Yesterday we did the NFC. The AFC appears to be a much easier conference to project. You really only have have nine teams in the mix for six spots. Unless of course you think highly of the AFC West or the Tennessee Titans. And three of those nine teams are flawed – the Texans have been on the cusp of a breakthrough for a couple years now but find a way to miss the postseason; the Steelers will be without their QB for four games, and the Jets enter the season with high expectations but will have to contend with chemistry issues and a sophomore QB.
What you can expect tomorrow on the NFL – the annual ‘Pick a Super Bowl champ’ post, a preview of the Jets, and (hopefully) a comprehensive preview on who the media is picking to win the Super Bowl.
How we see the AFC shaking out:
AFC East: New England, NY Jets*, Miami*, Buffalo
AFC North: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland
AFC South: Indianapolis, Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville
AFC West: San Diego, Kansas City, Denver, Oakland
* Yes, we had the Jets at 7-9 last week. Then Revis signed, and now it smells like 9/10 wins. More tomorrow.
* Peter King has the Steelers winning the Super Bowl, and we have them missing the playoffs. The good news: Four of their last seven are against Oakland, Buffalo, Carolina and Cleveland. Think the Steelers can get to eight wins, but they’ll need 10 to get in the playoffs.
* Our sleeper in the West is the Chiefs. There should be a significant improvement for Cassel in year two, the Charles-Thomas Jones combo is a nice one, and the young and talented defense should gain confidence in weeks 7-13 when the schedule is littered with bad or mediocre teams. Eight wins would not surprise us.
* If we had to project a division champ to slump, it’d be San Diego, which features a rookie RB (Mathews),is missing its top WR (Jackson), best corner from last year (Cromartie, though his replacement, Antonie Cason, is very good) and just feels like a team that has had the window open forever (playoffs five of the last six years, always flops in the postseason) and it is beginning to close.
In the playoffs we’ll give Indianapolis and Baltimore byes, the Jets will beat the Chargers (again), and the Dolphins will lose to the Patriots. We’ll take Baltimore over the Jets and Colts over the Patriots … and put the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Actually, we like the Ravens to win the Super Bowl.