this season. If I were an Oakland fan, I’d be counting down the days until they leave town.
Stay tuned for the NFC rankings – coming soon.