The Power Couple NFL Season Preview: AFC

Summer is, sadly, officially over and football season is about to begin. The Power Couple will be here to watch it all unfold with some spot-on analysis and probably a few less than spot-on predictions. To start things off, here are our early thoughts on the AFC divisions. 

AFC East

Kelly: I’m going to be an obnoxious homer here, and despite all of the evidence to the contrary, I’m taking the Jets to win the division.

  1. New York Jets
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Miami Dolphins

This is the best shot someone other than New England has had to win the division in quite some time. The Bills have had too many offseason injuries and I just don’t see Miami being anything more than average. The Jets have a dreadful opening six games, but if they can come out of it around .500 or better, they have a shot to make this interesting down the stretch, and I mean who doesn’t love an underdog?

Max: I think I understand the optimism here, but I don’t share it.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Miami Dolphins.

One game. That’s all the Patriots need backup Jimmy Garoppolo to win while Tom Brady is suspended. He goes 1-3 against Arizona, Miami, Houston and Buffalo and the another season of 11-5 in New England is in reach. That seems eminently doable.

The Jets have probably never been closer, but they spent too much time playing footsie with Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason and not enough time actually upgrading the roster. Hopefully he doesn’t fall apart in Week 17 and the Jets can get a wild card spot.

AFC North

Kelly: This division is also a little less competitive than it’s been in years past, but I’m just not buying the Bengals hype.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Cincinnati Bengals
  3. Baltimore Ravens
  4. Cleveland Browns

I think that, similar to the Patriots, the Steelers need to start this season with just one win in their first three games. Their best player, Le’veon Bell, comes back Week 3 and he along with Antonio Brown are a deadly offensive combo that no other team has. I think that their high-powered offense is enough for them to edge out the Bengals, although Andy Dalton and their defense will make it a tight run down the stretch.

Max: If this were a playoff game I’d pick against Cincinnati in a heartbeat. But they’ve been a strong regular season team for a few years now and I don’t see that coming to an end this season.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Baltimore Ravens

The Steelers won games last season with their incredible offensive firepower. Bell missing three games and no Martavis Bryant makes me worry. The Bengals won 12 games last season while dealing with injuries to Andy Dalton and a shaky running game. They may not be as good, but they’ll still win the regular season.

And, oh yeah, that’s right- I’m not picking the Browns to finish last. RGIII plays 10 games discovers an incredible rapport with rookie sensation Corey Coleman and leads the Browns out of the basement… and my fantasy team to prominence.

AFC South

Kelly: I know there are many people out there who are on the Jacksonville bandwagon, but I am not one of them.

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Tennessee Titans

I really loved when I heard DeAndre Hopkins say that Brock Osweiler was the first QB he’s had in a long time that’s commanded the huddle. I don’t know about you, but the thought of Hopkins with a better QB scares me. That’s a scary thought. I also like the addition of Lamar Miller to the offense and the fact that J.J. Watt, who many predicted would miss at least a game or two seems ready to go Week 1. The Colts are a good team and I think Andrew Luck will have a bounce back year, but I just don’t think it’s enough.

Max: Again, largely for the sake of my fantasy team, I want to pick the Colts here. But I don’t think the offensive line will be able to keep Andrew Luck upright enough. The Jaguars have a lot of proving to do and the Titans have an even longer road. The Texans have the two best players in this division in Watt and Hopkins and that will be enough to get them a playoff spot.

AFC West

Kelly: This division might actually be the toughest one to pick. There’s a small part of me that wants to pick Philip Rivers and the Chargers to defeat their critics and rebound from what was a godawful season in 2015. I seriously considered picking them because I think Rivers is a top QB in this league and Keenan Allen is a legit number one threat. Danny Woodhead is a nice target out of the backfield, Antonio Gates is continuing to drink from the fountain of youth and Melvin Gordon can’t possibly have a worse year than last, but I just can’t pull the trigger. (Although I really, really want to.)

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. San Diego Chargers
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Oakland Raiders

I think Kansas City is the most all-around complete team in this division, if Jamaal Charles can stay healthy. Alex Smith is a capable QB and this defense is fierce. Plus, Eric Berry is quite fun to root for, so it’s hard to pick against them. Putting the Super Bowl winners to finish third in their division is a little bold, but they’ve lost a few key guys and their QB situation terrifies me. (Side note – thanks a lot Mark Sanchez for falling apart, after I came to your defense…) And I know Oakland is much improved, but I’m just higher on San Diego. Sorry Derek. Maybe next year is for you.

Max: My reaction to these picks:

The Chargers are finishing last in the West.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers complete lack of a running game and weak defense screams of last place. I like the Raiders’ biggest weapons, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, but have more than a few worries about Derek Carr. The Broncos’ defense will be a little weaker than last year and that will be a real problem if their quarterback play is worse as well. Even if they slip to fifth best in the league it will hurt their chances of making the playoffs. I think the Chiefs, despite Alex Smith, have a strong offense and will play enough defense and to win the division.

Playoff Picks

Kelly- Jets, Steelers, Texans, Chiefs, Patriots (WC), Bengals (WC)

Max- Patriots, Bengals, Texans, Chiefs, Steelers (WC), Jets (WC)

 

 

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