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.
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.
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.
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.
Omolade Saka (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/omoladesaka/): The Denver Broncos are obvious contenders. Even though they started off slower than last year this team has a lot of offensive weapons and of course Peyton Manning, who could arguably be a top 5 QB of all time. You just can’t count them out with all of the talent they have offensively. Plus, their defense has improved from last year.
R’Mon Allen (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/mononsports/): There is no question about the Denver Broncos being contenders in the AFC. They are currently the reigning AFC champions, both their offense and defense improved. Also they are extremely motivated after what happened to them in the Super Bowl. Even though they lost their run game in Knowshown Moreno, you have to believe that their all time great QB Peyton Manning, will figure it out.
Ryan Fort (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/ryanfort/): Contenders. Any team that has Peyton Manning at QB has to deemed as a Contender right? Yeah they started off slow but they’re starting to pick it up which could mean trouble for a lot of the teams in the AFC. Gulp, league.
San Diego Chargers
Hornback: The leading MVP Phillip Rivers has his team performing at a contending level and will continue that throughout this season. Don’t be surprised if they steal the division this year.
Saka: The San Diego Chargers are definitely contenders. This team is led by QB Phillip Rivers, who in my opinion is playing like the best QB in the NFL as of right now. Defensively this team is having a very good season. Ranking third in the NFL in Total Offensive yards allowed and fourth in total passing yards allowed. Don’t be surprised if you see them playing for the Lombardi trophy this year.
Allen: The San Diego Chargers are a very legit contender in the AFC. Phillip Rivers is obviously the league MVP and proving all the doubters that buried him years ago wrong. They are vastly improved on the defensive end and their offense is loaded with weapons. Like Denver their running game is suspect due to injury, but a great QB can always cancel that out.
Fort: They are Contenders no doubt. Rivers is having a great year and the team is doing well despite a number of injuries here early on. If any team can dethrone Denver it’s them.
Hornback: The most talented team in the AFC is what I call them despite them always finding a way to come up short. They will win the division by default but I will not call them contenders.
Saka: This team is a pretender. Yes, this team will definitely make the playoffs and more than likely win their division but they have yet to win a playoff game under Marvin Lewis and he has been their head coach since 2003. Plus their No. 1 WR is out till who knows when.
Allen: Despite being the most talented team in the league the Bengals are merely a pretender. They never seem to show up when the big moments arrive. You can have all the talent you want to but it takes heart be a contender in this league.
Fort: Pretenders. In the Playoffs they can never get going. And with Green injured I’m expecting a huge drop with this team.
New England Patriots
Hornback: I always believe in Brady because somehow someway his team will find a way to be successful. But I do believe that they need to capitalize on these receivers being dangled around on the trade block. Contender.
Saka: Tom Brady is just a flat out winner and you can never count him out because he will always find a way to win. I also believe in Bill Belicheck, which I believe is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Don’t count this team out just yet. Contender.
Allen: We are finally starting to see decline of The New England Patriots. With Logan Mankins not there to protect their all time great QB Tom Brady and having limited weapons on both the passing and running game the Patriots are going to have a tough time competing with the best in the Conference. Borderline Pretender at best.
Fort: The jury is still out on this squad. They’re starting to put it together but I honestly don’t know…. It all depends on if Gronk can healthy… I’m going with…. Pretender. Brady is in decline.
Hornback: Flacco has been solid and the defense is underrated this year but this team is quietly making noise. I don’t quite see them as a contender without more star power. Pretender
Saka: Pretender. This team can’t compete with elite teams in the AFC and probably won’t even win their division because they have the Bengals in it.
Allen: Contender, you have to love the way the Ravens have improved their passing game by acquiring Steve Smith and their Defense has always been top notch. They will be a force to be reckoned with.
Fort: If they can make it through the regular season above .500 sure they’ll be Contenders. Flacco is currently under the radar which is good. Unlike Peyton, Flacco is the QB you want in the postseason. He’ll be getting called ELITE again by season’s end.
Hornback: Not impressed with anything about this team so far. Horrible run game and Luck is turning over the ball too much. Pretender.
Saka: Contenders. The Colts have the #1 total offense and the #1 passing offense. This team is gonna be hard for any defense to compete with. They can make a run for the championship. It’s all depending on Andrew Luck.
Allen: Not sold on the Colts just yet. They play in the worst division in football (AFC South) and their offense is mistake prone despite of the numbers Luck is putting up. Pretenders for now.
Fort: The Colts are not Contenders, yet. Luck turns the ball over too much for my liking. If he were to play Brady, Manning or Rivers it would get ugly because of his turnovers. We all remember what happened when Luck faced Brady last year. But then again he did dismantle Cincy and beat the Ravens so far…. So hmmm.
Hornback: With Fitzpatrick at QB I’m calling this team a pretender. Despite JJ Watt’s greatness I don’t see this team making any noise this year.
Saka: Pretenders. This team might be very good defensively and they do have the best defensive player in the NFL in JJ Watt but they just can’t win with Fitzpatrick at QB. The guy is just terrible in my opinion.
Allen: Clearly the Texans are pretenders, despite having the best defensive player in the league. Their QB is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nothing else to say.
Fort: Pretenders. J.J Watt is the best defensive player in Football but let’s be honest here…. Fitzpatrick is a 6th tier QB. You can’t contend with him.
AFC Team That Could Rise:
The Browns could be very interesting if they can stay over.500 by the time they get Josh Gordon back, because if they do they WILL make the playoffs.
This is a weak conference and I don’t see anyone else coming up and becoming contenders. The Playoff teams are very clear in this conference.
At this point in time the race for the AFC seems clear cut and I don’t see much coming from anywhere else in the AFC.
Kansas City is slowly coming up. If they continue to improve their play and Bowe along with Charles remain healthy they could regain last year’s form. Just watch.