Ah, football is back. REAL football. Not the five weeks of meaningless football, not the mess of the first game of the season, not college football that we try to pass off as football.
I’m talking Sunday, 12 games football.
And with any new season comes a tsunami of predictions and guesses of who will decline, who is on the up, who will surprise, and who will disappoint.
In this episode, we will cover the AFC, division by division, team by team, and choose the division winner and maybe even dip our toes into the way-too-early playoff discussions.
Without further ado, we kick things off (Hah! Football pun!) with the AFC West
The west is in a weird place right now.
The South had an interesting shift in the absence of Andrew Luck.
The Jaguars showed that defense wins games, because it sure as hell wasn’t Blake Bortles who made this team go 10-6 last year. Their defensive line is incredible, and the secondary led by A.J. Bouye is a force to be reckoned with. Leonard Fournette is powerful in the backfield, too. How they continue to perform at such a level with Bortles under center is beyond me, but this team has a good shot at taking the division again.
The Titans overperformed last year, to put it simply, and it looked like, at least for a minute, that it could have been the worst thing to happen to the team. Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee offense succeeded in spite of Head Coach Mike Mularkey’s offense, and it seemed like him securing a playoff spot might also secure his job. Luckily for Titans fans, the Front Office still decided to part ways with Mularkey and brought in Mike Vrabel. I don’t expect him to have a McVay-quality rookie season, but this team could still make a run at the division
The Texans could be so much if they stay healthy. Deshaun Watson looked like he may be the second coming of Christ before he was taken out for the year less than a third into the season. J.J. Watt hasn’t been able to stay on the field for multiple years, and defensive stars Whitney Mercilus and Jadaveon Clowney have also had injury problems. This team is really a mixed bag, because we can’t tell for sure how solid they are if they stay healthy, or if they will at all.
The Colts showed that they are Andrew Luck’s team. Without him, they suck. The defense is pathetic, and they now have lost their only shining star left in Vontae Davis, who is in Buffalo now. The running game is non-existent now that Frank Gore is gone (man, he really got unlucky, huh?) and the offensive line has an eternal hatred for the man they are supposed to protect. Andrew Luck was a godsend when drafted in 2012, winning double digit games for three consecutive seasons, until that garbage offensive line caught up with him. Luck has not been totally healthy ever since, not playing a single snap last season. If he is on, he can totally take this team into the playoffs, but he might injure his back with all that carrying
Division Winner: The Texans. This one is tough, as every single team in this division can compete, and has a chance at winning it, but the Colts are too thin, the Titans have the growing pains of a first year Head Coach, and the Jaguars have…well…Blake Bortles. If Watson can be who he showed signs of last year, this team could go deep into the playoffs.
Come on, man. What do you want me to say?
The Patriots are good. Tom Brady is old, but good. Bill Belicheck is old, but good. The defense is good. Gronk is good. The Patriots will win a lot of games, and win this division easily. There really isn’t anything to say here.
The Bills made a miracle playoff run last year even while they shafted Tyrod Taylor, their quarterback, for part of the season without telling him. Now, they have shipped him away to Cleveland, and drafted Josh Allen, who is apparently not NFL ready. They have no quarter back, and thus stand no chance in this division, and with the strength of the South, probably don’t have a chance at a Wild Card either
The Jets are the joke of New Jersey. They are still the butt-fumble team to a large number of fans, and to be fair, they haven’t tried too hard to shake it. They picked up Sam Darnold, but the significance of that remains to be seen, considering his severe turnover problems in his time at USC. Bilal Powell is a solid lead back, but this team is still a joke in most of the league’s eyes.
The Dolphins don’t know how to rebuild. Jarvis Landry is gone, Ndamukong Suh is gone, and they really don’t have much to show for it. Ryan Tannehill is back after missing all of 2017, but he will never take this team anywhere with the condition it is currently in. Bringing in fossils like Danny Amendola and Frank Gore isn’t helping anything either. This team is not even worthy of being called mediocre
Division Winner: The Patriots. Obviously.
Just for fun.
To recap, I have the Patriots, Steelers, Texans, and Chargers winning their divisions. As for the wild cards, I am fairly confident in the Jaguars taking the first wild card spot, but the second is wide open. I’ll take the Ravens now, but who knows what will happen?
Seeding is obviously an unknown factor, but my pick for the AFC Championship is between the Pats and Chargers. As much as an all-LA super bowl would be fun, I think the god-damn New England Patriots will win the American Football Conference once again. You call it safe, I call it “painfully realistic.”