NFL Division Winner Predictions: AFC

The NFL season is almost here!

I’ll give you a second to calm yourself.

All good?

Like everyone who watches football, I have predictions for who will win each division. They are explained below. Enjoy, debate and tweet me if you think I’m an idiot.

AFC EAST: New England Patriots

I hate typing the team name. I hate everything about this organization. It’s a deeply rooted hatred. But they’re just so damn good ALL THE FREAKING TIME. The four game suspension for pretty boy Tommy won’t affect them. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely go 2-2 or 3-1. Then Brady returns and all is well. They arguably have the best team they’ve had in years. Gronk and Martellus Bennett are unstoppable against defenses. Two 6’6″ tight ends in an offense that loves to run two tight end sets is hell for any team in their path? Good luck stopping that.

Their defense doesn’t have huge name players but under Belichick, they always get the most out of their players. I think Malcolm Butler is the most overrated cornerback in the league. He’s sucked against my Jets but apparently he plays well the other 14 weeks of the year. I expect their defense and special teams to be typical Patriots; win some games on some rules that apparently only the Patriots know and their special teams to come up big in some spots.

The only other team in position, roster wise, is the Jets. They have a KILLER schedule though and, well, it’s the Jets. You can pencil the Bills in for 8-8 or 7-9 as usual and the Dolphins are just another year of being a ticking time bomb. I expect the Patriots to win, again, and for me to be hate it…again.

AFC NORTH: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers were one healthy Ben Roethlisberger away from making the Super Bowl last year. I picked them to win before he got hurt in the Cincinnati playoff game. If he can stay healthy this year, you can chalk them up to win the division.

Their offense is going to carry them this year. They have the best wide receiver in the league in Antonio Brown, a top five running back in Le’Veon Bell (who is suspended for the first three games) and a really good QB in Big Ben. Their defense is mediocre but when you can go score-for-score with everyone in the league, who needs a good defense?

The Bengals were my number two to come out on top of the AFC North. I just don’t think they have the offensive fire power to keep up. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones are gone, Tyler Eifert is hurt and Brandon “drops” LaFell is their number two receiver behind A.J. Green. They have a good defense but if you can’t score, you can’t win. Until the Ravens show me something, I’m not worried about them and the Browns are the Browns.

AFC SOUTH: Houston Texans

By default I have to go with the Texans. They finally found a QB by overspending on Brock Osweiler in the offseason, replaced Arian Foster with Lamar Miller at running back, and have one of the best receivers in the league with DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins. This division is certainly better than it was last year, but so are the Texans. They have fast, young receivers that can stretch the field and open things up in the running game.

“Uh, hey JJ” Watt anchors their defense along with former #1 pick Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney took a big step forward last year after an injury riddled rookie season. On the back end, Johnathon Joseph and and Kareem Jackson are shaping up to be quite the duo of cornerbacks in Houston.

The Colts are my pick to finish second. Their defense is weak and do we know if Andrew Luck will stay healthy or if he’s full focused on football anymore? Jacksonville is on the upswing with a crop of young players but I still think they’re a year away from making waves. Name me two Titans players besides Marcus Mariota and Delanie Walker. Exactly.

AFC WEST: Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City, even with the definition of a mediocre QB, is my pick to win the AFC West. Even with Justin Houston sidelined, their defense is dominant. I love the secondary. Eric Berry is a force and Marcus Peters has another year under his belt. Peters was great as a rookie cornerback last year, which is high praise for possibly the hardest position to excel at as a rookie. It’s also very hard to win at Arrowhead. While Alex Smith is mediocre, he still gets the job done for the Chiefs. Their offense has the potential to be pretty lethal, but that depends on the health of RB Jamaal Charles. If he is sidelined, Spencer Ware is more than enough to hold the fort down for the Chiefs. Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin will still have to suffer through Smith but it obviously worked last year, as they made it to the AFC Divisional Round.

This division was the hardest to pick. The Broncos have an all-world defense but not having even an medicore QB is worrisome (though they did overcome this limitation during their Super Bowl run). Oakland appears to be the sexy sleeper pick this year. They improved an already good defense, Amari Cooper enters his second season and Derek Carr is poised to take that extra step in his third year. It’s still the Raiders thought and until they show are ready for their first winning season since 2003, I’m not going to believe it. San Diego is a weird team. Philip Rivers might have more kids than touchdowns when it’s all said and done but the guy never misses a game. Being on the field is half the battle. Will Melvin Gordon bounce back from a subpar rookie year? I have no clue. Will Keenan Allen not almost die halfway through the season? Again I have no clue. What I do know is that the Chargers will still remain the least likely team to make noise in this division.

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