4. New York Jets
I actually believe this team is moving in the right direction. They got Revis and Cromartie back which was huge for their team because of their veteran leadership, and neither one seems to be anywhere near of being out their prime. I believe in Rex Ryan, but I also believe in the need for a new voice in a locker room. Todd Bowles could be that guy. Problem is that I really really really don’t believe in any QB in the Jets locker room. Hell I don’t believe in anyone on that offense now that I think of it. They did very well this season with the draft and offseason additions, but as far as this season goes; I don’t believe in this team this year. Their schedule is nothing incredibly hard or anything, but this team is just not one to be scared of. Do I believe in the future of the Jets? Yes. Do I believe in them this year to win 5 games? No. I have the Jets going 4-12 being in last place of the AFC division.
- Buffalo Bills
Like I said in the last one, I believe in Rex Ryan. Even though I don’t find this to be the most ideal spot for him to go, nonetheless, I see the Bills at least staying in the same place if not better next year. Their defense was stout last year which should continue with Rex; only issue is they lost Kyle Orton who became their savior on offense. This draft was decent for them, but of course the big splash was the trade for McCoy. The Bills already had a strong split back system and now it just got better with the accommodation of LeSean McCoy. McCoy, even with Fred, there is going to have to take a heavy load of the offense for the Bills and that worries me because he’s never been the most durable guy. McCoy has already had some issues with the Bills. I have the Bills going 7-9 placing 3rd in the division.
- Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are the most intriguing team in this division. I was close to saying they would win the division, but I’ll get into that further down. The Dolphins made the biggest splash this offseason landing Suh. Suh brings an entirely different element to this defense. Tannehill got a new contract which many are sceptical about and have the right to be. I’m huge on guys earning their pay before they get it, but everyone seems to be throwing that idea out of the window, however I do believe Tannehill will earn his pay. During the draft the Dolphins were able to draft their needs and did not really reach on anyone until the 5th round. The Dolphins are the underdog team this year. They’re so strong in so many areas. Only thing I’m really worried about is the head coach situation; who will be on the hot seat if this team doesn’t meet the expectations of the locals. I have the Dolphins going 10-6, second in the division and taking one of the wildcard spots.
- New England Patriots
I can’t take this division away from the Patriots regardless of the many losses this offseason. They lost their elite secondary with Brandon Browner going to the Saints and Darrelle Revis going back to the Jets. Their draft was okay, but I did not feel like they addressed their needs. However, tt is hard to argue with the results that have been produced from this organization. I will continue to give out what is owed to the Patriots, which is respect to arguably the greatest QB ever and greatest coach ever. This pick is solely based off of the fact nobody has been able to take the division from them in a long time. The first 4 games will hurt without Brady but somehow they went an entire season without him before and went 11-5. The schedule is nothing too rough so I see the Patriots once again winning the division, but not getting a first round bye this year.
- Cleveland Browns
The Browns have been all over the place in the past 3 years. Overhauls in coaching staffs, player personnel, and the entire Johnny Manziel factor has brought a lot more attention to the Browns than I can remember in quite some time. None of it positive. I don’t like anything in particular about this team even last year but somehow they were in the playoff race much longer than anyone expected them to be. Crowell was a positive on the offense but without Gordon once again, I still do not see any positive factors on the offense. They drafted Duke Johnson who will hopefully be able to take on the load of carries for the team. The defense has some nice young guys but we won’t see the results of that until a good 2-3 years from now, and at that point they could have four different GMs, two new owners, and 6 new head coaches. Humor aside I don’t trust this organization for anything in the past 50 years and neither should you. I have the Cleveland Browns going 5-13 and last in the division.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
This division is tough. There’s 3 teams that can easily steal the division title, and the Steelers are definitely one of those teams. They have the best offense in the division that’s not even a question. Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Big Ben were either top 5 or 2 at their position last year. It’s odd to think about how high powered the Steelers offense and how average their defense is. There is nothing special about their defense once so ever. This is the same team that has made history in the league through their stout defenses. That is the only reason I have them here instead of higher. This team relies on Big Ben’s hot arm and Le’Veon Bell’s wonderful vision. The draft they had was okay. I liked what they did in the first 2 rounds but I’m not feeling too positive about the rest of it. I have this team going 10-6 just outside of the playoffs and 3rd in the division.
- Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are a team that has consistently stayed relevant for quite some time now. Harbough keeps these boys ready on both sides of the ball. After the unfortunate Ray Rice situation, the Ravens had to find some answers somewhere for their running game. Forsett was that answer. Forsett kept the offense alive when he was finally given the chance to do something. His ability to find gaps and burst through the hole has always been at an elite level and in Baltimore he was finally able to showcase it. The Ravens have always been a team that doesn’t tear through their regular season schedule, but instead knows how to get hot at the right time in the postseason and make some noise. The Ravens have great young guys all over their defense and in particular, C.J. Mosley. The kid is just oozing with potential that has still yet to be seen and he had my DROY vote even though he didn’t win it. The WR core is even a less desirable one than before and although Steve Smith put up stats we have not seen from him in quite some time, I do not expect it to continue this season. They will need someone to step up in that core and I believe Harbough will find that man just like he found Forsett. I have the Ravens going 11-5, 2nd in the division, and losing in the second round of the playoffs.
- Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals once again are just the best all around team in the division again. I have no hope in the franchise past the regular season, and even then the front office is incapable of making the right decision with a head coach who has yet to win a playoff game in the entire time he has been there. Oh, and Marvin Lewis has been on the Bengals as the head coach for 10+ years. Regardless of these many many shortcomings, when it comes to the regular season I see the Bengals coming out on top with their most recent core of guys. They have the best WR core in the division, best duo of RBs in the division, and probably the best defense in the division. The QB position is the only questionable factor, but Andy Dalton is not a bad QB at all. He is serviceable despite what many in social media will tell you. They do not have an easy schedule, but regular season I believe in them. I have the Bengals going 11-5, winning the division, and going down in the first round just as they have so many other times.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville is a REALLY bad team let’s just get that out of the way. This team really has never had success. The best years I can think of are the very early 2000s, and are the closest they have come to contending. It has gotten so bad that whichever station hosts the game in the local area has had a ticker at the bottom for the viewers saying they apologized for the inconvenience of having to show the game, but they had to fulfill their contract. That is the state of this team. It will take a long time to rectify this. The Jaguars really do not have anything going for them at all. I cannot think of any players that bring anything supremely positive outside of one and that clearly was not enough last year. The Jaguars will continue to struggle this year and will end up last in the division, and I see a horrid 2-14 in their future.
- Tennessee Titans
The Titans surprised me this season picking Marcus Mariota in the draft. The talk around the team was that Mettenberger would be the QB they built around in the upcoming season. Instead someone up top decided to switch things up and Mariota is the future now. The Titans have been building nicely with a good young core and could potentially make noise in the future.The time for them is not upon us yet though, and this will be a struggle for many fans to watch as the Titans still have very few options on offense, and on defense there is a lot of holes. The best player on this team is Jurrell Casey and the gap between him and the next guy is far. It hurts me to say this because this is my team, but the Titans will go 5-11 this season and 3rd in the division.
- Houston Texans
The Texans almost made the playoffs last year which was a surprise to many with Clowney out for pretty much all year long. The Texans last year made some noise with their defense led by the monster that is J.J. Watt. They were in the playoff race much longer than they should have been. I like what the Texans did in the offseason. They grabbed Brian Hoyer who is a proven winner, Vince Wilfork who will provide veteran leadership to a team that sorely needs it, and they made sure to lock in Jonathon Joseph. In the draft they grabbed a corner who should be able to start day one and a guy that I am particularly cheering for, Jaelen Strong, a guy who is believed to be a first round talent. While I like a lot of the pickups nothing stands out to me on this team for this season. I’m sure JJ will continue to dominate the game in multiple ways, but I do not see that or anything else on the team being able to push this team over the hill into the playoffs.
- Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are easily the best team in this division and should take it with ease. Something truly traumatic would have to happen for this team to not win the division. The Colts got a huge vote of confidence from me by simply doing one thing. Getting rid of Trent “Trash” Richardson. Instead they now have Frank Gore, who has made a career of being a consistent running back. They also snatched up Andre Johnson, which is a pickup that was nice but makes me question they were thinking in the draft. With so many needs on the defensive side of the ball I do not understand the logic of grabbing a receiver with their first round pick when they were a top 3 offense this past year. Even with that, I liked the draft choices of D’Joun Smith, Henry Anderson, David Parry, and Josh Robinson. All of those picks were desperate needs for them. With all of that being said I have high beliefs for this team. I predict the Colts to take the division with ease at a 13-3 record, gaining a round one bye, and if they can avoid the Patriots I can potentially see them going all the way.
- Oakland Raiders
Wellllll heyyyyyy I know this was a surprise huh? The Oakland Raiders have been a joke since Rich Gannon and Charles Woodson got screwed on the infamous “Tuck Rule”. The Raiders have a little bit of hope. David Carr has been a glimmer of hope showing signs of some great potential. That along with grabbing Amari Cooper in the draft the future’s looking brighter in Oakland than it has in quite some time. Now considering today and these upcoming Sundays? Oakland has pretty much no chance. It’s hard being arguably the worst team in the league and being in one of the league’s toughest divisions. The Raiders will be lucky to win a single division game and it is even less likely they have much success anywhere else in their schedule. I have the Raiders going 3-12 and last in their division.
- Kansas City Chiefs
Last season much of the Chiefs season went downhill from the first game. Many defensive key pieces got injured in their first game of the year against the Titans. Going into this season, Andy Reid got one of his old weapons back in Jeremy Maclin. Offensive mastermind, getting one of the most explosive receivers in the game, along with arguably the best running back in the league, should equal success on offense right? Wrong. As long as Alex Smith is the quarterback of this team the passing will always fall short. His inability to throw down the field will continue to plague this team’s offense this year. The offense the last 2 years have relied on the running backs and it will continue to be that way this year. On the other side of the ball Kansas City has been elite for the last 2 years and I see no reason for that to change. The Kansas City Chiefs have an incredibly hard schedule this season and I cannot see them surpassing 7 games this year, being 3rd in their division and outside of the playoffs.
- San Diego Chargers
Questions came up in the offseason whether or not Rivers would be with the team at the beginning of the season. Now the season is approaching and Rivers is still at the helm of the offense. The Chargers have one glaring issue, and that is the 4 game suspension of future first ballot hall of famer Antonio Gates. The Chargers grabbed Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones to go with Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd which should be able to fill the void for the first 4 games of the season; if Gates does not win an appeal to reduce the games. Rivers last year was the leading MVP Candidate for about the first 6 weeks of the season. Now, this season the Chargers hope for their QB to not only repeat that but to have it stretch out for the entire season. With the departure of Ryan Matthews, the Chargers decided to grab Melvin Gordon in the draft, who has a lot of upside. The Chargers are filled with a lot of maybes this year, but I believe they will come out on the positive side of those maybes and end the year 10-6 edging into the playoffs in a wildcard spot.
- Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning has been heralded by many as the best regular season QB of all time and I am one who agrees with that statement. Many believe Peyton may have finally hit that wall that happens to all athletes when they reach a certain age, but until I see it for myself I will have to shove all of those beliefs away. Denver still has pretty much everyone from last year. Near the tail end of the season they found a RB named C.J. Anderson who helped push the Broncos to some hard earned victories near the end of the season when Peyton was playing hurt. Now they get a full season with this dual threat RB which could help Peyton not have to do so much. On defense they have the same core of guys who will continue to give teams hell. This division is a lot like the AFC East in my opinion, that it is the same team that will continue to win the division until another team rises high enough to take them down. The Broncos will have a hold over the division once again going 12-4 and making it to the divisional round once again.